A growing number of Ontario boards — including the three largest in the province — are warning they will shutter all schools starting Monday if support staff go on strike.
The unusual move by boards — typically only teacher strikes shut down schools at the start of job action — were prompted by concerns about student safety, and to avoid chaos and confusion for families. The closures will impact thousands of parents and leave many scrambling to find alternate accommodations if the province’s 55,000 custodians, early childhood educators, educational assistants and office staff hit the picket lines.
The Peel, York and Toronto public boards are all set to shut schools, if members with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) walk off the job Monday.
The Toronto board has scheduled a news conference with Director John Malloy for Thursday at 4 p.m. to provide an update on the situation.
Other boards that will close all schools include: Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board; Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington Catholic School Board; St. Clair Catholic District School Board; Waterloo Catholic District School Board; Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board, and Ottawa Catholic School Board.
A handful of boards, such as Ottawa public, remain unaffected as none of their workers are represented by CUPE.
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board has announced it will open Monday for the instructional part of the day, meaning doors will open 15 minutes before bell time and will close 15 minutes after bell time. But various programs are being cancelled, including all licenced before- and after-school programs, all authorized recreation programs and all rental permits on any board property
For boards that do open, there are concerns about full-day kindergarten programs, where early childhood educators are represented by CUPE and who must be present in classrooms with more than 15 students under provincial rules. And, there are also concerns about special needs students who rely on the help of educational assistants. Many boards are advising parents to make plans for alternate care in case schools are closed.
MORE TO COME
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