A province-wide teachers’ strike is underway for all public high school teachers, and London is no exception.
All high schools in the Thames Valley District School Board were closed for the day in response to stalled contract negotiations between the province and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.
Taylor Jones, OSSTF branch president for the OSSTF at Clark Road Secondary School (CRSS), said they want to make sure teachers get a fair deal and one that does not negatively impact student through larger class sizes and mandatory e-learning.
“We know students all learn in different ways, and e-learning is one way of learning and certainly for someone students it might be an appropriate measure, but it’s not for all people,” Jones said.
On Tuesday night, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the main issue in the talks is compensation, with the government recently passing legislation to cap annual wage increases for all public sector workers at one per cent for three years.
Rob Steller, a teacher and athletic director at CRSS, though, said he wants people to know it’s not about the money.
“I am not only a teacher but I am a parent and I am going to have kids in high school over the next eight years, and my biggest concerns are those kids having to take mandatory online learning,” Steller said.
Steller said another concern is students in vulnerable situations who may not have access to a computer or the internet.
Lecce is proposing the same type of mediation that saw the Ontario government come to a contract agreement with CUPE education workers in October.
The teachers have been without a collective barging agreement since August.
Students and teachers are expected to be back in class Thursday.
— With files from Nick Westoll, Global News