UCDSB says schools to stay open during work to rule

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The provincewide job action by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) will target administrative tasks and won't impact students, according to the unions.

High school teachers will no longer be prepping for EQAO testing, participating in unpaid meetings after school, or leaving comments on report cards.

In addition to the information picketing, OSSTF members will begin a limited withdrawal of services that will affect government or school board initiatives only.

It's a triple threat with the potential to affect almost all of Ontario's two million elementary and high school students.

"ETFO wants the Ford government to work with us on important issues but, so far, it has not shown much interest in doing that", ETFO President Sam Hammond said in a statement Tuesday.

Andre Dumais, teacher bargaining unit president, added, "We want to maintain the high quality of education that was in place past year prior to these cuts being announced".

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Education Minister Stephen Lecce has criticized the unions for asking members not to participate in any activities associated with the new "back-to-basics" math curriculum. They could be before or after school or at lunch hour, she said.

"That question could be true if we didn't make moves, if we didn't make significant moves at the table to keep kids in class, but we did", Lecce said.

"This government has been trying to pick a fight with unions since Day One", NDP Education Critic Marit Stiles has said. "The major concern really remains a fault line on compensation", Lecce told reporters on Monday, while speaking about the "outstanding issues" with both groups. The government recently passed legislation limiting raises for all public sector workers to one per cent per year for three years. "We trust that the provincial government and the union will remain committed to the negotiation process and to reaching a fair settlement", a notice on the ADSB website states. "Classes will be held, students will be taught".

The ETFO represents approximately 700 elementary teachers at the board, while the OSSTF represents approximately 730 secondary teachers and education workers, including educational assistants early childhood educators, office professionals and technician staff, and professional student services personnel.

Even at two, such a requirement would be an anomaly in North America, where just a handful of US states either mandate or simply encourage students to take an e-learning course.

But the teachers don't want any mandatory online courses or any class size increases. "This means the government needs to sit down and focus on the (bargaining) table and address our concerns seriously", said Elizabeth Kettle, president of the Ottawa-Carleton local of the elementary teachers' union. Both unions are in legal strike positions after receiving strong mandates from their members.

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