Students at some 400 Ontario schools plan to protest against the provincial government’s education changes by walking out of class on Thursday afternoon.
The demonstrations are scheduled for 1:15 p.m. and students from both elementary and high schools say they intend to participate. The province-wide walkout was organized by students on social media.
Individual schools and boards in the Toronto area sent letters home to parents saying that administrators are aware of the planned walkout and that they will work to ensure student safety, while noting that the protests are not school-sanctioned events.
"As a school board, we encourage students to be well-informed about issues in our society, to think critically, and to express themselves respectfully and responsibly in articulating views they may have," wrote the Toronto District School Board, the largest in the province.
Meanwhile, Clarkson Secondary School in Mississauga said it will "respect and support the right of students to advocate for causes that are important to them," but asked parents to encourage their children to remain on school property during the walkout.
"If your teen is planning to participate in the walkout, please talk with them about why they want to participate. Share your perspective on the issue and how you would like to see things resolved. If your teen chooses to walk out, please ask them to make safe choices and to be respectful in their participation," the school wrote in a message posted to its website.
The protest action comes weeks after Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government announced considerable and controversial education reforms . The changes include increased class sizes for intermediate and secondary grades, as well as new math and sex-ed cirricula.
The average class size requirement for Grades 9 to 12 will be adjusted to 28, up from the current average of 22, while the average class size for intermediate Grades 4 to 8 will increase to 24.5, up slightly from 23.84.
The decision to increase some class sizes has drawn sharp criticism from some educators. School boards have warned it could lead to significant job losses for teachers. The TDSB, for example, has said some 800 teachers could end up losing their jobs.
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