Sudbury students to walk out in protest against education changes
Student walkouts will happen across Ontario
Thousands of students from across the province, including northeastern Ontario, will be walking out of class on Thursday afternoon.
They are taking part in a province-wide movement called Students Say No. They are protesting recently announced changes to the education system announced by the provincial government.
Last month, the province announced it will increase class sizes for intermediate and high school classes. The average class size for secondary Grades 9 to 12 will be adjusted to 28, up from the current average of 22.
The province has said it will maintain the current cap on class sizes for kindergarten and primary grades at 29 and 23, respectively.
A new sex-education program will also be introduced and cell phones will be banned during instructional class time. Students will also be required to take four online courses in order to graduate.
Grade 8 student Rylee Peltier is organizing the walkout at Marymount Academy in Sudbury.
"Our main message I think would be that we're not going to let someone like Lisa Thompson or Doug Ford control what we are going to learn in our school experience, especially when it affects Indigenous youth or it affects low income families," she said.
"It affects us all, teachers and students alike."
Peltier says she anticipates about 80 students will take part from her school.
Grade 10 student Marissa MacDonald is helping to organize a walkout at Chelmsford Valley Composite School.
"I think that it is going to be a good turnout for our school and I think it's … a good way to get our point across," she said.
"If all the other schools in Ontario are planning as well I think it's going to kind of make an impact in the decisions that are to come."
Students taking part will walk out at 1:15 p.m. on Thursday. MacDonald says they've been told no student will be expelled or suspended for taking part.
'Extra caution' needed for drivers, police say
Police throughout the region are asking drivers to be cautious due to the walk out.
"Reduced speed and extra attention to pedestrians are called for as a safety measure," Timmins police stated in a release.
Ontario Provincial Police say they will work to maintain the flow of traffic but also "provide a safe and peaceful opprotunity to exercise their lawful rights while minimizing the impact on the travelling public, when possible."
With files from Angela Gemmill