School boards brace for impact of teachers' protest
School-based activities like sports teams and class trips could be in jeopardy for northern students as the provincial unions that represent English public teachers are calling for a reduction in volunteer time to protest a contract legislated by the government.
School boards in the north are now waiting for word from their teachers to see if activities will have to be cancelled after provincial union leaders have asked secondary school teachers to withdraw extra services one day a week.
Elementary school teachers have been asked to stop volunteering for all extracurricular activities. Everything from sports to band practice and class trips could be affected.
The president of the union local for elementary teachers in the Rainbow board said educators will have to make an individual choice about whether to participate in the protest.
"No one is being told or directed that they cannot partake," Barb Blasutti said. "We are just urging them to pause and reconsider. And this is, of course, in response to this legislation."
Watching and waiting
School board officials around the north will likely know more about the local impact by the end of the week, said Doug Shearer, chair of District School Board North East.
"I'm not aware of any official correspondence that has come to us saying that teachers are withdrawing their services in any fashion," he said, adding that his board has no contingency plans for things like sports — should teachers stop volunteering to coach and supervise students.
All Jennifer Sarlo can do is watch and wait.
"Right now it seems like it is a provincial battle," the chair of the Algoma District School Board said. "But we know it is going to hit the ground in our area and what that looks like we are not really sure right now."