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‘CMA Country Christmas’: For King & Country’s ‘Little Drummer Boy’ Is Wowing Viewers – PopCulture.com

December 3rd, 2019

For King & Country’s performance on 2019’s CMA Country Christmas left fans in awe. The ABC holiday special returned with unforgettable performances this year but the Australian Christian pop duo stole the show with their cover of “The Little Drummer Boy.” Formerly known as Joel & Luke, the Nashville-based band consists of brothers Joel and Like Smallbone.

The Trisha Yearwood-hosted event saw as For King & Country performed a heartfilled cover of the beloved holiday song on a stage filled with drums.

Viewers took to Twitter to praise the band for their performance, as well as sharing their love for the Christmas song.

“I just watched CMA country Christmas and watched the best Pahrump a bump bump I’ve ever seen done by king and country omg# cmacountrychristmas,” one viewer wrote.

“@4kingandcountry What a performance! If you’re not watching the CMA Country Christmas special, you should be!” another user praised.

“Yes! Outstanding performance of Little Drummer Boy by @4kingandcountry on the CMA Country Christmas!” Another viewer praised, adding a Christmas tree emoji and a drums emoji.

“The @4kingandcountry at the CMA Country Christmas Preformance(sic) is WOW!” Another fan wrote.

“For King And Country just rocked ‘Little Drummer Boy’ on CMA Country Christmas special! Loved it!” Another fan commented.

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Yearwood hosted the holiday special for the first time this year after taking over the position from Reba McEntire. Aside from For King & Country, the show featured performances from Lady Antebellum, Kristin Chenoweth, Chris Young, Runaway June, Rascal Flatts and other beloved country acts.

“I’ve never done anything quite like this,” Yearwood told PopCulture.com and other media ahead of the premiere. “And I had done the show before. Performing and coming out and doing a song or two songs is one thing. But hosting, the biggest thing is Reba; quick change is Reba’s second nature. She could probably do it in her sleep.

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“I’ve never done this before, so I’m in there looking at four outfits and I’m trying to think how do I get this done,” she continued. “And I want it to be good. I want it to be fun for everybody, so I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’ve been really nervous. I didn’t sleep last night. I just want it to be good.”

The show will be available on demand, as well as to stream on ABC.com and the ABC app Wednesday.

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The Who announces Cincinnati show, 40 years after tragedy killed 11 – WLWT Cincinnati

December 3rd, 2019

Legendary rock band The Who announced Tuesday that they will return to the Cincinnati area for a concert 40 years after a stampede killed 11 people during a show at Riverfront Coliseum.Frontman Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend, the last survivors of the original band, will play a show at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky on April 23, The Who wrote on its website late Tuesday.The announcement was made on the 40th anniversary of a tragedy in Cincinnati.On Dec. 3, 1979, an eagerly awaited concert by the British rock band was transformed by tragedy, as 11 people were killed in a mad scramble by thousands of fans trying to get into the Cincinnati coliseum.Most of the blame afterward focused on the first-come, first-served arrangement for seating that saw thousands of fans line up for hours, ready to charge toward the coveted floor spots, and on confusion over and lack of preparation for when the doors were opening. Besides those trampled in the stampede, some two dozen other fans were injured.The city of Finneytown suffered disproportionately. Three victims — Jackie Eckerle, Karen Morrison and Stephan Preston — were from the small Cincinnati suburb.Proceeds from the show will benefit the P.E.M. Scholarship Fund — a fund created in the memory of the three Finneytown natives killed, using their last-name initials.Launched in 2010, the scholarships reward three Finneytown students with $5,000 each for the study of music or any other arts. There have been 27 awarded so far.Auctions and raffles at an annual December show featuring music by alumni at the school’s performing arts center help pay for the scholarships. The Who became involved in the third year, making an exclusive DVD for showing at that year’s benefit with comments from the band about the tragedy and new concert footage.The Who has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with such hits as “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Can’t Explain,” and “My Generation,” an anthem of rebellious youth.The Who Fan Club pre-sale tickets will go on sale on Wednesday at 10 a.m. and will be available until Thursday at 10 a.m.Tickets will go on sale to the public on Friday at 10 a.m.To learn more or purchase tickets, click here.

Legendary rock band The Who announced Tuesday that they will return to the Cincinnati area for a concert 40 years after a stampede killed 11 people during a show at Riverfront Coliseum.

Frontman Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend, the last survivors of the original band, will play a show at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky on April 23, The Who wrote on its website late Tuesday.

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The announcement was made on the 40th anniversary of a tragedy in Cincinnati.

On Dec. 3, 1979, an eagerly awaited concert by the British rock band was transformed by tragedy, as 11 people were killed in a mad scramble by thousands of fans trying to get into the Cincinnati coliseum.

Most of the blame afterward focused on the first-come, first-served arrangement for seating that saw thousands of fans line up for hours, ready to charge toward the coveted floor spots, and on confusion over and lack of preparation for when the doors were opening. Besides those trampled in the stampede, some two dozen other fans were injured.

The city of Finneytown suffered disproportionately. Three victims — Jackie Eckerle, Karen Morrison and Stephan Preston — were from the small Cincinnati suburb.

Proceeds from the show will benefit the P.E.M. Scholarship Fund — a fund created in the memory of the three Finneytown natives killed, using their last-name initials.

Launched in 2010, the scholarships reward three Finneytown students with $5,000 each for the study of music or any other arts. There have been 27 awarded so far.

Auctions and raffles at an annual December show featuring music by alumni at the school’s performing arts center help pay for the scholarships. The Who became involved in the third year, making an exclusive DVD for showing at that year’s benefit with comments from the band about the tragedy and new concert footage.

The Who has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with such hits as “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Can’t Explain,” and “My Generation,” an anthem of rebellious youth.

The Who Fan Club pre-sale tickets will go on sale on Wednesday at 10 a.m. and will be available until Thursday at 10 a.m.

Tickets will go on sale to the public on Friday at 10 a.m.

To learn more or purchase tickets, click here.

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The Nintendo Switch is launching in China next week – The Verge

December 3rd, 2019

Cleveland Metro Cleveland Health Department loses funding for HIV/AIDS Amanda VanAllen 10:47 PM, Dec – News 5 Cleveland

December 3rd, 2019

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Health Department received bad news last week, the city is losing funding from the state for HIV and AIDS.

“It’s a travesty it’s just a travesty,” said Natoya Walker, Cleveland’s Chief of Public Affairs. “Our community will not be served now because we will not have these dollars.”

In January 2020, Cleveland, who has more than 3,000 people living with AIDS, will lose $1.5 million in AIDS and HIV funding that the community has come to rely on.

“They notified us last week that based on a scoring rubric that it did not pass the threshold,” said Cleveland Department of Public Health Director Merle Gordon.

This news comes just as dozens of people are gathered at Metro Health to visit the AIDS memorial quilt, which is a moving art exhibit where people pay tribute to the folks who lost their lives to the disease.

“I miss his presence, but he’s always with me,” said William Craft.

Craft lost his partner of 15 years, Patrick Broussard, to AIDS nearly six years ago.

“It reinforces the loss being right here in front obviously,” said Craft.

Metro Health houses pieces of the AIDS quilt ever other year to remember those we’ve lost and to fight to finally end the epidemic.

The hospital was also a recipient of some of the city’s HIV funds that are no more.

“I’m hopeful that the funds will still come to the region so we’ll be able to continue doing the work that they have been doing,” said Dr. Ann Avery, the director of Metro Health’s division of infectious diseases.

If that’s not the case, Metro Health is still dedicated to still helping their 1,700 patients living with AIDS and HIV.

“We’re fortunate that at least we will continue to provide those services regardless of funding by shutting things around and using internal sources as we need to,” said Dr. Avery.

The state says Cleveland scored well below what’s required to keep their funding and they didn’t fix their “performance deficiencies.”

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Ontario public high school teachers to hold one-day strike on Wednesday – CTV News

December 3rd, 2019

TORONTO — Hundreds of thousands of public high school students will be out of classrooms in Ontario on Wednesday as their teachers take part in a one-day strike amid months of fruitless negotiations between the union and the province.

The one-day strike comes after the two sides failed to make any headway by a midnight deadline, though the union said earlier that a deal was unlikely.

“In the absence of any other announcement, in the absence of any update, prepare for a strike tomorrow,” Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation President Harvey Bischof told reporters at around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

Speaking from the downtown Toronto hotel where negotiations have been taking place between the province and the union, Bischof said the government has not put forward any meaningful proposals that would avert a strike and that the “odds are slim” that they would do so before the midnight deadline.

MORE: What you need to know about the one-day Ontario teacher strike

His announcement came moments after a hastily-called media availability by Education Minister Stephen Lecce at the same hotel. Speaking to reporters, Lecce blamed the union for a lack of any meaningful progress in negotiations and called on the OSSTF to cancel their planned strike.

“It has been over 200 days since we first started bargaining with OSSTF and in that time they have not made any substantive moves since their first proposal was tabled,” Lecce said.

Responding, Bischoff told CP24 that teachers are feeling “extremely let down.”

“We came here with hope on Saturday morning that we could move forward,” Bischof said. “In four days the government made not a single proposal of any sort whatsoever in order to move negotiations forward and now a couple of hours before a strike deadline the minister once again gets to a podium not to advance the interests of negotiations, not to advance the interests of Ontario’s students, but to pull essentially another stunt.”

Earlier in the day, Lecce said that he had presented the teachers with a new “framework” for negotiations,

We have today through our mediators offered a new framework that we believe in our estimation will keep them at the table,” Lecce said.

However the OSSTF said there had been no communication from the province since yesterday afternoon.

“This process is nothing but frustrating. In 20 years doing this kind of work, I’ve never seen anything like it,” OSSTF President Harvey Bischof said.

Bischof said that the province has brought “nothing” to the table in negotiations.

Lecce and Bischof

Wages, class sizes and proposed mandatory e-learning classes are some of the issues that have been sticking points in the negotiations.

The government had previously announced plans to increase the average high school class size to 28 from 22. The province has since said that they would agree to a less drastic increase of 25 students per class.

The government has recently passed legislation to cap wage increases for all public-sector workers, however high school teachers are looking for increases to account for inflation – around two per cent.

Parents and community members held a rally outside of the hotel to support the teachers Tuesday evening.

Prior to the announcement of the planned one-day strike, teachers were already engaged in a work-to-rule campaign which entailed not putting comments on report cards, not participating in standardized testing, and not taking part in unpaid staff meetings outside school hours.

Lecce has blamed the union for “escalating” tensions between the two sides.

The province’s public high school teachers have been without a contract since August.

Strike would mean schools across the GTA would be closed Wednesday

A number of school boards have said that if the one-day strike proceeds, then schools will be closed to students on Wednesday.

“Should there be a walkout on December 4, the TDSB would have no other option but to close all secondary schools to students as there would not be sufficient supervision to ensure their safety,” the Toronto District School Board said in a tweet. “This would include all TDSB secondary schools, Adult Day Schools and Secondary Night Schools.”

The TDSB said any field trips or other out-of-school activities would also be cancelled and urged parents and caregivers to make alternate arrangements for their kids.

School boards in York, Peel and Durham regions have also said that secondary schools will be closed to students should there be a strike.

In some parts of the province where the OSSTF also represents educational support workers, the strike would mean that elementary schools are also closed. Those areas include the Waterloo Region District School Board and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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Remembering the 11 killed in The Who concert stampede 40 years ago – WLWT Cincinnati

December 3rd, 2019

WERE THERE WHEN IT HAPPENED. >> TIME PASSES. >> COULDN’T BREATHE, STARTED PANICKING. STEVEN: BUT THE WOUNDS OF DECEMBER 3 1979, FEEL FRESH, AS VICTIMS AND RELATIVES REMEMBER THAT TRAGIC NIGHT. >> AS THE CROWD STARTED GETTING TIGHTER AND TIGHTER, IT CAME DOWN TO WHERE WE WERE GETTING LIFTED OFF THE GROUND. STEVEN: MICHAEL LADD WAS WITH HIS WIFE. HE SAYS IT WAS THE PERFECT STORM OF EVENTS, WHEN THEY WERE BOTH PUSHED DOWN AND SEPARATED. >> I DID NOT SEE HER UNTIL I GOT OFF THE GROUND AND SEPARATED. THEY WERE CARRYING KIDS ON STRETCHERS. I WATCHED THEM WORK ON HER. THEY COULDN’T REVIVE HER. STEVEN: BACK STAGE, BRENDA LOU GREEN VEGA SAYS THE BAND WAS LIED TO ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED, CLAIMING DRUG OVERDOSES, BUT WHAT HEY SAW — >> IT WAS HORRIFYING FOR ME TO SEE LOVED ONE’S BODIES BEFORE THEY EVEN KNEW THEY WERE GOING. — WERE GONE. STEVEN: SHE WON’T FORGET, DESCRIBING THE MOMENT SHE LEFT THE ARENA WITH THE WHO. >> AS SOON AS WE LEFT THE PREMISES, THEY BEGAN TO WEEP. WE ALL CRIED. WE HELD HANDS. STEVEN: A CANDLE LIT, AND A ROSE PLACED FOR THOSE WHO DIED THAT NIGHT. ALTHOUGH BROUGHT TOGETHER BY GRIEF, HEALING TOGETHER HOPEFULLY HELPS THE TIME PASS A LITTLE BIT EASIER. >> I

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Remembering the 11 killed in The Who concert stampede 40 years ago

Remembering the 11 concert-goers killed in The Who concert stampede 40 years ago

Eleven lanterns were lit Tuesday night outside Cincinnati’s Heritage Bank Center, remembering the 11 lives lost inside 40 years ago. Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of The Who concert tragedy in Cincinnati. On Dec. 3, 1979, an eagerly awaited concert by the British rock band was transformed by tragedy, as 11 people were killed in a mad scramble by thousands of fans trying to get into the Riverfront Coliseum (the former name for Heritage Bank Center).Most of the blame afterward focused on the first-come, first-served arrangement for seating that saw thousands of fans line up for hours, ready to charge toward the coveted floor spots, and on confusion over and lack of preparation for when the doors were opening. Eleven lanterns will remember those killed, including: Walter Adams, Jr., 22; Peter Bowes, 18; Connie Sue Burns, 21; Jacqueline Eckerle, 15; David Heck, 19; Teva Rae Ladd, 27; Karen Morrison, 15; Stephan Preston, 19; Philip Snyder, 20; Bryan Wagner, 17; and James Warmoth, 21.Besides those trampled in the stampede, some two dozen other fans were injured.Ray Schwertman, a 49-year-old usher, told the Associated Press in 1979 that the crowed surged through the door to the 17,000-seat Riverfront Coliseum just before the gates were to open at 7 p.m.”First, they threw a bottle through a window in the door. Then they pushed through the hole, making it bigger. Three or four of us tried to hold them back, but it was no use …”We couldn’t hold them back … They carried in one boy and laid him on a table and he died. Others were laying out on the plaza,” Schwertman said.The concert, which was sold out, went on as scheduled after the victims were taken away. Many concertgoers were apparently unaware of the deaths and injuries, and they were not mentioned from the stage.Frontman Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend, the last survivors of the original band, say they have struggled emotionally over the years with the concert carnage, which they didn’t know about until their show was ending.”Because there’s always a certain amount, ‘If I hadn’t been doing this, it wouldn’t have happened,’ you know?” Daltrey said during an unpublicized visit last year to the Finneytown memorial site. “That’s just human nature. That’s what we carry with us.””It took a long time for us to get a sense that this was not just about the 11 kids, it was about the community,” Townshend told The Associated Press in a recent interview in New York.

Eleven lanterns were lit Tuesday night outside Cincinnati’s Heritage Bank Center, remembering the 11 lives lost inside 40 years ago.

Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of The Who concert tragedy in Cincinnati.

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On Dec. 3, 1979, an eagerly awaited concert by the British rock band was transformed by tragedy, as 11 people were killed in a mad scramble by thousands of fans trying to get into the Riverfront Coliseum (the former name for Heritage Bank Center).

Most of the blame afterward focused on the first-come, first-served arrangement for seating that saw thousands of fans line up for hours, ready to charge toward the coveted floor spots, and on confusion over and lack of preparation for when the doors were opening.

Eleven lanterns will remember those killed, including: Walter Adams, Jr., 22; Peter Bowes, 18; Connie Sue Burns, 21; Jacqueline Eckerle, 15; David Heck, 19; Teva Rae Ladd, 27; Karen Morrison, 15; Stephan Preston, 19; Philip Snyder, 20; Bryan Wagner, 17; and James Warmoth, 21.

Besides those trampled in the stampede, some two dozen other fans were injured.

Ray Schwertman, a 49-year-old usher, told the Associated Press in 1979 that the crowed surged through the door to the 17,000-seat Riverfront Coliseum just before the gates were to open at 7 p.m.

“First, they threw a bottle through a window in the door. Then they pushed through the hole, making it bigger. Three or four of us tried to hold them back, but it was no use …

“We couldn’t hold them back … They carried in one boy and laid him on a table and he died. Others were laying out on the plaza,” Schwertman said.

The concert, which was sold out, went on as scheduled after the victims were taken away. Many concertgoers were apparently unaware of the deaths and injuries, and they were not mentioned from the stage.

Frontman Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend, the last survivors of the original band, say they have struggled emotionally over the years with the concert carnage, which they didn’t know about until their show was ending.

“Because there’s always a certain amount, ‘If I hadn’t been doing this, it wouldn’t have happened,’ you know?” Daltrey said during an unpublicized visit last year to the Finneytown memorial site. “That’s just human nature. That’s what we carry with us.”

“It took a long time for us to get a sense that this was not just about the 11 kids, it was about the community,” Townshend told The Associated Press in a recent interview in New York.

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Americans weigh more this decade, but fewer adults want to lose weight – KSL.com

December 3rd, 2019

NEW YORK (CNN) — Americans weigh more this decade than they did last decade, but fewer adults say they want to lose weight.

28% of Americans said they weighed 200 pounds or more between 2010 and 2019 — a four-point jump from a 2001 to 2009, according to a new Gallup poll. Still, fewer Americans now consider themselves overweight or obese.

That might reflect changing attitudes toward weight, but the pollsters said it doesn’t bode well for health. Local and state programs to address obesity haven’t been enough to stall its spread across the United States, despite the increased risk of deadly diseases that accompany excessive weight gain.

Participants self-reported their weight and their desire (or lack thereof) to lose it. Fewer U.S. adults want to lose weight compared to last decade: 54%. Almost 40% of men and women are content with their current weight.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 60% of women said they still want to lose weight, even though men are more likely to weigh 200 pounds or more — 42% of male respondents compared to just 14% of women.

The average American’s self-reported weight has jumped up 4 pounds to 178 pounds. In the previous decade, more than half of adults surveyed weighed within or beneath that range.

Obesity is typically defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher, while an overweight BMI starts around 25.

200 pounds isn’t an unhealthy weight for people 6 feet 4 inches or taller, but for the majority of Americans who are shorter, that weight can be considered overweight or even obese, based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s adult BMI calculator.

The Gallup results are self-reported, so respondents may not know their exact weight or where it falls in the BMI range.

But more in-depth studies show similar results. A 2018 report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found that the average weight of men and women are climbing, even though their average heights have stagnated.

The average American BMI calculated in that study sat somewhere around 30.

Obesity is considered a national epidemic. More than 70% of American adults are overweight or obese, a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found.

Excessive weight gain is tied to poorer mental health and several leading causes of death in the U.S., including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, the CDC says.

The side effects of obesity may be tied to continually lower life expectancy in the U.S. A JAMA study published this week found that midlife mortality rates increased more than 114% in obese people.

The causes of obesity complicate its treatment. The CDC says some people may be genetically predisposed to have increased hunger, which makes them more likely to be obese, or learn behaviors that impact the way they eat and view food throughout their lives.

Culture can be a culprit, too. Cheap, highly processed foods are readily available in the U.S., where urban areas are designed around drivers rather than pedestrians or bicyclists, World Health Organization researcher Temo Waqanivalu told CNN in 2017.

As such, obesity treatment is broad and varied, too. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends eating more healthy foods with fewer calories rather than sacrificing food completely. If obesity is not extensive enough to require prescribed medication or surgery, weight management programs can help facilitate difficult lifestyle changes.

The Gallup poll points out that the increase occurred concurrently with a new batch of fad diets, which promise quick results — often at the cost of eliminating important nutrients. Because many of them have cropped up recently, the long-term effects of these diets in keeping weight off has not yet been thoroughly studied.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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Firefox gets picture-in-picture video playback on Windows – Engadget

December 3rd, 2019

‘Prepare for a strike tomorrow,’ Ontario teachers’ union says hours before bargaining deadline – CTV News

December 3rd, 2019

TORONTO — The union representing Ontario’s high school teachers says parents and caregivers should be prepared for a one-day strike on Wednesday.

“In the absence of any other announcement, in the absence of any update, prepare for a strike tomorrow,” Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation President Harvey Bischof told reporters Tuesday night.

Speaking from the downtown Toronto hotel where negotiations have been taking place between the province and the union, Bischof said the government has not put forward any meaningful proposals that would avert a strike and that the “odds are slim” that they would do so before the midnight deadline.

MORE: What you need to know about the one-day Ontario teacher strike

His announcement came moments after a hastily-called media availability by Education Minister Stephen Lecce at the same hotel. Speaking to reporters, Lecce blamed the union for a lack of any meaningful progress in negotiations and called on the OSSTF to cancel their planned strike.

“It has been over 200 days since we first started bargaining with OSSTF and in that time they have not made any substantive moves since their first proposal was tabled,” Lecce said.

Earlier in the day, Lecce said that he had presented the teachers with a new “framework” for negotiations,

“We have today through our mediators offered a new framework that we believe in our estimation will keep them at the table,” Lecce said.

However the OSSTF said there had been no communication from the province since yesterday afternoon.

“This process is nothing but frustrating. In 20 years doing this kind of work, I’ve never seen anything like it,” OSSTF President Harvey Bischof said.

Bischof said that the province has brought “nothing” to the table in negotiations.

Wages, class sizes and proposed mandatory e-learning classes are some of the issues that have been sticking points in the negotiations.

The government had previously announced plans to increase the average high school class size to 28 from 22. The province has since said that they would agree to a less drastic increase of 25 students per class.

The government has recently passed legislation to cap wage increases for all public-sector workers, however high school teachers are looking for increases to account for inflation – around two per cent.

Parents and community members held a rally outside of the hotel to support the teachers Tuesday evening.

Prior to the announcement of the planned one-day strike, teachers were already engaged in a work-to-rule campaign which entailed not putting comments on report cards, not participating in standardized testing, and not taking part in unpaid staff meetings outside school hours.

Lecce has blamed the union for “escalating” tensions between the two sides.

Lecce and Bischof

The province’s public high school teachers have been without a contract since August.

Bischof is expected to hold a news conference at the hotel at midnight to provide an update on the negotiations.

Strike would mean schools across the GTA would be closed Wednesday

A number of school boards have said that if the one-day strike proceeds, then schools will be closed to students on Wednesday.

“Should there be a walkout on December 4, the TDSB would have no other option but to close all secondary schools to students as there would not be sufficient supervision to ensure their safety,” the Toronto District School Board said in a tweet. “This would include all TDSB secondary schools, Adult Day Schools and Secondary Night Schools.”

The TDSB said any field trips or other out-of-school activities would also be cancelled and urged parents and caregivers to make alternate arrangements for their kids.

School boards in York, Peel and Durham regions have also said that secondary schools will be closed to students should there be a strike.

In some parts of the province where the OSSTF also represents educational support workers, the strike would mean that elementary schools are also closed. Those areas include the Waterloo Region District School Board and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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Ontario public high school teachers holding one-day strike after negotiations fall apart – CTV News

December 3rd, 2019

TORONTO — Hundreds of thousands of public high school students will be out of classrooms in Ontario on Wednesday as their teachers take part in a one-day strike amid months of fruitless negotiations between the union and the province.

The one-day strike comes after the two sides failed to make any headway by a midnight deadline, though the union said earlier that a deal was unlikely.

Speaking from the downtown Toronto hotel where negotiations have been taking place between the province and the union, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation President Harvey Bischof said the government has not put forward any meaningful proposals that would avert a strike.

MORE: What you need to know about the one-day Ontario teacher strike

His announcement came moments after a hastily-called media availability by Education Minister Stephen Lecce at the same hotel. Speaking to reporters, Lecce blamed the union for a lack of any meaningful progress in negotiations and called on the OSSTF to cancel their planned strike.

“It has been over 200 days since we first started bargaining with OSSTF and in that time they have not made any substantive moves since their first proposal was tabled,” Lecce said.

Responding, Bischoff said that teachers are feeling “extremely let down.”

“We came here with hope on Saturday morning that we could move forward,” Bischof said. “In four days the government made not a single proposal of any sort whatsoever in order to move negotiations forward and now a couple of hours before a strike deadline the minister once again gets to a podium not to advance the interests of negotiations, not to advance the interests of Ontario’s students, but to pull essentially another stunt.”

Earlier in the day, Lecce said that he had presented the teachers with a new “framework” for negotiations,

“We have today through our mediators offered a new framework that we believe in our estimation will keep them at the table,” Lecce said.

However the OSSTF said there had been no communication from the province since yesterday afternoon.

“This process is nothing but frustrating. In 20 years doing this kind of work, I’ve never seen anything like it,” OSSTF President Harvey Bischof said.

Bischof said that the province has brought “nothing” to the table in negotiations.

Lecce and Bischof

Wages, class sizes and proposed mandatory e-learning classes are some of the issues that have been sticking points in the negotiations.

The government had previously announced plans to increase the average high school class size to 28 from 22. The province has since said that they would agree to a less drastic increase of 25 students per class.

The government has recently passed legislation to cap wage increases for all public-sector workers, however high school teachers are looking for increases to account for inflation – around two per cent.

Parents and community members held a rally outside of the hotel to support the teachers Tuesday evening.

Prior to the announcement of the planned one-day strike, teachers were already engaged in a work-to-rule campaign which entailed not putting comments on report cards, not participating in standardized testing, and not taking part in unpaid staff meetings outside school hours.

Lecce has blamed the union for “escalating” tensions between the two sides.

The province’s public high school teachers have been without a contract since August.

Strike means schools across the GTA will be closed Wednesday

A number of school boards across the province will be closed today because of the strike one-day strike.

“Should there be a walkout on December 4, the TDSB would have no other option but to close all secondary schools to students as there would not be sufficient supervision to ensure their safety,” the Toronto District School Board said in a tweet. “This would include all TDSB secondary schools, Adult Day Schools and Secondary Night Schools.”

The TDSB said any field trips or other out-of-school activities would also be cancelled and urged parents and caregivers to make alternate arrangements for their kids.  

School boards in York, Peel and Durham regions have also said that secondary schools will be closed to students.

In some parts of the province where the OSSTF also represents educational support workers, the strike means that elementary schools are also closed. Those areas include the Waterloo Region District School Board and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

The OSSTF said teachers will return to the classroom on Thursday, December 5.  

– With files from The Canadian Press

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