Welcome to the CUPE BC K-12 Presidents’ Council site

Welcome to the CUPE BC K-12 Presidents’ Council site

The K-12 Presidents’ Council represents 57 CUPE locals in school districts across British Columbia.

CUPE represents more than 27,000 education workers including: Education Assistants, School Secretaries, Caretakers, First Nations Support Workers, IT Workers, Strong Start Facilitators, Trades and Maintenances Workers, and Bus Drivers.

We strive to protect quality public education for all.

COVID-19 FAQ

Duty to accommodate

Members with a medical condition may be entitled to an accommodation. Depending on the circumstances, the School District may be required to consider alternative working arrangements. Those arrangements will be tailored to the individual circumstances, and might include modified work schedules, changes to the working environment, the provision of additional PPE, or working from home arrangements.

The onus is on the member and the union to prove that the member has a medical condition that requires accommodation. That means that the member will need to get at least a written doctor’s note supporting their request.

If members need a medical accommodation, they should make an appointment with their physician immediately to discuss their circumstances.  Members should provide their doctor with as much information as possible about the specific job, and the plan for returning to work so that the doctor can give an informed opinion about whether the workplace is safe for them, and what accommodations might be needed.

Do not leave these issues until September! Members in this situation should schedule an appointment with their doctor right away. Contact your Local for assistance if needed.

Unless they are granted a leave of absence such as a medical leave, school district employees must attend work or risk the possibility of discipline. It is not up to individual members to decide whether or not they are comfortable returning to work. Anyone who has specific circumstances that pose problems for their return to work should raise those issues with their Local and the district well in advance of September.

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Learning groups (cohorts)

A learning group (cohort) is an extra layer of protection that provides an opportunity for children to interact in school. This recommendation of the PHO increases the ability to better track if there is a COVID outbreak. Learning groups are limited to a maximum 60 students and staff in elementary and middle schools and 120 students and staff in high schools.

Support staff and teachers are included in the learning group numbers. They can leave the cohort as long as they are practising physical distancing.

No. Your household bubble is made up of the people closest to you that you can hug, and you don’t have to practice physical distancing with them. The learning group does not negate physical distancing. We know we can’t always maintain physical distancing at all times in schools and learning groups make sure that risk periods are small and only with a limited number of students.

Learning groups are recommended by the PHO as a way to reduce the number of interactions between students and staff, and to limit potential exposure.

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Find more information here.

Health and safety

All districts must adhere to the same safety guidelines as set out by the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. Implementation may vary slightly to district to district as they meet their individual needs.

Please bring your safety concerns to your site health and safety committee.

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Other

Districts are required to consult with unions in the district as part of the planning for stage two. Locals are encouraged to contact their districts to start these discussions now.

The Ministry of Education has allocated $45.6 million to schools to be used for various needs including hiring more staff, purchasing masks, and $3 million to support remote learning (including the purchase of devices and software).

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We are working to find answers for many questions our members have and will add them to future FAQs.

The steering committee continues to meet and we will continue to advocate on behalf of members’ concerns.

K-12 Restart: A Letter to Members

Hello everybody,

I understand that the restart announcement came as quite a surprise to members. CUPE, along with other stakeholders, have been involved by providing input on the plan. The consultation involved all K-12 education stakeholders throughout the development process, and CUPE’s concerns helped shape the plan that went forward. Unions have equal representation on the steering committee that is working on the September K-12 restart plan.

We know that members are nervous and fearful; we are in a pandemic—something we’ve never seen before. The restart plan allows for cohorts or learning groups of a maximum of 60 in elementary and middle schools and 120 in secondary schools. These numbers reflect the scientific and public health evidence that has led B.C. to be recognized as a leader in pandemic management and transmission control.

CUPE puts the health and safety of our members first, as well as the safety of students and staff, families and the public. The September restart plan recognizes the importance of education for children and also for our members’ livelihoods. Many of B.C.’s most vulnerable kids remained in schools throughout April, May and June, thanks to our dedicated EAs and support staff who were able to make those environments safe and productive. While there were challenges experienced, those challenges were overcome and informed the development of the plan announced this week.

The design of the school day, learning group system, and overall return plan was developed with the advice and guidance of the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. It has been her guidance and leadership that has made B.C. a leading jurisdiction in North America in terms of managing the pandemic, keeping transmissions low, and maintaining key services.

In terms of what CUPE and the K-12 Presidents Council have been seeking, there are several elements of the plan that are the direct result of CUPE’s advocacy, including funding for increased daytime cleaning, and the provision of masks to anyone who requests them.

The return to school plan is just that, a plan. It will be adjusted and changed based on experience and new information as it rolls out, as well as on how the pandemic evolves. As we discuss implementation over the next few weeks, our focus will remain on keeping the environment safe for all members who work directly with kids in schools, along with other CUPE members whose valuable work is key to the public school system.

CUPE and the K-12 Presidents Council ‘s advocacy continues each and every day as the plan evolves and is being implemented.

In safety and solidarity,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View letter here.

PHO updates K-12 Restart: kids back in class this September

Message from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams

B.C.’s response to COVID-19 under the guidance of Dr. Bonnie Henry, has led to the best outcomes in North America. By all doing our part and following the science-based direction of the Provincial Health Officer, B.C. has achieved a low community transmission rate.

Minister of Education Rob Fleming announced today that the stages for K-12’s restart have been updated based on direction from the Provincial Health Officer and her team.

Stage 2 has been revised to allow for all students to go back to class in September by creating learning groups or cohorts with a limited number of students. The Ministry announced today that elementary and middle schools will limit learning groups to 60, while high schools will be limited to 120.

To support the return to school, comprehensive COVID-19 safety measures will be put in place in all districts to help protect students and staff.

These include enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, extra hand washing and sanitizing stations, signs to direct traffic flow, additional custodians for daytime cleaning, and physical barriers where needed. Staff will have access to masks that will be provided by the government to districts.

We are holding a virtual K-12 Presidents Council meeting on August 4 at 3 p.m. to review the B.C. K-12 Restart plan.

We are also putting together Frequently Asked Questions that we will post on the BC Schools web site by the end of this week. We’ll update this when questions come up as things evolve.

In safety and solidarity,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View PDF – Bulletin #15

The Study that Caught Dr. Bonnie Henry’s Attention

Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, recently cited a reassuring study out of the Netherlands that explains that the virus is mainly spread between adults, with the spread of COVID-19 among children or from children to adults being less common.

“For young children in particular, they don’t seem to be as affected by it. They don’t seem to have as severe illnesses, and they don’t seem to pass it on to adults as effectively,” said Dr. Henry.

To read the full report by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment please see here.

View PDF.

The above information was sent to education stakeholders by the Ministry of Education.

SOURCE: Ministry of Education email sent to stakeholder groups.

 

 

 

K-12 Bulletin #14

Message from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams

B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming said on Wednesday that a detailed plan of the September restart will be released in the coming weeks, but that parents of kindergarten to Grade 7 students “should prepare for a full restart.”

As a stakeholder to the Restart Steering Committee initiated by government, we are meeting regularly throughout the summer months.

Could you let us know your experiences or concerns during COVID. Please encourage members to check their email and complete the COVID survey.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View the bulletin.

Find more info about the plans for K-12 restart here.

THANK YOU

A big thank you to CUPE K-12 members for supporting children of essential services workers and vulnerable children in B.C. schools during these challenging times. Custodians, clerical, education assistants, bus drivers, IT, and many members who were redeployed provided supports to students and their families. Members collected, sorted, and distributed food to families in their communities. They delivered learning packages to students and helped where they were needed so that voluntary in-class instruction could be offered to families starting in June.

The hard work, attention to detail, and care for students that members bring to their jobs, is appreciated and valued.

On behalf of the K-12 Presidents Council I want to also thank the business agents, CUPE National reps, and specialist reps who support the work of our locals every day.

Don’t forget to check out the K-12 Presidents Council video thanking members for all their work during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Have a safe summer and enjoy your time with family and friends.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View PDF.

K-12 Bulletin #12

Message from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams

The last few months have been stressful and we all need a break. As we near the end of the school year in a few weeks, I hope everyone is able to pause and spend some time relaxing with family and friends. We will continue to share information as we find things out.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View the bulletin.

K-12 Bulletin #11: Meet members at work during the COVID-19 pandemic

Message from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams

I want to thank all members for their hard work and continued support for B.C. students. There are many questions about September and each district will function a little differently. We will continue to update you as we get more information.

In solidarity and safety,
Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View the bulletin.