Online learning in Hamilton for Catholic students if CUPE strikes, public board has ‘contingency plans’ | inTheHammer – | Team Cansler

By Nathan Sager

Published November 16, 2022 at 5:13 p.m

Families with children in Hamilton’s two largest school boards are likely familiar with the drill in case Ontario’s lowest-paid educational workers quit their jobs next week.

A CUPE strike, which could take place on Monday (November 21) if no collective bargaining agreement is reached between the union and the province, would see the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Schools Board (HWCDSB) close schools and put online learning on hold surrounded. The Hamilton-Wentworth Public Board (HWDSB) says it will draw up “contingency plans” and share them with families on Thursday.

The Catholic Board has about 1,000 CUPE-OSBCU members in fewer schools than HWDSB. These include clerks from the school and board office, educational assistants, designated early childhood education educators, social workers, speech-language pathologists, psychometricians and children and youth workers, according to a letter to families from Education Director David Hansen and Chairman Patrick J. (Pat) Daly. Any HWCDSB parent/guardian who needs a device for online learning should contact their child’s school principal before Friday (November 18).

About 500 of the potentially affected CUPE brothers are HWDSB employees, which explains the different approaches.

Earlier this month, Catholic schools in Hamilton were closed for two days on November 4 and 7 and public schools for one day on November 7 as CUPE’s majority-female workforce of 55,000 walked off the job. They returned on November 8 after the Ontario government’s PC Party, led by Premier Doug Ford and under the portfolio of Secretary of Education Stephen Lecce, agreed to withdraw Return-to-Work Act 28, which violates clause 33 of the charter used to suspend workers’ bargaining rights and impose a four-year contract.

The law was repealed two days ago, although the education minister did not take part in the roll-call vote. The latest is that the province and union say the mediators will continue to negotiate until the strike period expires. There is reportedly a middle ground on wages, but CUPE says the province is reluctant to invest in education.

The wage increase amounts to about 3.95 percent per year. That’s still below the current inflation rate of 6.9%, but it’s higher than the government’s original bids and appears to be indexed to hourly wages, which CUPE cited as key, given that many of its members are hourly rather than wage-earners.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared on March 20, schoolchildren in Ontario have missed more days of face-to-face study than their peers in any other Canadian and American jurisdiction.

Last year, researchers from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and four southern Ontario universities authored a report that predicted the amount of lost education caused by the pandemic would cause long-term economic damage. The report, COVID-19 and Education Disruption in Ontario: New Evidenceidentified “a need for explicit education restoration strategies that must be funded on top of regular school budgets.”

The authors added: “Policies may include active measures to ensure appropriate universal responses (general curriculum adjustments, instruction and student support) and targeted intensive accelerated learning programs for groups most disadvantaged
through the impact of COVID-19 on health and education.”

This June 2021 report was prepared for the Ontario Science Advisory Table. In 2020-21, this voluntary group of hundreds of doctors, scientists and administrators, who often spoke out against the prime minister’s pandemic strategies, who has no medical training or a health sciences degree.

In April, the scientific advisory table within Public Health Ontario was moved from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. It was disbanded over the summer.

– with files from Ryan Rumbolt and The Canadian Press

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