Some mid-term reports are going to be handed out late this year and many Toronto high school students may have to wait weeks to get their grades because of job action teachers are poised to start Wednesday.
Teachers at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) are being directed by local union leaders not to input students’ marks into the school board’s central computer system, and to submit them instead to school administrators. This will leave small teams of office staff to input the marks themselves and at some Toronto high schools, where enrolment can reach 2,000 students, the task could take weeks.
Mid-reports were set to go home at some schools later this week, but students and parents are being warned there could be delays.
“We want to know what’s going on with our marks as soon as possible,” said Hirad Zafari, a Grade 12 student at Don Mills Collegiate and student trustee. “These report cards can in many ways dictate our future, the earlier we know the better we can react in the second half of the semester.”
These grades are especially important for Grade 12 students, who will be submitting their marks to universities at the end of the semester. Education Director Chris Spence said this is why the school board is suggesting to principals that they prioritize Grade 12 report cards and use funds available through school budgets to hire clerical staff to help out.
“We're concerned about it, but there’s an expectation that teachers will have the marks and that they’ll communicate with parents,” he said.
The TDSB also announced that high schools will be cancelling late-start school days, which are held at most schools about once a month in order to enable teachers to participate in professional development. Teachers will be stopping professional development as part of their job action, so the board decided the late starts were no longer necessary.
The TDSB is one of eight Ontario school boards where members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation will be in a legal strike position as of Wednesday. (The exact date depends on when they held their strike votes and meet a list of requirements set by Ontario labour laws.) The remaining 24 public school boards across the province are expected to reach a strike position in the coming weeks, and elementary teachers are expected to follow suit. York Region’s elementary teachers could be a in legal strike position by mid-November.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is directing members to not answer parent e-mails outside the school day, attend staff or department meetings, participate in professional development activities, conduct parent interviews outside the school day or participate in the administration of province-wide standardized tests.
Some teachers have been withholding voluntary services, things like coaching sports teams and supervising clubs, since the second week of school, when the Ontario government legislated the terms of their contract through Bill 115. Teachers have taken issue with the bill because it imposes cuts to their sick days, a partial freeze to pay raises for new teachers and restricts their ability to strike.