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All Guelph schools to close Wednesday if union stages walk out

School boards say school closures would be to ensure student safety in the event of a walk out
OSSTF Picket
OSSTF members hold an information picket. Village Media file photo

Guelph workers represented by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) are set to take part in a one-day, province-wide withdrawal of services Wednesday if a new agreement is not reached with the province. 

If that happens, all schools in both the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) and the Wellington Catholic DIstrict School Board (WCDSB) will be closed for the day.

The one-day strike will come after six days of information pickets and withdrawal of selected administrative services that began Nov. 26.

Workers represented by the OSSTF vary between school boards in the province. In the UGDSB, the OSSTF represents secondary teachers and secondary occasional teachers, educational assistants in both elementary and secondary schools, early childhood educators in elementary schools, office clerical and technical staff in elementary and secondary schools as well as in the board and, finally, student support personnel which includes child/youth workers, social workers and psychological workers in both elementary and secondary schools.

“The decision to close schools is never an easy one,” said UGDSB spokesperson Heather Loney, adding that the reason for school closure is because the withdrawal of services would impact schools’ ability for effective supervision and ensuring student safety. 

The UGDSB is regularly posting updates for students, parents and school staff to follow on its website.

In the WCDSB, OSSTF represents educational assistants, early childhood educators, office/clerical staff, IT staff, professional student services such as youth workers, social workers, speech and language pathologists, psychological associates and board-certified behaviour analysts. 

“Certainly, we recognize that this is a disruption to our families in terms of needing to find child care for them for the day and given that its a planned one-day walkout. We’re hoping that it will minimize any impact,” said Director of Education Tamara Nugent. 

"We’re hoping for an expedited and just resolution,” said Nugent adding that families can continue to get updates online on the board website, school website and through social media.

OSSTF president Harvey Bischof said in a news release that after months of bargaining, the management team has avoided any meaningful discussion on class size, staffing, mandatory e-learning, along with other issues that impact the quality of student learning. 

“We do recognize that our one-day walkout will cause short-term disruption in the lives of students and parents, and we are disappointed that we’ve been driven to take this job action. We cannot, however, stand aside and do nothing while the long-term interests of students are being compromised by the Ford government,” said Bischof.