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 30,000 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.

Bulletin 56 – B.C.’s vaccination plan updated

B.C.’s vaccine distribution plan focuses on first protecting the most vulnerable in Phases 1 and 2. We are now in Phase 2 which is expected to run from February to April. No one will lose their place in line. For example, if someone in Phase 2 cannot be immunized at that time, they can get the vaccine at any point thereafter.

Delay on second doses

On Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that every eligible adult in British Columbia should be able to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by late July based on the approval of a new vaccine and the decision to delay second doses.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) gives the Public Health Agency of Canada scientific advice about immunization. It recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, the number of people receiving vaccines be maximized by extending the interval for the second dose to four months. This provides the opportunity to protect the entire adult population in a short timeframe. NACI will continue to monitor evidence on effectiveness of extended dose intervals and will adjust recommendations as needed.

Accelerating availability

A joint statement from the Minister of Health and the PHO noted that the addition of the newly approved AstraZeneca vaccine means they may be able to look at accelerating vaccine availability for essential workers. We are hopeful that the approval of the new vaccine will result in an earlier timeline for K-12 members.

Vaccines are safe

Health Canada has conducted a rigorous and thorough scientific review of the available medical evidence to assess the safety of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines before approving them. No major safety concerns have been identified in the data.

Canada has agreements with 7 pharmaceutical companies to get enough doses to immunize all Canadians.

The COVID-19 vaccine produces immunity which means that you can be exposed without becoming sick, or if you do become infected, it prevents more severe illness.

Vaccines protect both the vaccinated person and everyone around them.

CUPE encourages all members to receive the vaccine when it becomes available to them. We also recognize that some members will refuse the vaccine due to medical, religious or cultural reasons. If this is your situation, please work with your CUPE Local and National Representative.

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Bulletin 55 – COVID-19 variants in K-12

As of February 21, the U.K. variant of COVID-19 has been identified in exposure events in five schools in Surrey and one school in Delta.

Surrey schools affected are:

  • AHP Matthew Elementary
  • James Ardiel Elementary
  • École Woodward Hill Elementary
  • Surrey Traditional Elementary
  • Tamanawis Secondary

One school in Delta, Hellings Elementary, also has been identified with the U.K. variant.

Thankfully all of the 35 tests, administered at the six schools, came back negative. Referencing that layers of protection are working, the PHO is not revising guidelines at this time, although they are closely monitoring the situation and will revise guidelines, following the science.

Variants

The COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, appears to make the virus more infectious, allowing it to spread more easily. There may be an increase in severity of symptoms and mortality rates depending on the variant of the virus.

When there have been several significant mutations to the virus, it is called a variant. A variant is considered “a variant of concern” when it affects:

  • disease spread
  • disease severity
  • tests used to detect the virus
  • vaccines and treatments

Stopping the spread

Our Early Years–K-12 members are to be commended for their commitment in keeping schools safe, while continuing to provide high quality education and care. It is more important than ever to remain vigilant in the personal efforts we are each making to stop the spread of COVID-19. This includes staying home when sick, washing hands frequently, maintaining physical distance when possible, and wearing a mask when not possible to maintain distancing.

Meanwhile, we are supporting you by successfully advocating for improvements to public health and health and safety measures, such as having school districts provide paid time for isolation, quarantine and school closures when directed by public health; and improvements to streamline the process of exposure notification recently announced by Fraser Health. The Rapid Response Team is now in place and will begin its work liaising with districts and health authorities next week. Fraser Health has now implemented additional protective measures in response to increasing COVID-19 and variant cases in the region.

CUPE continues to work with the BC Centre for Disease Control, the B.C. government, WorkSafeBC and all K-12 stakeholder groups in reviewing and amending health and safety guidelines. As a baseline, these are the minimum standards school districts must meet and worksite specific safety plans are required to detail these measures and address enhanced responses to local circumstances.

If you have concerns about the safety measures in your worksite, please work with your joint health and safety representatives and CUPE local to address these issues.

Please follow us @cupe12bc on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and view bulletins at https://bcschools.cupe.ca.

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Bulletin 54 – Wear pink on February 24

On Wednesday, Feb. 24th, we wear pink to show that every student deserves to feel safe at school.

The first Pink Shirt Day was a student-organized protest against homophobic bullying. In 2007, a Grade 9 student in Nova Scotia was targeted, threatened with violence and called a “homosexual” because he wore a pink shirt to school. Witnessing this, fellow students David Shepherd and Travis Price bought and distributed pink shirts for their classmates to wear.

The resulting “sea of pink” sent a powerful message of solidarity—not only for the bullied student, but for all who have been told to dress or act a certain way because of their gender. On #PinkShirtDay honour the roots of the movement by reflecting on what we can do to stop homophobic and transphobic bullying.

In safety and solidarity,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

Colour me pink!

Take a photo of yourself wearing pink or colour this t-shirt and take a photo. Email us your pink pics and we’ll create a “wall of pink” to post on bcschools.cupe.ca.

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Bulletin 53 – Progress on standardization of EA credentialling

We’re making exciting progress on standardization of credentialling for education assistants across the province!

Bulletin #39 on November 27 reported on some of the terms negotiated in the Provincial Framework Agreement to work toward these objectives:

  1. To standardize EA credentials and qualifications across the province, to prevent school districts from creating in-house EA qualification programs as short as two weeks in length.
  2. To increase EA hours, where possible and desired, to full-time.
  3. To increase classification and compensation of EAs in the public education system, ensuring that EAs are appropriately educated and equipped to provide high level assistance that will ensure the safety of students and EAs.

Negotiation and advocating for EAs

The provincial Job Evaluation Committee, Health and Safety Taskforce, and School Support Education Committee all have mandates to address these objectives. The Provincial Framework Agreement (Article 11 – Early Care and Learning Plan) was also negotiated, in part, to pursue opportunities to maximize EA hours of work.

In addition to these negotiated terms and the great work of the provincial committees, CUPE has been consistently advocating for standardization of EA credentials with the Ministry of Education. On behalf of CUPE education assistants, we will be continuing this dialogue in the months to come.

One of our key objectives is to have standardized provincial education requirements for EAs established, with credentials offered exclusively through public post-secondary institutions. Experienced EAs who are already working should have the
opportunity to participate in additional education, if desired, but this should not be mandatory for those EAs. This objective will provide the provincial JE Committee with greater ability to apply a standardized and increased classification and compensation structure for CUPE EAs across the province.

Working together with the Ministry

We understand that the Ministry of Education recognizes the need for these improvements to the education system and will work with CUPE on implementing these goals. This process will require some time to ensure that a system for standardizing EA credentials is well-structured. We will continue to pursue this as a priority for EAs and we commit to providing regular updates on this subject.

Please follow us @cupeK12bc on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and view bulletins at https://bcschools.cupe.ca.

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Bulletin 52 – Revised K-12 COVID-19 guidelines released

The Ministry of Education, in a collaborative process with provincial health officials, WorkSafeBC, CUPE and B.C.’s education partners and rightsholders, announced significant updates to the K-12 Health and Safety Guidelines earlier today. CUPE sits on the Steering Committee where we advocate for safer schools and increased guidance to the K-12 sector.

As many of these changes are welcomed, they are intentionally broad so as to allow for districts to implement them according to their individual operational structures.

We strongly encourage K-12 locals and Health & Safety Committee representatives to take part in the implementation process to ensure these measures are carried out effectively within your specific district.

Save the dates: K-12 Presidents Council meeting

The K-12 Presidents Council and CUPE K-12 coordinators will be holding two meetings next week with K-12 local presidents, unit chairs and your local Joint Health and Safety Committee representatives. We will review the practical application of the guideline changes and CUPE National OH&S representative Tom McKenna will be available to answer questions.

We encourage you to participate in these meetings to provide input as well as have the opportunity to ask questions.

Tuesday, February 9 and Thursday, February 11 at 3 p.m.

We continue to work with the Ministry of Education through the Education Steering Committee and other partner meetings on a weekly basis to discuss and advocate on behalf of K-12 members across B.C. and look to locals to guide this advocacy.

The Ministry of Education will be funding the development of a Rapid Response Team to liaise with Regional Health Authorities. This will assist with the exposure notification process.

We want to commend all K-12 members for their tireless work throughout this pandemic and their continued strength.

Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 with changes highlighted are online. Guidelines for regular reviews of health and safety plans will help ensure consistent application across districts. Other revisions include buses, cleaning and
disinfecting, and guidelines for staff only spaces.

Wearing masks

Clarifications on masks include:

  • Elementary students’ mask use is based on personal or family/
    caregivers choice
  • Bus drivers are required to wear a mask on buses

K-12 staff and middle/secondary students should wear a mask indoors in school except when:

  • sitting or standing at their seat or workstation in a
    classroom or learning space
  • there is a barrier in place
  • eating or drinking

Those wearing masks must still practice physical distancing.

A new Health Check app

You can download the Ministry of Education’s K-12 Health Check app. Mobile apps are available for Apple and Google.

Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 with changes highlighted are online.

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