TORONTO, Ont. – If teachers withdraw from student supervision duties, the safety of schools will be jeopardized, the president of the Ontario Principals’ Council said Monday.

“In our experience we know, if there aren’t adults out supervising the eyes and ears around the school that there will be problems and we’ve seen that in the past,” Ken Arnott told 680News.

“Some of these things would impact students’ learning environment but more importantly, impact school safety,” he said. “It makes it very difficult for us to be visible and to keep schools safe.”

Arnott said in secondary schools, in particular, a decrease in supervision, can lead to an increase in assault, vandalism and bullying.

Teachers at 20 boards across Ontario began strike actions after closed-door talks between their union and the province collapsed over the weekend. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said teachers will not attend staff meetings, communicate with parents after-hours or fill in for absent colleagues.

Arnott said the strike actions might impact students at elementary schools across the province because support staff in several public school boards are OSSTF members.

“It would be an increasing problem at the elementary level in schools that may only have one administrator and students as young as four years of age,” he said.

Arnott said several boards have a contingency plan that outlines how principals will proceed during the strike but its implementation is a “timely” process because of background checks.

‘There’s a timely process attached to that as well,” he said. “It’s not something that we can act on immediately.”

“We feel that those plans would still not be adequate or sustainable over the long term.”

The OSSTF represents 60,000 members.