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, custodians/caretakers, Indigenous support workers, IT workers, Strong Start facilitators, trades and maintenance workers, and bus drivers.

We strive to protect quality public education for all.

Bulletin – Help prevent workplace violence in schools

K-12 Health & Safety Toolkit workshop on September 23rd

K-12 schools are unique and complex workplaces, and both the number of claims and the injury rate related to workplace violence in K-12 schools rose steadily between 2015 and 2019.

Workers may interact with people who do not yet have the capacity to understand that their behaviour could cause physical and/or psychological injury to others. All workers, supervisors, and employers have a responsibility to help prevent workplace violence in schools.

To support schools in their efforts to prevent workplace violence, WorkSafeBC established a working group with K-12 sector partners – including CUPE BC – to develop and raise awareness of resources and tools tailored to school settings.

The K-12 Presidents Council is hosting a workshop on September 23, 2021, from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. to unveil a new K-12 Health and Safety Toolkit.

Panelists Tom McKenna, CUPE Occupational Health and Safety specialist, and Hans Loeffelholz, BCPSEA sector lead for OH&S, will present an overview of the new toolkit and answer questions on its use in the workplace.

CLICK here for registration information

The tools, along with a guidance document, posters, and a video, are now available on the WorkSafeBC K-12 violence tools website. To preview the materials, please visit https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/news-events/campaigns/help-prevent-workplace-violence-in-schools

These materials represent the culmination of two years of work by K-12 Workplace Violence Prevention Working Group – Canadian Union of Public Employees British Columbia (CUPE BC), BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA), BC Principals’ and Vice Principals’ Association (BCPVPA), BC School Superintendents Association (BCSSA), BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), School Safety Association of BC (SSABC), and occupational health and safety specialists representing both rural and urban school districts.

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Bulletin – Employer Proof of Vaccine Requests

While there are currently no public health orders (PHOs) that directly address mandatory immunization for education workers, some of our members may be indirectly impacted by the B.C. Government’s vaccine certificate program.

Where an employee’s job duties place them in locations or at events that require vaccination, employers may require vaccination status disclosures. Such policies would likely be found to be a reasonable exercise of management rights. Employers adopting such policies, however, are required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who choose not to be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.

Aside from protected human rights grounds, where employees are not vaccinated (or choose not to disclose their vaccination status) there may be employment consequences. These will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Some examples may include modified work duties, transfers, or unpaid administrative leaves. CUPE will continue to advocate for the protection of our members’ jobs and will address the employers’ actions on a case-by-case basis.

COVID-related Documents from Parents

Some support staff in the K-12 sector have recently been presented with documents from parents which claim to exempt their child from various COVID-19 public health measures. These documents are sometimes titled “Notice of Liability” or “Non-Consent Exemption”. They contain a dense collection of legal jargon related to compliance with mask mandates, testing protocols, and other public health measures.

CUPE members in the K-12 sector can safely disregard these notices. K-12 support staff are in no way personally liable for any of the alleged ‘harms’ described in these documents. CUPE members are not responsible for developing safety protocols or public health orders. Those matters are the responsibility of public health officials, the government, and the employer. Our members should continue to act in accordance with the direction from their employers and may forward the notices to the employer.

Online Learning Representative Sought

We are looking for a CUPE member who provides online learning as part of their job and is active in their local. Please contact your National Representative if you have a member you could recommend.

PEBT member-trustee opening

There is a vacancy for a Public Education Benefits Trust (PEBT) member-trustee. More information for anyone interested will be circulated soon.

Bargaining Committee Elections

A reminder to all locals to elect their bargaining committees for the upcoming round of negotiations, and to regional councils to elect their representatives to the provincial bargaining committee (Northern, Kootenays, Thompson-Okanagan, Fraser Valley, South Island, North Island, and Metro Vancouver).

Health & Safety Tool Kit

A workshop on the new health and safety toolkit developed by the K-12 violence prevention working group will take place on September 23, 2021, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. This workshop, hosted by the K-12 Presidents Council, is recommended for K-12 presidents, unit chairs, health and safety committee reps and CUPE staff. A reminder with registration info will be sent separately.

Notice of Next Meeting

The K-12 Presidents Council will hold its next meeting on October 13th, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The zoom link and agenda will be sent in a separate notice. Those regions that have not yet elected their provincial bargaining committee representatives will hold their regional elections at this meeting.

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Bulletin – K-12 Communicable Disease Guidelines for new school year

The B.C. government has released an up-to-date Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K-12 Schools and the Provincial Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings in preparation for the start of the 2021/2022 school year. The guidance replaces previous COVID-19 guidelines and take effect August 24, 2021.

Highlights of the guidance include:

  • Vaccines are highly recommended for all staff and eligible students. At this time, proof of vaccination requirements for non-essential public places announced by the province will not apply to K-12 schools, or before and after school programs.
  • Mandatory masks indoors and on buses for students in grades’ 4 and up, and for in-school staff provincewide. Masks for students in grades’ 3 and below are recommended. BC WorkSafe guidelines and provincial health orders will apply in administrative offices and other staff-only environments.
  • Daily cleaning of frequent touch surfaces or when visibly dirty, and daily cleaning of low touch surfaces. General cleaning in line with regular practices.
  • Ministry of Education and BCCDC are advising regional approaches – local medical health officers can put local orders in place based on factors such as increased community transmission and/or low vaccination rates.
  • All school HVAC systems will continue to be regularly inspected and, moving forward, provincial funding will continue to be made available to upgrade or replace HVAC systems through routine capital programs. Through the work of CUPE members, school districts will continue to ensure all HVAC systems are operated and maintained so they continue to work properly.

There will be a transition from Districts being required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan to having a Communicable Disease Prevention Plan. It should be reviewed regularly by Site Committees and Joint Health and Safety Committees.

Daytime Custodial Services

While the commitment to daily cleaning is encouraging, CUPE will continue to advocate for permanent daytime custodial services to be provided in all school districts across the province. This is a critical priority for K-12 Presidents Council, and we have heard widespread support from other stakeholders in the education system. We will continue to work with the province and all stakeholders to build on the extremely extremely positive results daytime custodial services have had for the health of students, families, workers, and communities.

Vaccinations

CUPE strongly recommends vaccinations to all members, as they are crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19. The benefits of vaccinations clearly outweigh any risks, and we ask that you discuss any questions you have with your medical practitioners.

Reminder: All CUPE members working in the K-12 education system are asked to contact their Local immediately if they are asked by their employer about vaccination status, or if they ask for any other information regarding immunization.

Additional resources from CUPE’s Health & Safety Branch on COVID-19 vaccines:

Frequently Asked Questions

Workers’ Rights

Read more from the Ministry of Education on the updated guidance. The complete guidance is online at Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K-12 Schools along with the updated, Provincial Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings and the K-12 Education Recovery Plan.

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Clean and healthy schools priority for CUPE education workers this fall

BURNABY—The union representing over 30,000 education workers in BC public schools is calling on the provincial government to focus on providing clean and healthy environments for students and staff for the new school year. The Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling for daytime custodial services to be provided in all school districts along with mandatory masks for staff and students.

“The return of daytime custodians to BC schools during the pandemic had extremely positive results for the health of students, families, workers and communities. The services they provide are a major part of our success in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and into our communities,” says Karen Ranalletta, president of CUPE BC. “Daytime custodial services are vital to stopping the spread of diseases in schools and help reduce the amount of time staff and students miss due to illness. Our schools need these services, and they should be made permanent across the BC K-12 education system.”

In addition to daytime custodial services, CUPE is also calling for:

  • Adequate isolation protocols for students that are ill or showing symptoms, and for 2020/2021 Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety guidelines to be maintained into the new school year.
  • The province and school districts work to ensure school ventilation systems are working properly for the start of the school year, and system improvements are a priority in long-term infrastructure planning.
  • Mandatory masks in all school environments, including classrooms and buses, for staff and students.

“With the number of COVID cases still rising, and with no approved vaccine for kids under 12 years of age, a strong mask mandate across the province’s K-12 education system is a necessary precaution,” says Ranalletta. “Masks in schools, along with daytime custodial services, will ensure students have clean and healthy school environments to return to this fall, and will let families see their kids off to school with confidence they will be as safe as possible.”

CUPE is bringing these priorities directly to the BC government at the provincial K-12 Education Steering Committee. Established by the province at the start of the pandemic, CUPE representatives have been participating in the Committee advocating for CUPE members, and the students and communities they serve.

CUPE represents over 30,000 education workers across BC, including education assistants, school secretaries, custodians/caretakers, Indigenous support workers, IT workers, Strong Start facilitators, trades and maintenance workers, and bus drivers.

Bulletin – CUPE priorities for the return to school

With back-to-school on the horizon, the K-12 Presidents Council held a special meeting this week to discuss issues facing CUPE members as they prepare for the 2021/2022 school year. The Council discussed best practices for maintaining clean and healthy schools for both staff and students during the on-going pandemic.

The Council reaffirmed its call for making daytime custodial services permanent throughout the K-12 education system. Daytime custodians help reduce the spread of all diseases in our schools and their work reduces the amount of time staff and students miss due to illness. The extremely positive health benefits that students, workers, and communities have seen during the pandemic in reducing the spread of illnesses must be made permanent.

The Council supports calls for mandatory masks in schools and on busses for students and staff for the coming school year. With rising numbers of COVID cases, and with no approved vaccine for kids under 12 years of age, a mask mandate across the province’s K-12 education system is a necessary precaution.

The Council confirmed the need to maintain adequate isolation protocols for students that are ill or showing symptoms of illness. CUPE wants to ensure all school districts have clear and proper procedures in place to protect students and staff, and that these practices are followed.

The Council is also calling for the province to work with school districts to ensure school ventilation systems are working properly, viable upgrades are in place for the start of the school year, and that improvements to school ventilation are a priority in long-term infrastructure planning.

CUPE is speaking out on these issues directly with the BC government at the provincial K-12 Education Steering Committee. Established by the province at the start pandemic, with representatives from all stakeholder groups, your CUPE representatives are at those Steering Committee meetings advocating for our members.

As the province’s immunization efforts continue, CUPE strongly recommends vaccination in consultation with your own medical providers or practitioners.

CUPE’s Health and Safety Branch has resources available for your frequently asked questions about vaccinations, and the implications on workers’ rights of immunization requirements. Additional resources for K-12 locals will be coming in an upcoming bulletin.

If you are asked by your employer about whether you’ve been vaccinated, or if they ask for any other information regarding immunization, please contact your local.

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