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NFSB prepares for strike action, resumes in-person classes

“We are trying to figure out what this may look like,” says New Frontiers School Board director general Rob Buttars. He is speaking of a teacher strike planned for April 14 during which teachers and support staff would walk out for part of the day.

“We’ve never seen this before,” Buttars says of the innovative move by teacher unions throughout the province, which involves 73,000 teachers walking off the job from 12:01 to 9:30 a.m. next Wednesday.

Concerning the actual school day on April 14, he says the board is weighing its options and will decide early this week whether to call a pedagogical day or an online learning day that would start at 9:30 a.m.

End of hybrid learning

The NFSB is fast-tracking its plan to progressively return all secondary 3, 4, and 5 students to full-time in-person classes, following an order issued by Education Minister last week insisting English school boards resume in-person learning at once.

Several school boards, including the NFSB, defied an earlier announcement by Premier François Legault that stated all students would be back in class by the following Monday, even in red zones.

Citing logistics and safety concerns, the NFSB had opted for a staggered return at Chateauguay Valley Regional and Howard S. Billings High Schools, gradually integrating students back into classrooms by April 12.

 

Teachers at Ormstown Elementary were among those who carried out visibility actions on March 31 – the next actions to be taken by teachers in the province will be on April 14. PHOTO Yvonne Lewis Langlois

 

Buttars says the new goal will see all students in class by the end of the week, provided the logistics can be worked out. “We have to put health and safety first,” he insists, while maintaining he is not comfortable with what feels like a rushed decision on the part of the government. As students have adapted to the hybrid learning system, Buttars feels it is imperative they are brought back gradually and supported along the way.

For Nick Ross, the President of the Chateauguay Valley Teachers Association, the insistence by the government places even more pressure on overloaded teachers and a strained system. “Many teachers are concerned with this new, out-of-nowhere directive and subsequent heavy-handed enforcement, considering how the provincial government has not done anything in the past year to reduce class sizes to account for Public Health measures.”

He is concerned that the toll taken by having to constantly respond to changing directives from the government is becoming unbearable for many secondary teachers, and teachers in general.

 

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