Ontario students from over 800 schools will be walking out of their classrooms on Thursday in protest of the Ford government's education cuts and changes. The Ontario-wide student walkout on April 4th is a direct reaction to Education Minister Lisa Thompson’s changes to the ministry, which includes an overhaul of the physical education and health curriculum, an increase in high school class sizes and a ban on cellphones in the classroom.
Although the wide-scale protests may serve to benefit the schools, who have raised concerns in the past about Thompson’s changes, the walkout has no official affiliation with the school boards, a point which was made clear by those working for the board in the GTA.
Toronto’s District School Board sent a letter out to the parents of the students informing them of the possible walkout; clarifying that they are not involved with protest but will supervise them to ensure their children are safe.
"To be clear, this is not a TDSB-sanctioned event nor are we encouraging students to take part, however, we wanted you to be aware of what is being planned. For those students who do not participate, some of our teachers will remain in classes to provide supervision and instruction/remediation where possible,” the letter stated according to Global News.
“School administration and other staff will be present to ensure that students are safe throughout the demonstration. We have also contacted Toronto police so that they are aware,” the letter continues.
Participating schools are rallying under the slogan Students Say No with hundreds of them taking to Instagram to create accounts for the movement which featured the school’s name along with the slogan. There are 806 Ontario schools registered to participate in today's Students Say No walkout, according to their registry document.
According to the walkout’s official organizer guide, the protest will begin a 1:15 PM today. “On April 4th, 2019 at 1:15 pm, we walk out and come together as students of this province to make it known that we oppose the changes Doug Ford’s Ontario government is making to our education,” reads a statement in the guide.
Although the walkouts aren't scheduled to take place until the afternoon, a few eager students have already been spotted protesting:
“The announced policy changes and financial cuts will be extremely detrimental to students on both a long-term and widespread scale. In addition to its financial impact, the changes will hurt students in a non-monetary and social capacity,” reads another detailed outline featured in the guide.
The "Students Say No" walkout comes just two weeks after students at colleges and universities across Ontario participated in a similar protest, walking out of their classrooms on March 20th in protest of the Ford government’s recent changes to OSAP.