COVID-19 – Member Update for May 24, 2020

Good Morning Members,

We apologize for the lack of updates this past week, but we were inundated with questions/concerns from members that consumed most of our available time to ensure everyone was responded to in a timely manner.

The bulk of concerns revolved around members returning to their workplaces for the first time, as well as the expectation to provide in class instruction to students and having accesses, or the ability to wear, medical and non-medical personal protective equipment if the 6ft/2m physical distancing protocols cannot be maintained, if personal care is required, or if working with students who cannot self-regulate.

The other issue at hand is members who have pre-existing medical conditions and what their options are moving forward.  Those that are looking for an accommodation have expressed concerns over the District’s safety protocols that they are asked to share with their physicians, as some of the expectations on this document are not being followed at their sites and this in turn proves problematic; therefore we have encouraged members to speak with their immediate supervisors to address the lack of follow through.  We are also asking members to reach out to the Joint Occupational Health and Safety reps should they have any concerns about protocols not being adhered to.  We anticipate that updated health and safety protocols will be coming out this week and this may impact members who are dealing with pre-existing medical conditions that are affected with COVID-19 thus requiring an accommodation or an adjustment to an existing one.

Your Union has been adamant that members should not be forced to use any of their leave benefits while the Employer works out an acceptable accommodation, members should be placed on “Paid Administrative” leave while plans are being worked out.  We also do not believe members should be forced to take a “Leave Without Pay” if they are unable to work due to COVID-19.  If you find yourself in either situation we ask that you please contact your respective Shop Steward so that we can gather the necessary information as we will be attempting to ensure that those members who have been negatively impacted by this pandemic are made whole.

The Employer is required to submit their educational plan for the month of June to the Ministry next week, we hope that these details will be shared with your Union Executive prior to submission so that we may have some discussion and input.  Given the tone of the K-12 Townhall that took place on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, it will be interesting to see how many parents will actually be willing to send their children back into a school setting at this time.  Therefore, we anticipate remote/on-line learning is still going to be required and not phased out district wide to one-day a week as your Union was originally advised.

There are still a lot of questions and concerns that are going to need to be addressed as we move through this health care crisis, but what we do know for certain is that COVID-19 is here and is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future, so we are going to have to find a way to get back to work in a safe way for all school district staff and students.  Your Union is committed to supporting members and advocating for all health and safety measures that are needed in our K-12 environments.  We encourage members to remain vocal and vigilant in the coming weeks and months so that we can all get through this together.

In Solidarity,

CUPE 411 Executive