Local school boards update families on school closures

After three days of intense hearings between CUPE and the Ontario provincial government have failed to produce a resolution to the province-wide education workers’ protest action, Kingston’s school boards have contacted the families of their students with an update on what this means for the immediate future.

Both the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) and the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB) have closed their buildings pending successful resolution of the labour contract issues.

“Limestone CUPE employees provide critical services in schools across our district, and we cannot safely operate in-person learning for all students without these services,” Krishna Burra, LDSB Director of Education, wrote in a statement on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. “As a result, Limestone schools and buildings will remain closed to students and the public for Monday, November 7, until further notice.”

Burra added that “teachers will continue providing asynchronous learning tasks through pre-established methods like an online platform or e-mail. We will continue to action plans for distribution of resources, devices, and other supplies to further support student learning as the week proceeds.”

David DeSantis, Director of Education for ALCDSB, made a similar statement. “CUPE continues its full withdrawal of services. As a result, all ALCDSB schools will remain closed to students Monday, November 7, 2022 and until further notice. To ensure the health and safety of staff and students all classes will be going to emergency asynchronous online learning.”

DeSantis noted that if the closure is prolonged, there are plans in place to move from asynchronous to synchronous online learning. “If the withdrawal of services continues throughout the week, all emergency online classes will shift to synchronous learning, Wednesday, November 9, 2022. Every effort will be made to remove barriers so that all students can fully participate in their learning during this time.”

The Conseil des Écoles Catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) is taking a different path, deciding to keep school buildings open for in-person classes.

Marc Bertrand, CECCE’s Director of Education, expressed confidence that school administration “would be able to comply with the disinfection instructions requested by the Ministry.”

Boards expressed concern for families and promised updates to come. “We understand school closures for in-person learning may create worries and uncertainty for students, families, and staff,” Burra wrote. “We want to assure you that we will continue to communicate regularly with families to ensure that you have as much information as possible, so that you can make informed decisions and undertake contingency planning.”

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