ETFO announces further strike action impacting LDSB schools

As parents and students in the local public school board prepare for two days without school this week, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario has announced its plan for further strike action next week.

Students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 in the Limestone District School Board will not have classes on Thursday, Feb. 6, or Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, as previously announced. Thursday’s strike action on the part of the ETFO educators is part of a province-wide strike that day, and Friday is the day the LDSB was selected for one-day strike action as part of EFTO’s escalated rotating strikes.

Those two days of strike action came about after negotiations between the EFTO, school board associations, and the provincial government “broke down” late on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, according to the union, which prompted the EFTO to move into the escalated rotating strikes.

Continuing those rotating one-day strikes, the EFTO has now given notice to school boards and authorities across the province of strike action next week.

“ETFO’s 83,000 public elementary school educators will be on the picket lines again next week in the hope that the Ford government and Education Minister Lecce will return to talks prepared to support public education,” ETFO President Sam Hammond said in a press release on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.

“It is clear that they are not going to accept the government’s deep cuts to public education. The Minister and his team must come to the table with a mandate to reach a deal that benefits students, student learning and educators. From ETFO’s perspective, fair contract talks must include: appropriate funding for Special Education; a strategy to address classroom violence; maintaining our internationally recognized Kindergarten program; and fair hiring practices,” Hammond continued.

“Educators must have the tools and supports to prepare students to realize their individual aspirations and productively contribute to the economic and social fabric of this province.”

The union announced where it’s rotating one-day strikes will occur next week, including a province-wide strike on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. For those students and parents in the LDSB, that means no school for elementary and intermediate students on Tuesday, Feb. 11, as well as on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 – the date selected by the ETFO for a one-day strike at all LDSB schools.

According to the LDSB, students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 should not report to school on these days. At the same time, all Limestone secondary schools will remain open on these days, and child-care centres located within Limestone schools remain open, as will Early ON programs. Community use of schools within Limestone schools will also continue as scheduled, and users will be notified directly of any changes.

Additionally, the ETFO notified the LDSB that teachers will no longer participate in extra-curricular activities at any time as of Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. Teachers had previously been participating in extra-curriculars if they occurred during the regular school day.

“Teachers represented by ETFO may choose to picket outside Limestone elementary and intermediate schools. They are legally permitted to do so. We ask that those required to cross picket lines be courteous and respectful,” the LDSB said.

“We are hopeful that the parties at the central table are able to reach an agreement soon. We thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding as we respond to these events.”

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