Ottawa's largest school board decided Thursday night that classes would be cancelled at all of its elementary schools Friday, but teachers are expected to be at work after the Ontario Labour Relations Board deemed the planned one-day political protest walkout an "unlawful strike."
NEED TO KNOW
- Ottawa-Carleton District School Board | All elementary schools are open but regular classes are cancelled. Alternate supervised activities are planned for children sent to school.
- Upper Canada District School Board | All elementary schools are open with regular classroom instruction.
- Renfrew County District School Board | All elementary schools are closed.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board made the final decision about 20 minutes after its 8 p.m. deadline. The labour relations board did not make its final call until early Friday morning.
The board had announced Wednesday all 120 of its English public schools were going to be closed Friday due to the provincewide, one-day political protest walkout planned by elementary teachers. The Renfrew County District School Board also closed all 24 of its elementary schools.
The Upper Canada District School Board has opened all of its elementary schools, though.
OCDSB holding alternate activites for children sent to school
On Friday morning just after 7:30 a.m., the OCDSB told parents schools would be open to children and supervised alternate activities would be planned, even though regular classroom instruction was cancelled.
School buses were still cancelled for all of Ottawa's English public elementary schools.
But Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to look into it, calling it "illegal strike activity."
English Teachers' Federation of Ontario president Sam Hammond said Thursday McGuinty's characterization of the pending walkout was beyond his knowledge. He argued the premier shouldn't be using the word "illegal."
But the labour board sided with the premier.
Either way, many parents across the province were left to come up with alternative childcare arrangements for Friday.
"I think it's a difficult situation," said Ottawa parent Rob Lloyd Thursday morning. "There's arguments on both sides. I think it's a shame that the children have to suffer. That's the main thing."
Teachers expected to be at work Friday
Teachers could still protest if the walkout is deemed illegal, but there is a maximum fine of $2,000. A protest had been planned for elementary teachers at Confederation Park.
But Ottawa's public board expected teachers to be at work Friday.
"I am very happy there has been a decision which brings clarity to this situation. Unfortunately, that decision came too late for us to communicate with parents," said Jennifer Adams, director of education at the OCDSB.
"This has been a long and difficult process and I hope that we can start to move forward and return our focus to the work that our teachers do best — teaching and learning."
Also, three different unions representing elementary and high school teachers, support staff and occasional elementary teachers held a rally Thursday afternoon outside the office of Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi.
Teachers at Ontario's English public high schools also cancelled a one-day walkout for Jan. 16, McGuinty announced Friday, after the labour relations board's decision.