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Teachers, parents and students getting ready for work-to-rule action

'This is an administrative work-to-rule, so teachers will continue to be in classes teaching, like they always are,' said local union official

Local parents can breathe a sigh of relief - at least for now - as officials say the latest strife between the province and its teachers will only impact administrative issues.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced Thursday that preparations for a work-to-rule campaign by its teachers, starting on Nov. 26, are now being made.

The federation’s website said that 98 percent of its membership voted for job action in response to Premier Doug Ford’s cuts to education and increased class sizes.

ETFO President Sam Hammond says he and the rest of the members want to keep kids in school.

“Premier Ford and his Education Minister, Stephen Lecce, are fond of saying that they want kids to be in school," said Hammond on the federation's website. “So do ETFO’s 83,000 members. But it appears that only teachers and education professionals, not the government, are concerned with the quality of public education that students receive."

The job action is being restricted to administrative sections only for the time being and Simcoe County Elementary Teacher’s Federation (SCETF) president Janet Bigham advised parents to check the website for the most up-to-date information.

“All the affected areas are on the ETFO website and parents should really check it out before getting too concerned with kids missing classes,” Bigham told BarrieToday. “This is an administrative work-to-rule, so teachers will continue to be in classes teaching, like they always are.”

There are approximately 85 elementary schools in the SCETF; those schools welcome thousands of students each day.

Things like field trips, sports and other extra-curricular items will be unaffected, but teachers are being asked by the union to not participate in any Ministry of Education online training or webinars, EQAO-related activities or other ministry needs.

Bigham also noted that the province's work-to-rule is separate from the local collective bargaining agreement and would not discuss what was needed to stay the course in those discussions.

“There are two-tiers here, the central bargaining agreement which is being discussed now and the local one which is up for discussion in December,” said Bigham. “The concerns for the local level I will not discuss as I will not bargain through the media. I have to still talk to the members before that begins. Right now, we are all focused on the current situation.”

This strike action will continue until the labour dispute is resolved or ETFO’s Provincial Executive deems that further actions are required.