The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario notified the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board Wednesday night, as well as some other boards across the province, about their intention to strike.
Secondary school teachers, secretaries, custodians and teaching assistants — about 60,000 workers across the province — are already in the midst of a work-to-rule campaign against the Ontario Liberal government.
Neither those workers nor elementary teachers have said they want to close schools. But Ottawa's public school trustees voted Tuesday to give the director of education the power to close schools if conditions become unsafe.
"Our objective is not to shut down schools, but we will exercise our right under the Ontario Labour Act," said Sam Hammond, president of the ETFO.
Hammond would not reveal any particular labour tactics but he assured parents children's safety would not be affected.
Retirees, parents asked to help supervise
Currently, many retired principals and vice-principals are being called in to help supervise school playgrounds, yards and to help with bus duty. Parent volunteers have also been requested by Ottawa's public schools.
An organization of Ottawa's school councils met Thursday night, which includes many parents.
Ellen Dickson said she worries parent volunteers could just prolong the labour strife.
"Safety is paramount. But if the strike is to put pressure on the administration, are we minimizing the effects of the strike?" asked the mother of three, with one child in elementary school, one in middle school and one in high school.
"Are we going to make it last longer?"
Ottawa police school resource officers were at South Carleton High School Wednesday after a food fight and multiple fires at the school.
Public board trustees have also approved a motion to ask Ontario's Minister of Education, Laurel Broten, to allow board representatives to participate when talks with the high school teachers' union resume.