Strikes to keep public elementary students out of classroom for four days over next two weeks
Public elementary teachers hit the picket line outside Elgin Street Public School on Wednesday as part of rotating one-day strikes across Ontario. (Courtesy: Christina Succi)
OTTAWA -- Public elementary students in Ottawa will be out of the classroom more often than in it over the next 10 days.
Elementary schools with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Upper Canada District School Board are closed today as part of rotating strikes across the province. All public elementary schools will close Thursday in a province-wide walkout.
OCDSB says the one-day strikes will also impact grade 7 and 8 students attending Bell, Earl of March, Longfields-Davidson Heights, Merivale and Sir Robert Borden High Schools.
School transportation for elementary students will be cancelled Wednesday and Thursday.
One parent walking the picket lines outside Elgin Street Public School says she supports the teachers.
"I worry about the deregulation of class sizes and the lack of resource teachers available," said Lisa Greenspoon.
"I really believe in defending the public education that we have."
All secondary schools will be open on both days and students in grades 9-12 are expected to attend school.
On Tuesday, ETFO announced another round of rotating strikes that will close schools next week:
- Feb. 10: Upper Canada District School Board
- Feb. 11: Province-wide walkout
- Feb. 12: Limestone District School Board and Renfrew County District School Board
- Feb. 13: Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, Ottawa Children's Treatment Centre
The OCDSB also has a professional development day scheduled for Feb. 14, meaning students would not be in class.
ETFO President Sam Hammond said the union and government were close to a deal last week when the province’s negotiators tabled new proposals at the last minute.
Rather than keep kids in the classroom, which Education Minister (Stephen) Lecce says is his goal, this government is deliberately creating chaos in our public education system," said Hammond at a press conference on Tuesday.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has put forward "reasonable proposals" at the bargaining table, including a commitment to maintain full-day kindergarten.
"It is deeply disappointing parents are still seeing repeated escalation at the expense of our students to advance higher compensation, including more generous benefit plans," said Lecce in a statement.
"As many of the signs say, we'd rather be teaching right now," said teacher and union representative Sean Cinnamon.
"We're here for class sizes, we're here for full day kindergarden model and special needs funding."