September 30, 2015

Important notice for parents/guardians of elementary students regarding status of job action

I am writing to provide you with an update on the status of schools, and school activities, as a result of job action by a number of our unions. As you know, our schools are experiencing significant impact by the withdrawal of services by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario provincially (elementary teachers), and locally by CUPE 2544 (custodial) and CUPE 1628 (secretarial). As of today, ETFO is in phase 3 of work-to-rule, and both CUPE groups are in phase two. At this point, business as usual is no longer an option.

Our principals and vice-principals have done and will continue to do their very best to maintain school activities—and I thank them for their work. But I now have directed schools to focus on only three key areas:

  • keeping schools open
  • making sure students and staff are safe
  • ensuring student learning continues

To achieve this, many things you normally expect as part of the school experience will be cancelled or postponed. For example, our secretaries will no longer handle money, so many activities cannot continue, and our custodians will not sweep hallways, so the school will not appear the way is usually does.

At your school, you should expect the following to be cancelled or postponed, effective immediately:

  • field trips
  • food days/breakfast programs where money still needs to be collected by the school
  • open houses and other school events such as fall fairs 
    school council activities, including elections and meetings
  • printed school newsletters
  • recycling and compost programs
There may be some exceptional situations—like food days where money has already been collected for the term—but otherwise, expect to hear of postponement or cancellations from your child's school. We are also trying our very best to maintain as many extracurricular sports as possible. These exceptions, however, will be rare.

Principals and vice-principals have been directed to cancel or postpone all but the core work of the school—they do not have the choice to keep some running.  We understand your disappointment—and we share it. However, I am sure you see the importance of our focus on keeping schools open, safe, and students learning. 
We will continue to monitor the job action's impact on elementary students and we remain committed to keeping you informed:

Thank you for your patience, support and understanding.

Tony Pontes
Director of Education
Peel District School Board 

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