Some daycares in town are feeling the crunch with more kids joining after school programs, as parents scramble to find entertainment for their kids during the teachers’ strike.
Jozie Mclean, manager of Discovery House on Alfred Avenue, said she has seen an increase in the number of kids in their after school program.
“It changes from year to year. We had a huge influx last September, but we didn’t have anywhere near this many kids as we do this year,” said Mclean.
Currently, Discovery House has 16 school-age children in their after school program, which has also been extended to the full day. In previous years, the program only had 10 kids.
According to Mclean, staffing levels have also been an issue.
“Most of my staff are going to college, so my subs who work through the summer have to go back to their preschool programs. Staffing is really tricky,” she said. “We’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants right now. Luckily, the weather has been nice so we go outside and go to the park a lot.”
Many employees have also had to work overtime.
“It’s difficult in the childcare world because it’s a stressful job, so working overtime you get really worn down by the end of the day,” said Mclean.
But some daycares haven’t seen as many new kids as Discovery House.
An employee with Growing Together Playhouse, also on Alfred Avenue, said they haven’t seen a major increase in enrolment and that the two children who were supposed to return to school will continue to stay in the program until the strike ends.
Independent schools in the area said they have seen a slight increase in new students, but said it isn’t because of the strike.
“Our enrolment numbers are steady from last year. The strike has had a negligible affect on enrolment,” said Chris Steenhof, principal of the Bulkley Valley Christian School.
Steenhof said they have roughly 25 new students this year, adding that most students signed up before the strike began.
He noted that international and exchange students, as well as students moving from out of town to attend the school are also included in those numbers.
“We have new students every year, that’s not new,” he said.
St. Joseph’s Catholic School also said they haven’t seen an increase in enrolment.
“Our philosophy is we don’t accept new registrations because of job action. After the job action is finished, if people want to come and inquire, then that’s fine,” said Rosemary McKenzie, principal of St. Joseph’s in a previous article in The Interior News.
Despite the added challenges, Mclean said kids are ready to be in a classroom again.
“The kids are really wanting to go back to school,” she said.