Major GTA boards announce full school closures if CUPE education workers strike

Click to play video: 'Some GTA schools boards cancel classes if CUPE strike happens'
Some GTA schools boards cancel classes if CUPE strike happens
Some GTA schools boards cancel classes if CUPE strike happens – Oct 3, 2019

Three of the biggest school boards in Ontario have announced that schools will close on Monday if education workers follow through on their strike threat.

Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Peel District School Board (PDSB) and York Region School Board sent letters to parents Thursday afternoon advising them to make other arrangements if the strike and school closures happen. The Toronto Catholic School Board said its schools will also be closed.

The boards said they cannot ensure student safety in the event of a strike.

Click to play video: 'TDSB says all services will be cancelled if a CUPE strike occurs'
TDSB says all services will be cancelled if a CUPE strike occurs

The TDSB said they did not take the decision lightly and it explored “every possible contingency plan.”

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“Student supervision and safety are our top priorities and without the important services of these school-based employees, we cannot guarantee that our learning environments will remain safe and clean for all students.”

However, the TDSB said third-party licensed childcare operators in its schools will be permitted to remain open, but with the shortened hours of 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

The PDSB said all weekend classes and permits will be able to move ahead over the weekend.

However, as of Monday, the following will be either closed or cancelled until further notice:

  • All evening and weekend permits
  • International languages program
  • School field trips and extracurricular activities – refunds won’t be processed until after the strike
  • Before- and after-school programs, and child care programs operated on school property
  • EarlyON and Child and Family Learning Centres
  • Night school
  • Adult credit, Non-credit, ESL, and literacy and basic skills programs
  • All co-op placements, including those taking place off school property
  • Dual credit program—students should not go to their college classes
  • High school information nights that are scheduled for the week of Oct. 7

The Toronto District School Board told Global News it should have an update for parents at around 4 p.m.

Several other boards, including the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, the Ottawa Catholic School Board, Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board and the Windsor Catholic School Board also said its schools will close.

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Public schools in Windsor will remain open.

The Durham District School Board sent notices to parents on Wednesday warning about potential delays come Monday if the strike were to begin.

Click to play video: 'Several schools across Ontario prepared to close if CUPE strike moves forward'
Several schools across Ontario prepared to close if CUPE strike moves forward

CUPE represents 55,000 custodians clerical workers and early childhood educators, who gave notice on Wednesday about the intent to strike.

Workers began a work-to-rule campaign on Monday as confusion mounted about when their union and the Ontario government would go back to the bargaining table after earlier talks failed.

Custodians have stopped cleaning hallways and emptying garbage cans outside schools, clerical workers have stopped finding replacements for absent staff, and education workers have stopped working overtime.

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When asked whether or not the government would table back-to-school legislation, Education Minister Stephen Lecce would not give a definite answer when asked by Global News on Wednesday. However, he said historically it’s better to come to a deal voluntarily.

When drilled as to whether kids in full-day kindergarten or children with special needs will have to stay home Monday if a strike should happen, Lecce said it is his “hope and expectation” that the safety of children will never be compromised.

“I think the system overall, the ecosystem around our kids from the administration to the boards of education to the ministry of education to the workers, the EAs, as well as of course the teachers, I think we’re all going to have to put the kids first,” he said.

“I think CUPE will have to answer the consequences of that decision. I think, for me, my hope is that no child has service disruption. That they are in a safe environment and they are able to be to go to school on Monday.”

“That’s the goal for this week and that’s the goal for the coming days.”

Talks are set to resume at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

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With files from The Canadian Press

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