Education workers in Windsor-Essex and across the province are preparing to strike on Monday and school boards are building contingency plans.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents 55,000 education workers, says it has given the legally required five day's notice to begin a strike.

Talks with the provincial government are set to resume on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

The CUPE workers, including custodians, clerical workers and early childhood educators, started a work-to-rule campaign this week.

The union represents different job titles at the each board in Windsor-Essex.

Officials at the Greater Essex County District School Board say they remain hopeful that a settlement can be secured before the deadline.

“However we are developing contingency plans in the event of a work stoppage by CUPE employees,” says GECDSB spokesperson Scott Scantlebury. “Clear and timely communication with our school communities is a priority.”

Scantlebury would not say if schools would close if a strike is held.

CUPE represents GECDSB custodial, maintenance, clerical and information technology staff. The board has already paused community use of schools due to the job action.

A number of community groups -- from scouts and guides to sports leagues -- have had to cancel or move their meetings or events from school gymnasiums.

At the Windsor Essex Catholic District School board, custodians are represented by Unifor, so it has not had the same impact for community use of school facilities.

“Parents should also know that the safety of their children is our primary concern,” said WECDSB Director of Education Terry Lyons in a statement. “We will be monitoring the bargaining situation closely and will communicate our intentions regarding a contingency plan for our schools as soon as we have a clearer sense of whether the union will indeed move to full-scale job action.”

Across the province, custodians have stopped cleaning hallways and emptying garbage cans outside schools, clerical workers have stopped finding replacements for absent staff, and education workers have stopped working overtime.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Tuesday that CUPE had accepted a government offer of new mediation dates so that talks could resume.

With files from a report by The Canadian Press that was first published Oct. 2, 2019.