Christmas carols banned in Catholic school strike

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Ottawa’s arts and culture representative and organizer will discuss the teacher strike at a press conference. The Catholic union representing Catholic elementary school teachers in Toronto says it has…

Christmas carols banned in Catholic school strike

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Ottawa’s arts and culture representative and organizer will discuss the teacher strike at a press conference.

The Catholic union representing Catholic elementary school teachers in Toronto says it has banned its members from participating in festivities such as Christmas carols, door decorating or gingerbread houses.

Instead, union members are being told to “participate in union business” and remain “out of reach” of the public, Catholic School Teachers’ Association of Ontario President Mike Morrice said.

The move comes after a tentative agreement was reached last week between the union and the School Board of Toronto.

He said the restrictions were necessary because of a “crucial need” for a fair strike ratification vote.

“It’s critical that our teachers stay out of reach of the media,” Mr Morrice said.

The STOA has said striking teachers will return to work on Tuesday, but the board has set up a website for parents to learn if their child is affected by the strike, Bloomberg reports.

School officials said at least 200,000 students are affected by the strike, with many classes resuming on Wednesday.

Are there other lessons?

Catholic elementary teachers are among about 100,000 public school teachers and education support staff in Ontario who are in a province-wide strike after protracted negotiations.

On Saturday, a coalition of unions called for a special legislative session on the teacher strikes, calling it a critical moment to end years of government attacks on teachers’ rights.

In its mandate letter for negotiations, the province said school schedules would be “flexible” and included “school days open for those who would like to participate in activities such as Christmas carols or holiday door decorating”.

In mid-December, the strike brought down the curtain on many Christmas carols to children’s and community centres, and shoppers dealt with longer lines as retail merchants kept staff at home.

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