The Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board announce they will close their schools for in-person learning on Monday if the Canadian Union of Public Employees goes on strike.
In workforce updates on Wednesday, the TDSB and TCDSB warned that they will have to close schools for safety reasons if education workers leave work. Students will switch to online learning, the advice added.
“Student supervision and safety are our top priorities and without the important services of nearly 15,000 CUPE employees, we cannot guarantee that our learning environments will remain safe and clean for all students,” the TDSB said. in its update.
The TDSB said it hopes the union and the Ontario government will reach an agreement by Monday. while the TCDSB said it would pray for a negotiated deal.
“We understand that this news is difficult and can be stressful for our staff, students and their families. Given the evolving nature of the situation between the provincial government and CUPE, we are sharing contingency plans for next week to ensure continuity. of learning for students,” the TCDSB added.
CUPE filed a five-day strike notice on Wednesday, saying after two days of bargaining talks had broken down with the province.
The Halton District School Board, meanwhile, said its elementary schools will open for in-person learning on Monday and transition to remote (real-time, teacher-led) learning for all students in from Tuesday until further notice. The board said its secondary schools will continue to be open to in-person learning for all students every day.
‘Important work’ wouldn’t happen, says TDSB
The TDSB said a CUPE strike would mean some of the following “important work” would not take place:
- No babysitting services, including cleaning of schools, classrooms, bathrooms, and dining rooms, operation and monitoring of heating and ventilation systems, and snow removal.
- No staff in the school offices, especially to ensure the safe arrival of all students.
- No designated early childhood educator in kindergarten classes.
- No educational assistants or special needs assistants to support students with special educational needs.
- No dining room supervisor to watch over elementary students during lunch hour.
- No school safety monitors in colleges and high schools.
“We know this is a difficult time for families, and we continue to work on plans to ensure continued learning and support for students during any potential disruption. We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached. before Monday,” the TDSB said.
Students will be able to learn online, says TDSB
According to the TDSB, synchronous learning will begin for students who can go online immediately.
Schools will start distributing devices to students who need them as soon as possible, but the TDSB said it could take several days and could extend beyond Monday. Parents, guardians and caregivers will receive details about requesting a device directly from their child’s school, the TDSB said.
“We recognize that some students will not participate in synchronous learning for a variety of reasons, including not having immediate access to a device. In these cases, teachers are encouraged to provide students with five or more days of work asynchronous so their learning can continue at home,” the TDSB said.
Students already learning online will continue to do so “with some adjustments” in the event of a strike.
The TCDSB urges students without a device to contact their school principal for a temporary device. For St. Anne students, TCDSB classes will continue as usual.
As for students with special needs, teachers will continue to support them based on their special educational needs as outlined in their Individual Education Plans, the TDSB and TCDSB said.
Additionally, both boards said teachers will communicate with the families of students in Intensive Support Programs to determine appropriate learning on an individual basis.
The strike could affect daycare centers in schools
The TDSB said it is determining whether third-party child care operators will be allowed to continue during a strike. The council said EarlyON Child and Family Centers operated by the TDSB and by third parties will be closed. Additionally, extended day programs run by the TDSB will be closed to all families as they are run by CUPE employees.
While schools are closed, High School Credit Evening Distance Classes and Saturday Credit International Language Classes Distance Learning will continue to operate.
All remaining continuing education classes are cancelled, including locations other than the TDSB where programming is taking place, until further notice. This includes Saturday International Languages Secondary Credit, Adult In-Person and Distance Learning ESL, Community Programs/Learn4Life, and Elementary International Languages/African Heritage.
As for the TCDSB, it said it will be providing child care information shortly, its before and after school programs and licensed recreation programs will be closed, and its EarlyON Child and Family Centers. will be closed for in-person programs. All evening schools will remain distant.
The TDSB and TCDSB said they will provide further updates as the labor situation changes.