Windsor public elementary, high schools closed Wednesday if no OSSTF agreement reached

If an agreement hasn't been reached with the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation by midnight on Tuesday, all Greater Essex County District schools will be closed — both high schools and elementary schools.

According to GECDSB public relations officer Scott Scantlebury, employees from OSSTF are represented in both school levels.

"Their absence would create a gap in supervision and thus impact student safety," said Scantlebury. 

Public elementary and high schools will be closed for one day only — Dec. 4, 2019 — and will operate as normal on Dec. 5 "unless something else comes up" said Scantlebury. 

Student transportation for GECDSB students will be cancelled and the five Early On centres will be closed. School-based daycares will remain open.

The OSSTF represents:

  • Secondary school teachers.
  • Educational assistants at both levels.
  • Early childhood educators at the elementary level.
  • Professional student services personnel.
  • Child and youth workers at both levels.
  • Developmental service workers.
  • Continuing education instructors.
  • Language and employment services employees.

Parents preparing for strike

As education staff across the province ready themselves for a potential strike, some parents at one Windsor school say they support teachers and other staff — even if it means students end up missing school.

Therese Hounsell, whose son Walker attends Grade 4 at Giles Campus French Immersion Public School, described a potential strike as an "inconvenience," but added that "the bottom line is the kids deserve a classroom with all the supports that they need available to them."

Hounsell said her husband could is sometimes able to work from home, which would enable him to take care of their son. If not, she said she could call in sick, which would lead to her losing a "day of pay."

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

"Which is serious for our household," Hounsell said. "Especially three weeks before Christmas. Still, again, I will go back to the fact that the teachers, the support staff, the students, our school community — in the big picture, it's worth a loss of wages, even if it's painful."

"Sure, we might be scrambling a little bit to try to find a way to get our kid looked after, but in the big picture, this is definitely a good thing," she said.

Trevor Laframboise, a self-employed stay-at-home dad whose nine-year-old daughter also attends Giles Campus, said he felt like he was given enough time to prepare for a possible strike.

Tahmina Aziz/CBC

"These things tend to happen quickly, but I feel that it was more than enough time to get prepared," he said. 

Laframboise also expressed support for Ontario education staff. 

"I think it's important that the children get the best education that they can," he said. "The way that recent changes have affected the classroom are definitely a negative, I think, in terms of education for the kids. So I think it's a good action that they're doing and I support them fully."

In the event of a strike, some organization, like The School House Academy, will be offering day programs to accommodate students.