UPDATE: English, French Catholic School Boards to close if support workers walk

The Windsor Essex Catholic Education Centre. (Photo by Alexandra Latremouille)

The Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board will close all elementary and secondary schools Monday if support workers strike, and the French Catholic board announced Thursday night they will follow suit.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees gave five days notice Wednesday that it would go on strike October 7 if talks with the province do not result in a tentative collective agreement.

The union represents school custodians, office staff, educational assistants, designated early childhood educators, child and youth workers, psychotherapists, and other para-professionals.

“The health and safety of all of our students and staff remains the board’s primary concern, and was the predominant factor that was considered in making this decision,” read a release from the Terry Lyons, Director of Education with the WECDSB.

“We would strongly suggest that parents and guardians begin looking at alternative arrangements for childcare. Parents who have children enrolled in privately-operated daycare services, and before and after programs in our schools should consult with the providers of those programs to determine whether they will remain open should a strike occur,” it continued.

All WECDSB teachers, administrators and non-CUPE staff are expected to report to work on Monday as usual, strike or not.

Conseil Scolaire Catholique Providence, the French Catholic school board, sent a message to parents Thursday evening stating they will be closed as well and parents are urged to start looking for childcare alternatives should a strike occur.

“CSC Providence will, unfortunately, be forced to suspend all its elementary, secondary and adult education services and close its elementary and secondary schools, as well as the Adult Training Centre, as soon as CUPE members’ work stoppage begins,” the school board said in a French-language message. The board has about 700 employees represented by CUPE.

Meanwhile, the Greater Essex County District School Board has decided it will keep schools open. A release from the public board states teachers and administrators will be at schools on Monday.

“GECDSB teachers, administrators and education support staff will still be in schools on Monday and a plan will be in place to maintain student safety and building operations in the absence of the striking employees,” stated the release.

Talks between the union and the government of Ontario are expected to continue, but the strike deadline is midnight Sunday, October 6.

The WECDSB’s St. Michael’s Adult Campus on Detroit Street in Windsor will remain open if there is a strike.

—with files from Mark Brown