Wes Hahn, Director of Education for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB), says schools will be closed Friday if the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the province don’t come to an agreement.
“For the safety of our students, should there be a strike on Friday, Nov. 4, our school buildings and Board sites will be closed to students, but will remain open to administrators, designated early childhood educators, teachers, and non-striking staff,” he says in a statement published on the school board’s website. “Without our CUPE staff, we cannot safely operate TLDSB schools for students. It is important to note that other school boards across the province may have different or fewer employee groups as part of CUPE, and therefore, would be able to keep their schools open.”
All student programming will move online, he says, and teachers will provide asynchronous learning through their online classrooms. He adds that parents and guardians should make alternative childcare arrangements for Friday, if needed.
Hahn points out that CUPE members represent secretaries, clerks, technicians, custodial and maintenance staff, and educational assistants for TLDSB. “These members are critical in keeping our school buildings and sites safe for students, not only for the cleanliness of our buildings, but for the support students receive each day,” he continues. “We respect and value our CUPE staff and are hopeful an agreement is met before the end of the week.”
Meanwhile, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board says it has not come to a decision just yet.
“We know that uncertainty is difficult. Please know that our first priority is always the health and safety of everyone in our schools and board office locations, and that will remain at the centre of all our decision-making,” reads a letter to parents from Director of Education Frances Bagley.
A board spokesperson says their senior team will meet Wednesday, and parents will be informed of plans by day’s end.