Leadership with the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board have made the difficult decision to close down their schools and classrooms on Monday due to education workers’ looming strike action – and students are expected to attend virtually until further notice.

Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees are set to walk off the job on Monday as negotiations once again broke down with the Ontario government earlier this week.

Director of Education with the KDPSB, Christy Radbourne, says unless a deal is reached over the weekend, families should plan to make alternate arrangements by Monday until further notice. She says closures will be confirmed to families by email on Sunday by 4 p.m.

Radbourne explains that CUPE members within the KPDSB include custodians and trade and maintenance staff, and due to the winter season and ongoing staffing challenges, they made the decision to close down classrooms in the best interest of student safety.

“We know that school closures present numerous challenges for families.  We remain hopeful that a resolution can be reached before Monday,” adds Radbourne.

Of note – Monday’s classes will not be live classes. Students will be taking part in virtual learning activities provided by the Ontario government. Live online learning with students’ teachers will begin by Tuesday.

Students in Grades 4 to 12 are expected to take their devices home with them at the end of the day today. Families of students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 who require a school-provided device or who need to make special arrangements are asked to watch for information directly from their child’s school.

The KPDSB adds if your family requires internet access, please let the child’s school know as soon as possible. Mental health support for students can be reached at mentalhealthsupports@kpdsb.ca at this time, or through FIREFLY at intake@fireflynw.ca.

Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees gave the government another 5-day notice to strike on November 16, leaving a second protest possible for. November 21.

The union says after resuming negotiations with the government, following Bill 28 getting repealed on Nov. 14, they were able to reach common ground on wages – but the government wouldn’t budge on CUPE’s demands for additional supports and staffing levels within schools.

CUPE has been calling for annual wage increases of nearly 12 per cent for all workers, with increases in overtime pay, additional education assistants and custodians, and increased staffing levels in libraries, offices and lunchrooms.

Earlier this month, Keewatin-Patricia schools remained open on November 4 and 7's strike action with support from non-union staff members.