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Peterborough school boards to close schools Monday in event of CUPE strike

Classrooms could be empty on Nov. 21 if CUPE education workers in Ontario proceed with a strike. JOH

Both Peterborough-based public and Catholic school boards will close their schools this Monday if education workers commence a full strike.

In letters to parents and guardians, both the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board (KPR) and the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board (PVNC) say they cannot safely operate their schools if education workers with the Canadian Union of Public Employees stage a strike beginning Monday, Nov. 21, meaning a full withdrawal of services.

The union on Wednesday gave the province a five-day notice of job action.

It follows the course of action taken earlier this month by both school boards when CUPE education workers withdrew services on Friday, Nov. 4 and Monday, Nov. 7.

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KPRDSB director of education Rita Russo and board of trustees chair Steve Russell say the decision to close schools is not made lightly.

“But without CUPE education workers on-site, we could not ensure our schools would be safe for all students,” they stated. “This course of action is based on supervision of students; medical support and care for all students; safe operation of water and sanitation systems, including required water flushing; conditions of school buildings and classrooms, and overall safety and security.”

KPR will have more plans for learning in the days ahead. For students enrolled in virtual schools, programming will proceed as usual.

If schools are closed on Monday, child-care centres will be permitted to remain open, however, before and after school programs, early years centres and facility partner programs will be closed.

In a statement, PVNC said schools would close on Monday and all students will transition to remote learning until further notice.

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“Classroom teachers will transition on Monday to synchronous learning. This is learning that takes place with the teacher in real time using a variety of communication tools,” the board stated. “For students enrolled in our virtual school, programming will proceed as usual on Monday.”

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The board says CUPE staff play “vital roles” in their schools and is hopeful the union and province can reach a tentative agreement to avert strike action.

Families are asked to check their email regularly over the weekend and to follow labour developments in the media.

Both school boards have schools in Peterborough, Peterborough County, Northumberland County and sections of Durham region. PVNC also has schools in the City of Kawartha.

The French Catholic school board Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir — which has one school in Peterborough — stated in the event of a CUPE strike, synchronous distance learning (live via Google Meet) will begin on Nov. 21.

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