WINDSOR -- Parents are scrambling to line up child care as some schools in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent will be closed if a deal can’t be reached with education support workers.
Contract talks are taking place Friday between the province and members of CUPE, who are threatening to walk off the job Monday.
CUPE represents 55,000 full-time and occasional support staff, including educational assistants and early childhood educators.
Officials say they plan to talk through the weekend.
The possibility of a strike by members could leave tens of thousands of students who attend Catholic and French Catholic schools in Windsor-Essex with no classes to go to on Monday.
There are about 20,000 students in the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board and 10,200 in the Conseil scolaire catholique Providence. Both boards have about 1,265 employees represented by CUPE.
The Windsor-Essex public boards however say all of their schools will remain open. There are 37,000 students in the Greater Essex County District School Board and 500 students with the Conseil scolaire Viamonde. The boards have more than 500 employees who are represented by CUPE.
Some businesses and municipalities are stepping up to offer parents options for child care if the schools close.
Mad Science is ready to host camp programs at their home base in Cottam, one in Windsor and another in Leamington.
“We do have a contingency plan in place just in case there is full blown strike next week,” says Steven Spagnuolo, assistant manager of Mad Science.
City of Windsor officials say there are no day camps planned, but parents can call 211 for information on services in the community.
In Chatham-Kent, both the Catholic and public school board say schools will be closed Monday should a strike by CUPE members take place.
Approximately 21,890 students are enrolled in the Lambton-Kent District School Board.
There are 690 full time employees or 32 per cent of total board staff who are represented by CUPE. They include custodians, early childhood educators, educational assistants, secretaries, library and computer technicians and other school-based and central staff members.
A statement on the St. Clair District Catholic School Board's website says that all schools within the board will be closed for an "indefinite period of time" if there is a strike. That means nearly 8,900 students will be out of class.
CUPE represents more than 500 custodians, ECE’s, EA’s, library and computer technicians, and secretaries who are employed by the separate board.
Parents who with children enrolled in either are being told to find alternate child care arrangements if a strike happens.
They are also encouraged to check the board's websites for updates.