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Westwood students also voice concerns

High school students weren’t the only ones out of their classrooms this week voicing their displeasure with the struggle between public teachers’ unions and the provincial government.
About 40 students in Grades 7 and 8 at Westwood school held a protest Monday on the grounds of the school that lasted about 70 minutes, said Maggie McFadzen, communications officer for the Upper Grand District School Board.
As part of a protest against Bill 115, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has told elementary teachers in the province’s public elementary schools to engage in work-to-rule strike action, including stopping all involvement in extracurricular activities and class excursions. In response, the Upper Grand school board has cancelled all field trips and other off-site excursions for its elementary schools until further notice.
McFadzen hadn’t heard of any other student protests this week at Guelph’s elementary schools, she said in an interview late Tuesday afternoon.
When it comes to protests in elementary schools related to the struggle over Bill 115, she said, intermediate students are being treated differently than younger students.
For students in Grades 7 and 8, “we don’t want to stand on their toes and tell them they cannot do this sort of thing,” she said.
However, they must follow school rules that forbid elementary students – unlike high school students – from leaving their school property without the permission of their parents, she said. And when they are outside of their school building, they must be supervised.
“They were a very well-behaved group of kids,” she said of the intermediate students who protested Monday at Westwood, a JK-8 school on Willow Road that has about 445 students.
The board has told teachers not to encourage protests by their students related to Bill 115, McFadzen said.
“This is a labour relations issue, and it’s not allowed in the classroom,” she said.
The Westwood students are not the only elementary students in Guelph who have protested since their teachers started the work-to-rule action on Dec. 3.
Some Willow Road students held a “silent protest” earlier this month, and some students in other schools have protested by wearing all-black clothing to school, McFadzen said.

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