A major Ontario teachers' union and the province failed to come up with a deal to avoid a high school teacher walkout today, fully or partially closing most area schools.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) has been without a contract since the end of August and started a work-to-rule campaign last week.
The walkout means all public schools in Ottawa and all French schools in eastern Ontario are closed — including elementary schools, because school boards have said a lack of striking support workers would make schools unsafe.
Outside of Ottawa, high schools are closed but elementary schools are open and elementary classes held in high school buildings will still happen.
The Renfrew County District School Board is a slight exception: because its kindergarten classes involve OSSTF members, those classes are cancelled but Grades 1 through 8 are unaffected.
English Catholic schools are not affected at all and will remain open.
Many parents of younger students have been scrambling to find child-care for the day, with many after-school programs affected as well.
Students and parents can check with their individual board for information on child care, buses, extracurriculars and other specific information.
Union leadership has said it's upset over e-learning, larger class sizes and other measures that would degrade the quality of education in the province.
OSSTF president Harvey Bischof said late Tuesday the government had not presented any new proposals in the past four days of bargaining at a downtown Toronto hotel.
He represents about 60,000 public high school teachers, educational assistants, secretaries, early childhood educators and more across the province.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Tuesday the main issue is compensation.
"Our government has remained reasonable at the negotiating table, with the objective of keeping students in class," Lecce told reporters.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board sent out an automated phone message to parents at about 12:30 a.m. about the strike.
Later that morning it apologized for the disruption, saying it got some backlash.
"We were aware how important this message was for many families, and wanted to maintain our commitment to notify the community as quickly as possible after OSSTF made its decision known," a spokesperson said in an email.
"This was an unusual circumstance and we will take the feedback into consideration for future planning."