Parents who relied on either of the two school systems or Fort Frances Nursery School Inc. to look after their children during the day will suddenly find there's a grave shortage of day care in town if the teachers go on strike.
Fort Frances Nursery School, located in Robert Moore School, will close its doors the moment teachers go on strike, said Laurel Basaraba, one of the school's early childhood educators.
She said the nursery school is too integrated to work any other way.
“We use the same door as the teachers and the same keys," Basaraba said. "They'd have to open the whole school [to let us in].”
A committee is working on finding a new location for the nursery school but no suitable location had been found as of yesterday.
That means 55 youngsters will have to find somewhere else to go if their parents are at work.
“It's going to be really difficult,” agreed Phyllis Kellar, day care superintendent at the Fort Frances Children's Complex.
Kellar said there are very few openings in most of the programs there, with some—like private home day care and school-age day care—being full.
And even when there are openings, parents have to provide the child's medical information, fill out several forms and come in for an interview before the child is even accepted.
“They just can't come to day care,” Kellar said, noting the acceptance process takes several days.
But that's not stopping parents from trying to secure some sort of care for their children in the wake of a teachers' strike. Kellar said she's fielded a lot of phone calls from worried parents—parents the children's complex really can't help.
“They're going to be in a real dilemma," Kellar said. "There are some people who are lucky enough to have family to fall back on to give the children but there are some who are hurting if they have no family.”
The only consolation parents with young children may have, Kellar added, is the fact the strike also will affect secondary school students.
“A lot of them might be able to get high school kids like they do in the summer,” she explained.
Meanwhile, it also should be remembered that only five children can be legally cared for by a sitter at any one time.
If the number exceeds five, Kellar said they need a licence from the provincial government to operate as a day care.