Kitchener-Waterloo

What you need to know about job action by teachers, education workers this week

Elementary and English Catholic teachers are expected to ramp up job action starting Monday, while OSSTF has announced another one-day strike on Wednesday that will impact schools in Guelph and Wellington County.

One-day strikes in Guelph and Wellington County, work-to-rule in elementary and Catholic schools

Elementary and English Catholic teachers are ramping up job action starting Monday while the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation announced its fifth one-day strike will take place on Wednesday, impacting schools in Guelph and Wellington County. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

As students return to classes in Waterloo region, Guelph and Wellington County on Monday, there may be some changes in how their teachers and education workers do their jobs.

Three unions are currently negotiating contacts with the provincial government.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario announced last week it plans to escalate its strike action. Starting on Monday, public elementary school educators won't supervise extra-curricular activities unless they are during the regular school day and they won't take students on field trips.

The union also warned if there's no resolution to contract talks by Jan. 17, rotating strikes will begin on Jan. 20.

The Waterloo Region District School Board warned starting on Monday, all elementary field trips are cancelled "until further notice" as are extracurricular activities taking place outside of school hours.

The board said schools will communicate details with a letter sent home to parents. 

English Catholic teachers start job action

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association has also announced province-wide job action starting Monday.

This will mean teachers will not prepare or input report card comments, they will not enter any diagnostic testing data and they will not participate in EQAO-related activities, including field testing, marking, test prep, or administration of the test.

Teachers will also not attend any meetings and start any tasks related to any ministry of education initiative and they will not conduct or submit any student assessments other than for their own personal assessments.

"This withdrawal of services will not impact the safety of Waterloo Catholic District School Board students and schools and, with the exception of preparation for EQAO testing, direct services provided to our students will be unaffected," the local board said on its website.

Field trips, clubs and special events are also not impacted yet, the board said.

"We do remain hopeful the two sides will return to the bargaining table quickly and will come to a fair and respectful agreement that serves the best interests of our students," the board said.

EQAO a no-go

Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced this week that the administration of the EQAO Grade 9 math assessment would be left up to individual school boards to complete.

Lecce issued a statement Wednesday saying the test "provides valuable information" to students, families and the province about performance, adding it "should not be in jeopardy for our students."

Waterloo Region District School Board, Waterloo Catholic District School Board, Upper Grand District School Board and Wellington Catholic District School Board have all said they will not participate in the assessments this month.

"A student's final grade includes a portion of the Grade 9 EQAO assessment. Since students will not be completing the assessment, schools will eliminate the assessment from the overall mark calculations," the WRDSB said in a statement. "Students' final grades will not be impacted by the absence of this assessment."

That statement echoes how the other local school boards will handle the testing and students' marks as well.

Another one-day strike

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, which represents high school teachers as well as educational workers in some elementary schools, announced its fifth round of one-day strikes if a contract deal is not reached.

The Waterloo Region District School Board is not impacted "and schools will be open to students on Wednesday, Jan. 15," the board said in a statement Friday.

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is also not impacted by the potential strike.

Schools in Guelph and Wellington County, however, will be closed on Wednesday if the strike goes ahead, both the Upper Grand District School Board and the Wellington Catholic District School Board confirmed Friday.

As well, École élè​​​​​​​mentaire catholique Saint-René-Goupil in Guelph will be closed.

"We recommend that you begin to make plans for the care of your children," the Catholic board said in a statement on Friday. "We continue to hope and pray for a fair and just negotiated agreement to be reached soonest."

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