The tension created by the recent Ontario government legislation regarding teacher salaries is having an impact in the northeast as extra-curricular activities — such as field trips and sports teams — are already dropping off the schedule.
The chair of the District School Board Ontario North East said the majority of schools in the board are losing at least some of their extra-curricular activities this year. But Doug Shearer said he hopes some teachers may change their minds later in the year.
"It depends on the individual teachers and what their desires are," he said.
"We'd certainly love for them to come back and do volunteer work that they've been doing."
Frustrated with the lack of extra-curricular activities, students in Kirkland Lake and Iroquois Falls walked out of their classes last week after their schools dropped sports programs and field trips.
Over at the Sudbury-based Rainbow District School Board, the director of education said very few extra-curricular activities have been cancelled so far. Norm Blaseg said many activities are already run largely by other volunteers and only one teacher or employee of the school board has to attend.
"But I would hope that if indeed an individual, a teacher, does make that choice ... there would be someone there to support the kids," he said.
Blaseg said it's too early to determine if the larger provincial tournaments or competitions will be affected by the dispute.
Shearer said the schools can't run programs with volunteers unless there is a teacher present, "so unfortunately, using outside volunteers, we wouldn't have the protection of the insurance companies."
He noted it's not known yet if sport tournaments or activities at the competitive level will be affected by the contract dispute.
The unions representing elementary and high school teachers across the province are urging teachers to reconsider participating in extra-curricular activities.