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Published on Oct 6, 2019 10:40

Hello Everyone,

It has certainly been an eventful week, and no doubt by now you have received our Director, Mr. Beal's message about the labour situation. To recap his message, if there is no tentative agreement reached with CUPE this weekend, the union that represents our custodians, then there will be a full strike Monday (tomorrow). If that happens, St. Catherine of Siena will be closed to students for health and safety reasons. Non-striking staff will continue to report to work, but custodians will engage in lawful picketing activities at various locations. I know this is of great concern to you, so I will try to address the kinds of questions you may have as the weekend unfolds.

If there is a strike . . . 

Q: Will my children have access to the building to get books or other learning materials from school? 

A. No. The building will be closed to students for the duration of the strike. If your child has left something important, like needed medication, asthma inhaler, epi-pen etc. please contact the school.

Q. Can the teachers provide work through Google Classroom or email for my child to work on?

A. No. Some students do not have reliable internet access and others may choose not to do the work. This would cause significant instructional difficulties for the classroom upon return. We would recommend that children read, journal and do math related review activities if the strike occurs and lasts for any length of time.

Q. Will students have to make up lost time due to a protracted strike?

A. While we have no way of predicting how long a possible strike could last, lost time will not be made up by shortening Christmas break, March Break or extending the school year into summer. Teachers will develop revised units of study to account for the reduced time available.

Q. Will this affect my child's grades?

Grades will not be affected as students will not be expected to complete work during a strike. 

Q. I paid for a field trip or lunch meal program. What happens if it is cancelled?

A. If we can reschedule the trip we will hang on to your payment. If we are unable to reschedule it, or if it is rescheduled to a day your child cannot attend, we will refund your payment. If you paid through School-Day you will get an automatic refund. We will extend your lunch program payment to an additional week (or whatever number needed) to make up for lost lunch day(s).

Q. Is there the potential for other strike action this year from other unions?

All education sector collective agreements expired August 31, 2019, and they are all currently under negotiation for renewal. Any of the other unions representing school staff (OECTA representing our teachers and OSSTF representing EAs, Office and Clerical, and DECE's) could take strike actions up to and including full withdrawal of service this year. They too would be provincial strikes affecting school boards across Ontario.

I'm sure there may be other questions or concerns, so please watch for updates over the coming days. I wish this had been a more positive message. Just know that our Board supports and endorses the collective bargaining rights of all its' employees, and respects the negotiations process. We know that if a strike occurs it is very difficult for our CUPE members and disruptive to families. I ask you to join me and our staff in praying for a fair and just resolution to this contract dispute.