London-area public, Catholic schools to close if employees strike

(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / tomwang)

You may add two London-area school boards to those closing Monday due to a potential strike by educational support employees.

Both the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) and the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) announced Thursday evening that if there is no agreement by midnight Sunday, all school buildings will close starting Monday. The announcements were posted on both boards’ official websites.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents early childhood educators, educational assistants, clerical staff, custodial employees, IT staff and other similar job titles. They are currently involved in contract talks with the province of Ontario.

The TVDSB said they weighed all their options carefully before deciding to close school buildings in the event of a strike.

“After thoughtful discussion and considering all options, Thames Valley District School Board has decided to close schools for all students effective Monday, October 7, unless an agreement is reached before that time,” read the announcement on the board’s website. “If a settlement is reached, we will communicate with families as quickly as possible when students may return to class.”

About 3,400 employees at the TVDSB are affected, said the district, though it is made clear that the dispute is between CUPE and the province.

“Our valued CUPE staff are critical front-line employees of Thames Valley District School Board. We respect the negotiation process and remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached at the provincial bargaining table,” read the TVDSB statement.

Meanwhile, the LDCSB said on its own website that not only classes may be cancelled, but also all before-and-after school programs, sports and extracurricular activities. However, daycare centres on school property will proceed on a case-by-case basis, though parents are being encouraged to have childcare arrangements ready.

“This cancellation affects all elementary schools, all secondary schools as well as adult, alternative and continuing education programs,” read the LDCSB statement. About 800 CUPE-represented support staff are affected at that board.

Teachers, administrators and non-CUPE-represented staff at both districts are expected to report to work Monday as usual, strike or otherwise.