Catholic schools work-to-rule campaign could affect Grade 9 EQAO tests, says Windsor-Essex board
'We do have open lines of communication with our colleagues in Toronto,' says Stephen Fields
A representative for the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) says an upcoming work-to-rule campaign won't have a "major direct impact" on classroom learning in the region, but a job action would affect the administration of the province's annual Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) standardized test.
Earlier this week, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA) announced plans to launch a work-to-rule campaign on Monday, Jan. 13, should bargaining taking place on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10 fail to lead to a deal with the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) government.
According to an OECTA media release issued Wednesday, teachers won't prepare report cards, attend or participate in Ministry of Education initiatives and refrain from participating in activities related to the province's Education Quality and Accountability Office.
Stephen Fields, the communication coordinator for the WECDSB, said schools across the region will remain open.
"We continue to focus our attention on students and ensuring that they continue to get the best education that we can provide them under the present circumstances," he said.
Nonetheless, Fields acknowledged that a work-to-rule campaign might mean the board will have to reschedule Grade 9 EQAO tests currently set for Jan. 17 and Jan. 22.
We continue to focus our attention on students ... - Stephen Fields, Communications Coordinator, Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board
"Obviously it poses some scheduling difficulties and those kinds of things," said Fields. "But, we've got a lot of very experienced administrators who are pretty adept at working around issues."
Fields added that he's confident the board will be able to make alternative accommodations in the event that EQAO tests aren't administered as currently scheduled.
He added that the WECDSB isn't directly involved in negotiations between OECTA and the Ontario government.
"We do have open lines of communication with our colleagues in Toronto, and we continue to watch those talks," Fields said. "We're just hopeful that both sides can come to a quick resolution that meet the needs of everyone involved and keeps students in the classroom."
Fields spoke with CBC News on Wednesday. At the time, he said the board hadn't seen anything "in terms of impact from parents just yet."
"I'm sure they'll have a lot of questions in the next few days ahead," he said. "We will be communicating directly to our principals and give them an update on how this action is going to affect their schools, so that they'll be able to adequately communicate that to any concerned parents."
Ontario's Catholic school board made its announcement on the same day that teachers and educational workers across eight Ontario public school boards took to picket lines for a one-day strike.
Public board education workers in Windsor-Essex held strikes outside five locations across the region, including schools in Amherstburg, Ont., Windsor, Ont. and Belle River, Ont, as well as the Leamington, Ont. office of Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls.
With files from Sanjay Maru