School boards representing Clarington say schools will be closed in event of a CUPE strike

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Published October 31, 2022 at 2:05 pm

Clarington students could see their schools shut down if educational workers represented by CUPE go on strike next week.

Both the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Boards have issued statements that if CUPE follows through on its strike mandate and if the Ontario government doesn’t create legislation to prevent it – as it has threatened – schools will be closed.

“IF a provincial agreement is not reached next week, and IF there is a full withdrawal of service by CUPE employees, our schools would be CLOSED to students,” Kawartha board director of education Rita Russo said. “We appreciate that the potential of closing our schools is difficult news, and not a decision we make lightly, but the reality is that without CUPE education workers on-site, we could not ensure safe conditions for all our students.”

The Kawartha Pine Ride board represents public school students in Clarington.

The Peterborough-Victoria-Northumberland-Clarington Catholic board, which speaks for Catholic students in Clarington, issued an identical statement, with the addition that all students would then transition to online learning for the duration of the strike.

The rationale behind the decision to close the schools centres around student safety, including:

  • supervision of students;
  • medical support and care for all students;
  • safe operation of water and sanitation systems, including required water flushing;
  • conditions of school buildings and classrooms, and
  • overall safety and security.

CUPE represents custodians, maintenance workers, clerical staff, educational workers, early childhood educators, and professional staff such as learning commons specialists, paraprofessionals and central IT.

The CUPE staff in schools are “vital” to students’ success, their safety and the effective functioning and operation of the schools and buildings each day, noted Russo.

CUPE education workers will be in a legal strike position Thursday, November 3 and school boards must be given five days’ notice of any possible strike action.

The PVNC Catholic Board said they remain “hopeful” that an agreement can be reached next week and that a strike can be averted.

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