Students at some 600 Ontario schools plan to protest the provincial government’s education changes by walking out of class on Thursday afternoon.
The demonstrations are scheduled for 1:15 p.m. ET, and students from both elementary and high schools say they intend to participate. The province-wide walkout was organized by students on social media, mainly Instagram, with the hashtag #StudentsSayNo.
A viral post by Natalie Moore, a Grade 12 student at Listowel District Secondary School in Listowel, Ont., started the movement, and it quickly snowballed as her friends around Ontario shared it in their own Instagram stories.
Moore says she was deeply troubled by the Progressive Conservative government’s decision to increase high school class sizes in the province.
“I emailed my MPP, and when I didn’t hear back from him I really wanted to do something,” Moore told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Thursday.
“I felt like students weren’t aware, or they wouldn’t do the research into the cuts. They might hear about them, but I didn’t know how much detail they would know.”
Amina Vance, a Grade 12 student at Western Technical-Commercial School In Toronto, helped Moore organize the protest. She said bigger class sizes —which school boards have warned could result in job losses for teachers and decreases to the kinds of courses offered at individual schools — will be devastating, particularly for students with special needs or other challenges.
“I think the government needs to see — and the government will see by 2 p.m. today — that the students are heartbroken and the students are angry. We are astounded they would do this to us, especially to marginalized students, who are already struggling in our school system,” she said on Metro Morning.
“We are showing them that students are informed, that students are angry and that students are ready to make a difference.”