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Ontario teacher protest: ETFO extracurricular ban to be reviewed

The elementary teachersunion plans to reconsider its “pause” on extracurricular activities before March 1.

Whether or not the move will actually mean a return of extracurricular activities remains to be seen.

However, teachers are coming under increasing pressure to resume after-school clubs and sports, which students have, for the most part, gone without this school year.

On Wednesday, high school students plan a day in support of extracurriculars, asking that teens wear athletic jerseys or other school wear as a show of support, said organizer Dennis Xu.

“We’re getting them to wear jerseys for athletics, or formal wear for other conferences or debate (teams), and people in the arts can wear costumes and things like that,” said the Grade 12 Oakville student.

He said almost 40 schools across the province are taking part.

“The point is to support the reinstatement of co-curricular activities” but not take sides, he added.

Without sports and clubs, school is “a pretty sad scene,” he said. “If you look at my school — and I’m sure it’s the same for many schools across Ontario — prior, kids used to be here until 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock participating in cheerleading or sports practices. Now the halls are pretty much abandoned after 3.

“It’s been a truly devastating experience for us, especially as we consider these activities essential to our education.”

However, since the Ontario government imposed contracts on teachers under Bill 115, there is little else teachers can do to protest, the president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association has said.

Teachers also received some advice from well-known labour leader Buzz Hargrove, who said if they continue their boycott of clubs and sports, they’ll lose public support.

“It’s very difficult to accomplish anything if you don’t have public support, Hargrove, former president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union, told the Star’s Laura Kane.

Meanwhile, Toronto elementary and secondary teachers planned a dinnertime rally near government education offices on Bay St., south of Wellesley Ave.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled last week that daytime protests on school days are illegal strikes, so protests are now being scheduled after hours. The city’s public elementary teachers also wore black to school on Tuesday. – News

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