Some Windsor-Essex schools boards are developing contingency plans to stay open despite another possible strike by educational workers next week.
The provincial leadership of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) provided notice to the Ontario government on Wednesday that they intend to go on strike with a full withdrawal of services beginning Monday, Nov. 21 if a collective agreement cannot be reached by then.
Friday, Nov. 18 is a PA Day, and strike action would commence on Monday, Nov. 21.
The Greater Essex County District School Board remained open during the last job action and issued a statement saying they will follow a similar plan if there’s another strike.
“All schools, classes and student transportation will continue to operate until further notice,” said the GECDSB labour update.
CUPE represents secretaries, clerks, IT technicians, custodians, maintenance staff, couriers and media services personnel in the GECDSB.
CUPE represents about 500 employees of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board including Educational Assistants (EAs), Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECEs), Child and Youth Workers (CYWs) and other paraprofessionals such as Psychologists, Sign Language Interpreters and Psychotherapists.
“Our intention is to keep schools open for as many students as possible, so in order to continue in-person learning, and in the interest of health and safety for staff and students, we have developed contingency plans to do that,” said a statement from the board.
In the event of a strike, WECDSB said all non-CUPE staff will be expected to report to work as usual.
Any students who are not in JK/SK programs, do not have complex learning needs, and have not been contacted by their school will be expected to attend school in person according to their regular schedule.
This is how the WECDSB intends to continue operating regarding all those students who will be directly impacted in the event of a strike:
Students with complex learning needs:
Principals will be contacting families of students with complex learning needs to discuss alternative program arrangements as a result of the withdrawal of CUPE support services, specifically Educational Assistants, in the interest of health and safety. School teams will work with families to provide appropriate learning materials according to each student’s Individual Education Plan that could be used at home.
Full Day Kindergarten programs (JK/SK):
In order to address the withdrawal of CUPE services which includes our Designated Early Childhood Educators in our full day kindergarten classrooms, the Board has developed an alternating day schedule for student attendance. Details of this schedule will be communicated directly to parents/guardians by their respective schools. On the days that JK/SK students are not scheduled to attend school, parents/guardians will need to make appropriate alternative arrangements for their children.
Childcare centers that currently operate in our schools will remain open.
In the meantime, we will continue to hope and pray that negotiations between the Ontario government, the leaders of various trustees’ associations and the provincial leaders of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) will result in a satisfactory agreement for all and that a strike can be averted.
Conseil scolaire catholique Providence schools to close
The French Catholic Board plans to move close schools to students next week if there’s a strike.
“In the event of a strike next week, the Csc Providence will again be obliged to continue the provision of education in virtual mode in order to ensure the safety of the students,” said the statement to parents. “We remind you that at Csc Providence, all unionized employee groups are members of CUPE, with the exception of teaching staff.”
“Thus, on November 21, learning will be offered remotely, in asynchronous mode, for students from kindergarten to grade 12. Student work will still be accessible through a digital platform in the event that students and parents require schedule flexibility to accomplish their learning tasks.”
CTV News is reaching out to the region’s other school board on their plans.