Sudbury Rainbow secondary school teachers' strike worries student athletes

The strike by high school teachers in Sudbury's English public schools not only affects classes, but also cancels extracurricular activities.

Teens depend on spring sports season for scouting opportunities, scholarships

Emma Heidrich, co-president of Lo-Ellen Park Athletics, said student athletes will be affected by the teachers' strike. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

The strike by high school teachers in Sudbury's English public schools affects not only classes, but also cancels extracurricular activities — and that's a concern for some student athletes. 

High school teachers with Sudbury's Rainbow District School Board took to the picket lines on Monday after local talks with the school board failed.

Some students rely on the spring sports season for scouting opportunities and scholarships to post-secondary institutions.

"This definitely will affect us in the long run," said Emma Heidrich, co-president of Lo-Ellen Park Athletics.

Outside the empty school yard at Lockerby Composite School, the sounds of soccer and track and field practice fell silent, replaced by the march of a picket line.

Grade 11 student Madison Kvaltin said she worries about how prepared she will be for her final year of studies.

"A lot of my courses are required for next year for post-secondary," she said. "So I'm really afraid that I won't get that knowledge."

Labour troubles across Ontario

As a result of the strike, all instructional programs for students in Grades 9 to 12 are cancelled starting Monday in Rainbow schools. The schools will also be closed to students, including Barrydowne College and the Adult Day School.

The board offered the following information for parents:

  • Buses for secondary students will not operate.
  • Buses will continue their routes for elementary students only.
  • Dual credits will continue at Cambrian College.
  • Programs for Grade 7 and 8 students at Chelmsford Valley District Composite School will continue at Chelmsford Public School.
  • Programs for Grade 7 and 8 students at Lively District Secondary School will continue at Walden Public School.
  • Community use of schools, in the evenings and on weekends, will proceed as scheduled.
  • Students are encouraged to continue their learning through self-directed study.
  • Resources are available through the Rainbow District School Board website.

The Rainbow District School Board has approximately 5,000 secondary school students in 10 schools in Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin Island. There are 401 permanent secondary teachers and 125 occasional secondary teachers in Rainbow Schools.

The NDP got some of its biggest donations from unions, including $1,330 from the Rainbow District branch of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, who are now on strike against the Liberal government. Steelworkers Local 6500 and OPSEU were among the other union donors to the New Democrats. Unifor, which represents hundreds of workers in the Sudbury area, gave $1,330 to the NDP, but donated $9,975 to the Liberals. Sudbury union Ironworkers Local 786 also supported the Liberals to the tune of $9,975. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Labour troubles with Ontario's teachers are also growing. Several other union locals have indicated plans to strike in the coming weeks if they can't reach a deal with their school boards.

English public elementary teachers across the province will be in a legal strike position by May 10, and Catholic teachers in Ontario have voted in favour of a strike, but have not yet set a date.

Bargaining with teachers in Ontario is happening on two levels. Issues such as salary, benefits and class size are being negotiated between the province, the school boards' association and the unions. School boards are also negotiating other issues with their local unions.


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