Sudbury's English public secondary school teachers' strike enters third week

English public secondary school students in Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin are entering a third week without classes as high school teachers with the Rainbow board continue to walk picket lines.

Midterm marks will be used as final marks if strike drags on, board says

Rainbow secondary teachers in the Sudbury area have been walking picket lines since April 27. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Featured VideoEnglish public elementary teachers in Ontario started job action this morning. We spoke with the Director of Education at the Rainbow District School Board, Norm Blaseg, about how the board is prepared for a withdrawal of administrative services.

English public secondary school students in Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin are entering a third week without classes as high school teachers with the Rainbow board continue to walk picket lines.

Rainbow secondary teachers in the Sudbury area went on strike April 27. Teachers in the Peel and Durham regions are also on strike after talks at their local bargaining tables failed.

Norm Blaseg, director of education for the Rainbow District School Board, spoke on CBC Radio's current affairs program Morning North on Monday.

"We are still at an impasse," he said. 

"We want our kids at school. We want our teachers back at work. There are some challenges there for sure."

The board is still monitoring to determine if students are at risk of losing the school year because they are not in class, Blaseg said. 

During past labour disputes, midterm marks have been used as final marks, but that is not ideal for students hoping to bring grades up before the end of the year, he added.

"The challenge is how about those kids who don't have a passing mark going into the midterm, right? So we are really looking at that, the ministry is looking at that, and we hope to have something worked out,' he said. 

"If there needs to be a contingency plan, there will be one in place."

Proms to go ahead

While teachers are on strike, principals continue to work on plans for graduation ceremonies and proms with the help of parents, Blaseg said.

"They will ensure that a grad does happen," he said. "It may not look the same, but we are working to make sure it does happen."

But, students who play high school sports in the spring are out of luck for regional and provincial tournaments because teachers are required for supervision, Blaseg said.

The next talks with the Rainbow local of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation are not scheduled until next week, he said.

Work-to-rule by elementary teachers

Meanwhile, Ontario elementary teachers began a work-to-rule campaign Monday. Teachers won't write report card comments or take part in any activities related to provincial standardized testing.

The withdrawal of such administrative duties is not expected to have much of an impact on students or parents, Blaseg said.

The Rainbow board has not been informed what the next potential phases of job action could include, he said, adding it's premature to speculate on whether schools and daycares within schools would remain open if picket lines eventually go up.

"Before we would close any daycares we would typically have conversations with the unions to say, 'Okay, what is it that you will impact, whether it is daycares, or any community use of schools," Blaseg said.