Hundreds of students in Kawartha Lakes are expected to walk out of class at 1:15 pm Thursday to protest the PC government’s cuts to education.
While Trillium Lakelands District School Board’s position is they would “prefer students didn’t,” according to Catherine Shedden, district manager of corporate communications, they are “welcome to do so peacefully.”
Shedden says they know area schools are interested in expressing their disagreement with recent announcements from the provincial government on education matters.
“We have said that while we like to encourage students to look at alternatives, like writing a letter to their MPP,” the school will simply mark them absent if they decide to take part in the walk-out.
Shedden also notes that this walk-out was not allowed to be advertised “within the school, but it can be promoted in other ways.”
Of course, that leaves the obvious way students communicate anyway — through social media — which is exactly what they have done. In fact some students took charge and made a ‘linktree’ for Instagram – a way of virtually organizing the event across Ontario. In the link it’s possible to see the schools across Ontario that are involved, a guide for students, a guide for teachers, and even a petition to sign against the education cuts brought in by the government.
While Shedden says they have heard that some elementary students may also want to participate, these students are “not permitted to leave the school grounds….and an area of the playground will be made available for that purpose,” depending on the interest level of students.
In an email home to parents, Central Senior School Principal Sheila Shauf notes that they have heard from some of their students that “they are planning to participate in the provincial #studentssayno walk out on April 4 at 1:15 pm.”
Central Senior is a Grades 7 and 8 school.
Backing up what Shedden says, the email notes that “TLDSB has given permission for students to protest on school grounds.”
However, the principal goes on to say that “students who walk out during instructional time are marked absent and we follow the Safe Arrival procedure as per TLDSB policy. Currently, the students’ plan is to walk to our local MPP’s office in order to protest. Please call the school if your student is planning to be involved in the protest so we can record their absence and will not need to send a safe arrival call to parents.”
She also notes there will be no staff supervision of the walk-out and adds that students who return from the protest and sign back into the school can still take their regular bus home that day.
Premier Doug Ford’s recent proposed changes include increasing the number of students in high school classes to include between 28 to 42 students, resulting in thousands of lost jobs for teachers, and changes in the programs for kids with autism in schools that have not been well received.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation says the larger class sizes alone will directly affect some 5,500 teachers in publicly funded systems province-wide. Locally, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation is stating that 51 secondary school teaching positions could be lost within the Trillium Lakelands school board alone.