File photo of CUPE rally. File photo of CUPE rally.

Local school boards hope CUPE strike is avoided

Both the public and Catholic school boards in Lambton and Kent counties are reviewing the possible impacts of a strike by education support workers.

CUPE announced on Wednesday morning that education workers, including secretaries, custodians, educational assistants, early childhood educators, and library and computer technicians will escalate job action to include a full strike at Ontario school boards starting on Monday if a new collective agreement has not been reached by then.

The labour sanctions will affect normal school operations with delays, cancellations, and postponements but no schools are expected to close.

Both boards said they appreciate that there may be significant impacts on families.

"Families are encouraged to begin to explore alternate child care arrangements for next week, in the event strike action results in school closures," they said.

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board has already said it will close its schools on Monday if CUPE members go on strike because it would not be able to safely operate them.

Both the Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB) and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board are developing contingency plans in case of a work stoppage by CUPE members. The school boards said they will reach out when updates are available.

The Lambton Kent District School Board said it is committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students, staff, and visitors.

"Student safety and learning remain a top priority for all LKDSB staff and the LKDSB will be taking all measures to ensure the educational impact on students is minimized," read a statement on the Board's webpage.

The LKDSB added it is hopeful fair agreements can be reached for all union groups, and job actions will be avoided.

Visit its webpage for up-to-date details regarding contract negotiations.

The local Catholic school board also hopes a strike is avoided and said it remains committed to continuing student learning and academic programs.

"As always, our first priority is to operate schools in a safe environment for all students, staff and visitors," the Catholic board wrote on its webpage.

Updated information for parents, guardians, and students can be found on its website.

Contracts for all education unions expired on August 31, 2019.

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