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.

Existing sick leave benefits and other terms in the collective agreements apply. This means that members should have access to sick leave if they are unable to work due to a health issue. It also means that they may be required to provide medical documentation to support their request for sick leave. However, we recognize that for many members, existing sick pay may not be enough. We have flagged this with government and will continue to push for improvements to sick leave benefits so that members can be sure that they will not be without pay if they cannot work because of COVID-19.

In some cases, members may be entitled to an accommodation. If a member has a documented medical issue, the employer is required to consider alterations to the workplace including adjusted schedules, additional PPE, working from home, or other modifications to the workplace so that the member can continue to work safely. These cases are all unique and will depend on the circumstances. That said, members will be required to provide medical documentation of their condition and restrictions.

In some cases, the employer may be required to accommodate you based on “family status” as described in the Human Rights Code. These cases are rare, and typically only arise where the employee is legally required to care for someone, such as a child. Family status accommodation typically does not apply where the vulnerable person is a parent or other adult family member. Whatever the case, you will need to get a recommendation from a doctor about what is safe and appropriate for you and your family member. If the doctor recommends that you not attend the workplace, you may need a leave of absence or to seek an accommodation. If this circumstance applies to you, you should speak to your union representative immediately to get assistance. You should also schedule an appointment with a doctor to discuss your circumstances and get advice.

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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.

UPDATED AUGUST 17, 2020

Parents and caregivers must assess their child daily and if a child has any symptoms, they must not take the bus to school.

Students should clean their hands before they leave home to take the bus, when they leave school prior to taking the bus, and when they get home.

Middle and secondary students are required to wear non-medical masks when they are on the bus. Non-medical masks are not recommended for elementary school students.

If space is available, students should each have their own seat (unless sharing with a member of their household) and sit separated side to side and front to back.

There may be slight variations to the above by individual school districts, but PHO recommendations must be followed by all districts.

(See pages 12 and 13 of the updated health and safety guidelines for K-12 settings.)

UPDATED AUGUST 17, 2020

Staff outside of a learning group must practice physical distancing when interacting with the learning group.

In situations where staff outside a learning group cannot practice physical distancing, other measures must be explored, such as reconfiguring rooms, securing an alternate space to allow for physical distancing, installing a physical barrier made of transparent material, or providing virtual services where possible.

When staff are interacting with people outside of their learning group—or are in a situation where physical distancing cannot be maintained and none of the strategies outlined above are viable options—staff are required to wear a non-medical mask, a face covering or a face shield (in which case a non-medical mask should be worn in addition to the face shield).

(See page 7 of the updated health and safety guidelines for K-12 settings.)

A learning group is a group of students and staff who remain together throughout the school quarter, semester or year and who primarily interact with each other.

Within a learning group, K-12 students and staff do not need to maintain physical distancing. All staff must still make efforts to minimize physical contact within learning groups.

Outside of their own learning group, middle and secondary students and all K-12 staff need to practice physical distancing of two metres, and other safety protocols like frequent hand washing and covering coughs. Most importantly, anyone who feels unwell must stay home.

Extracurricular activities will likely involve students interacting outside of their learning groups and appropriate physical distancing is required in those circumstances.

As stated in the BCCDC guidelines, outside of a learning group, all K-12 staff as well as middle and secondary students, need to practice physical distancing of two metres, and implement other safety protocols like frequent hand hygiene as identified by the PHO and BC Centre of Disease Control. Staff from outside of the learning group must practice physical distancing at all times in all interactions at work.

Learning groups and physical distancing are complementary strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19. By organizing students and staff into learning groups, the number of different interactions and potential exposure is reduced, and contact tracing is better supported if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school community.

Within learning groups, minimizing physical contact is the rule. Those outside of a learning group must practice physical distancing when interacting with a learning group. If a two-metre distance can be maintained between people from different learning groups, two classes from different learning groups can be in the same space at the same time.

Staff outside of a learning group must practice physical distancing when interacting with the learning group. Where physical distancing is not possible, other measures must be explored, such as reconfiguring rooms, securing an alternate space to allow for physical distancing, installing a physical barrier made of transparent materials, or providing virtual services where possible.

(See pages 5, 6 and 7 of the updated “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

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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.

The PHO, in collaboration with health authorities, will oversee all outbreaks as they have been doing. Their response will vary depending on how the person contracted COVID-19. The public health team will do contact tracing and the PHO will give direction on what response is needed. This could range from isolation to quarantine depending on the situation. If the rate of community infection rises, the PHO will revise recommendations as needed.

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

UPDATED AUGUST 17, 2020

Managing students with complex behaviours, medical complexities or those receiving delegated care may require staff providing health services or other health care providers to be in close proximity or in physical contact with a medically complex or immune suppressed student.

In community-based clinical settings where there is a low incidence and prevalence of COVID-19, additional personal protective equipment over and above that required for normal practices is not required. The same guidance is applicable to staff providing health services and other health care providers who are providing health services in schools. However, if a person providing health services assesses the need for personal protective equipment beyond routine practices following a point of care risk assessment, it should be worn.

Staff providing health care services and other health care providers are required to wear a mask when working in close proximity with students.

When staff are in close physical proximity with a student within their learning group, personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, is not required beyond that used as part of the personal care routine normally encountered in their regular course of work (e.g. gloves for toileting).

Wearing a non-medical mask, a face covering, or a face shield (in which case a non-medical mask should be worn in addition to the face shield) in schools outside of the circumstances outlined above is a personal choice and will be respected.

(See pages 10 and 21 of the updated health and safety guidelines for K-12 settings.)

All districts are required to submit their safety plan to the Ministry by August 21. Districts are also required to consult with unions prior to developing their plan. The K-12 Presidents Council has recommended that locals meet with their district now to give input on the safety plan. Many locals have started these meetings and will continue to do so as they work towards the August 21 deadline.

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

Normally, when a worker files a Work­Safe claim due to an occupational disease, the worker is required to prove that the disease was caused by the workplace. This places an onerous burden on the worker to prove causa­tion, which is often highly controver­sial. However, WorkSafe maintains a list of diseases and industries in which the disease is presumed to be caused by the workplace if the workers work in one of the associated industries. Usually this occurs where scientific evidence establishes that certain occupational diseases occur more commonly in that industry. For example, the list includes a presumption for mesothelioma in industries where there is exposure to airborne asbestos dust. In those cases, the worker does not need to prove that their illness was caused by the workplace in order to access compensation.

WorkSafe has added a presumption that covers any “communicable viral pathogen” that is subject to an order of the Provincial Health Officer, or the subject of a state of emergency. The applicable industries include those where the risk of exposure to the disease is significantly greater than that of the public at large during the times and in the places covered by the Provincial Health Officer’s notice, or the state of emergency. The change means that anyone who contracts one of these diseases—and who works in an industry that is at greater risk of exposure to the disease—does not need to prove that they contracted the disease at the workplace.

The change is not restricted to COVID-19 and would also apply to future epidemics that are the subject of orders from the Provincial Health Officer or subject to a state of emergency.

Normally, changes to the list of pre­sumptions requires 90 days before they come into effect. Bill 23 overrides that time frame and allows the change to come into effect immediately.

In most cases, yes. Workers who contract COVID-19 will be able to claim Workers Compensation as long as they work in an industry that is at greater risk of exposure than the public at large. WorkSafe has not provided any guidance on what types of workplaces will be covered by this description, however, so there remains some uncertainty. In all likelihood, any workplace that includes exposure to the public or larger numbers of people will be covered.

Districts must follow the cleaning guidelines of the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Provincial Health Officer/BC Ministry of Health. This document provides guidance for K-12 schools settings, and it is updated regularly by the government as changes are made. For current and updated information on cleaning and disinfecting for public settings check out this document.

WorkSafeBC has added K-12 Guide­lines to their website. Find these additional resources here.

Parents and others who are permitted to come into schools will be required to follow the safety protocols outlined in the district’s safety plan. These protocols must follow PHO guidelines for safety at all times. CUPE and the K-12 Presidents Council have been advocating that all members of the public, including parents and volun­teers, check in with the school office or call prior to arriving at the school, and that schools limit the number of outside visitors whenever possible.

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

Please refer to question #18 on the bcschools.cupe.ca website which deals with the need for personal protective equipment beyond routine practices.

(See pages 20 and 21 of the updated “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

Wearing non-medical masks at all times is not recommended in schools because there are multiple, more effective infection prevention and exposure control measures in place. These measures provide multiple layers of protection that reduce the risk of transmission. They include:

  • Ensuring students and staff stay home when they are sick or required to self-isolate, including ensuring everyone who enters the school does a daily health check
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection
  • Placing students and staff into consistent groupings of people (learning groups)
  • Adapting learning environments to maximize use of space
  • Ensuring physical distancing can be maintained between learning groups
  • Frequent hand hygiene

Members will need to review their district’s safety plans in terms of the use of masks as some may vary.

(See page 21 of the updated “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

Visitor access during school hours should be prioritized to those supporting activities that benefit student learning and well-being. Schools should ensure that visitors are aware of health and safety protocols and requirements prior to entering the school. Schools should keep a list of the date, names and contact information for any visitors who enter the school.

(See page 15 of the updated “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

As per WorkSafeBC guidelines, employers must involve frontline workers, joint health and safety committees, and supervisors in identifying protocols for their workplace. School districts and schools should ensure they have active Site Committees and Joint Health and Safety Committees that meet regularly,including prior to any transitions between stages, and are included in school district/school planning efforts.

(See page 22 of the updated “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

CUPE recommends three levels of health and safety committees, sometimes known as Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) or Joint Occupational Safety and Health Committees (JOSH).

District Health and Safety Committee

The central, or district committee, oversees health and safety for large employers, employers with multiple work sites, and employers with complex or systemic issues that have wide impact such as violence in the workplace, as well as issues that require a lot of resources or require major actions to resolve.

Joint Health and Safety Committee

The second type of committee is the joint health and safety committee, which is the only type of committee recognized by WorkSafeBC. This joint committee is required under The Workers Compensation Act and should be included in a local’s collective agreement along with the other two levels of committees. This joint committee meets monthly and is required to comply with The Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, as well as the committee’s Terms of Reference.

Site Health and Safety Committee

The third type of committee, a site (or local) health and safety committee is important for large locals that have numerous job classifications, complex and varied health and safety issues, or are spread out geographically  with a variety of departments or locations. Site committees know their workplace and gather information that is provided to the Joint Health and Safety Committees when action is required.

Specific information about K-12 site committees will be covered in a future bulletin.

To support physical distancing requirements, schools should consider installing barriers made of transparent material in places where physical distance cannot be regularly maintained, and a person is interacting with numerous individuals outside of a learning group. This may include a front reception desk where visitors check in, a library check-out desk, or where food is distributed in a cafeteria.

(See page 9 of the updated “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

At this time, there is no evidence that a building’s ventiliation system, in good operating condition, is contributing to the spread of the virus.

School districts are required to ensure that heating, ventiliation, and HVAC (air conditioning) systems are designed, operated, and maintained as per standards and specifications for ongoing comfort of workers. The WorkSafeBC website has an FAQ on ventilation.

(See page 21 of the updated “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

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

Schools will have non-medical masks and face shields available for staff.

(See page 10 of the updated “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

Staff are required to wear a non-medical mask, a face covering or a face shield (in which case a non-medical mask should be worn in addition to the face shield) in high traffic areas such as buses and in common areas such as hallways, or anytime outside of their learning group whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained (e.g., itinerant teachers, specialists interacting with multiple learning groups). Staff can also wear a mask, a face covering or a face shield within their classroom or learning group if that is their personal preference.

Schools and school districts will have non-medical masks available for staff and students, including anyone who becomes ill while at school. Schools and school districts should consider distributing masks and face shields at the beginning of the school year on an opt-out basis, rather than at the request of students/staff.

Wearing a non-medical mask, face covering or face shield in schools outside of the circumstances outlined above is a personal choice for students and adults. It is important to treat people wearing masks with respect.

Those that choose to wear non-medical masks, face coverings or face shields must still seek to maintain physical distance from people outside of their learning group. There must be no crowding, gathering or congregating of people from different learning groups, even if non-medical masks are worn.

(See page 20 of the updated “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

Schools will have non-medical masks and face shields available for staff.

(See page 10 “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

Staff are required to wear a non-medical mask, a face covering or a face shield (in which case a non-medical mask should be worn in addition to the face shield) in high traffic areas such as buses and in common areas such as hallways, or anytime outside of their learning group whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained (e.g., itinerant teachers,
specialists interacting with multiple learning groups). Staff can also wear a mask, a face covering or a face shield within their classroom or learning group if that is their personal preference.

Schools and school districts will have non-medical masks available for staff and students, including anyone who becomes ill while at school. Schools and school districts should consider distributing masks and face shields at the beginning of the school year on an opt-out basis, rather than at the request of students/staff.

Wearing a non-medical mask, face covering or face shield in schools outside of the circumstances outlined above is a personal choice for students and adults. It is important to treat people wearing masks with respect.

Those that choose to wear non-medical masks, face coverings or face shields must still seek to maintain physical distance from people outside of their learning group. There must be no crowding, gathering or congregating of people from different learning groups, even if non-medical masks are worn.

(See page 20 “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

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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).

UPDATED AUGUST 17, 2020

Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 settings were updated on August 17, 2020. The updated guidelines require middle and secondary students to wear non-medical masks when they are on the bus. However, no student is required to wear a mask if they cannot tolerate it. Non-medical masks are not recommended for elementary school students.

Students in middle and secondary school are required to wear non-medical masks in high traffic areas such as buses and common areas such as hallways, or any time outside of their learning group whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Staff are required to wear a non-medical mask, a face covering or a face shield (in which case a non-medical mask should be worn in addition to the face shield) in high traffic areas, common areas, and anytime they are outside of their learning group and cannot maintain physical distancing of two metres.

Staff can also wear a mask, a face covering or a face shield (combined with a non-medical mask) within their classroom or learning group if that is their personal preference. It is important to treat people wearing masks with respect.

(See pages 12 and 20 of the updated health and safety guidelines for K-12 settings.)

CUPE advocated for funding to hire additional staff and the government has allocated $23 million to immediately hire additional qualified custodians to fulfill the cleaning requirements in schools. BCCDC’s requirements include general cleaning and disinfecting of the premises at least once every 24-hours (includes items like an individual desk and locker that only a single student uses); cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at least twice every 24 hours (e.g. door knobs, light switches, toilet handles, tables, desks and chairs used by multiple students, keyboards and toys); and cleaning every surface that is visibly dirty.

Yes. CUPE and the BCTF both sit on the steering committee and we support each other. We are all in this together.

Public schools will receive $42.5 million and private schools will receive $3.1 million through the grant.

Public School Safe Return to School Grant

($ millions)

Reusable Masks / Face Shields                  2.2

Computers and Assistive Technology       3.0

Cleaning Supplies                                          5.1

Improved Hand Hygiene                              9.2

Cleaning Frequency*                                     23.0

*This line item covers hiring additional staff for cleaning and disinfecting.

Staff and students can continue to bring personal items to school, but they should be encouraged to only bring necessary items, such as backpacks, water bottles, clothing and school supplies.

Staff and students should not share personal items, including electronic devices, pens, etc.

Personal items should be labelled with the student’s name to discourage accidental sharing.

(See page 11 of the updated “Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.”)

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You can find pdfs of the updated Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings and K-12 Education Restart Plan under the Resources tab.

WorkSafeBC has added K-12 Guidelines to their website found here.

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

Bulletin #46

Welcome to 2021, K-12 CUPE members. We hope you had a much deserved restful break. As we enter the new year, we continue to serve a critical frontline role in our school systems in the face of the pandemic. We also want to recognize and applaud the important work that has continued throughout the winter break by many CUPE members to ensure continued operations and sanitization of schools and worksites.

Exciting opportunities planned for 2021 include:

  • January 19 presentation on mental health
  • Province-wide meetings for each classification
  • Bargaining preparation
  • …and more

Visit bcschools.cupe.ca frequently for updates and stay connected on Twitter,  Facebook and Instagram: @cupek12bc

REGISTER NOW

A light-hearted approach to the serious subject of Mental Health

January 19: 5:30–7:00 PM (Pacific Time)

Click here to register.

You will receive a meeting link unique to you by email.

A few reminders as we enter the new year:

COVID Safety Plans

Every school and worksite is required to have a COVID Safety Plan posted and have it available for review. We ask for your support in ensuring this is the case in your schools/worksites.
Any concerns with the content or enforcement of Safety Plans should be reported to your Workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee.

These plans are meant to be dynamic and change as per health authority requirements and specifics of each worksite/school.

Safety Plans should include ventilation systems, barriers, physical distancing, masks and PPE, cohorts, cleaning/sanitizing, and others as required.

To protect against COVID-19, it is important that we take a holistic view and use all preventative measures to help ensure the safety of ourselves and those around us.

Daily Health Checks/Updated Guidance for COVID-19 Testing

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has released updated guidance on when to get tested for COVID-19 information that applies to all British Columbians, including K-12 students and staff.

The new testing guidance is reflected in updates to BCCDC‘s Guidance for K-12 Settings, and the provincial K-12 health and safety guidelines. School and district administrators are also reminded to continue active daily health checks for staff and to communicate the importance to their schools of staying home when sick.

Surveys

Please watch for the Joint Health and Safety Committee survey and the Support Staff Education Committee survey. Your input is needed to inform the work of these two committees.

View PDF.

Bulletin #45

On behalf of your K-12 Presidents Council executive, I want to wish everyone a healthy and happy New Year! With vaccines now being rolled out in B.C., hopefully 2021 will be a brighter and safer year for all.

We hope everyone had a re-energizing winter break.

We all need to diligently follow the guidance of the PHO: keep physical distancing
wherever possible, wear masks if not possible; wash hands frequently; stay home if feeling at all unwell. As Dr. Bonnie Henry says, no one approach will stop COVID-19, we need to use all of our “layers of protection”.

Your K-12 Presidents Council committees continue to meet with the provincial government regarding COVID-19 and how it relates to K-12.

In safety and solidarity,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View PDF.

Local surveys coming soon

As part of the Provincial Support Staff Framework Agreement, CUPE and BCPSEA on behalf of the K-12 Presidents Council, have developed two surveys to be distributed within the next week:

Joint Health and Safety survey

Responses to the Joint Health and Safety survey will inform further work of the Health and Safety Taskforce. This survey will be completed by a support staff member (the local support staff union may identify a support staff individual) as well as a representative from management (who serves on the school/site JHSC).

Support Staff Education Committee survey

The Support Staff Education Committee (SSEC) survey responses will help define priorities for, and interest in, support staff training and upgrading. This survey will help inform the work of the SSEC over the next two years.

District remote learning survey
(Transition Program)

On January 8, districts will be given access to a survey about the current state of district transition programs created for families not ready to send students back for full-time
in-class instruction.

We also need to know how many K-12 Presidents Council members are working remotely.  We are asking local presidents to contact their districts to find out how many members are working remotely with students.

Please email this information to your coordinators and copy K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams.

Federal grant money being released to districts

According to a B.C. Government media release on December 21, K-12 COVID-19 funding is being used to hire additional staff and increase cleaning in schools throughout B.C.

“We know this funding is making a tremendous difference for students and staff, keeping our schools open and supporting our safety plans during the pandemic,” said Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside.

New positions created include:

  • 252 educational assistants and 228,491 more staff hours
  • 403 additional custodial staff and 575,885 more staff hours
  • 244 additional staff including
    bus drivers and 202,744 more staff hours

We will continue to advocate that these additional staff and hours be maintained after COVID-19 has ended.

K-12 Follow Up to December 14th Webinar

Greetings,

We want to extend our thanks to all who were able to join the December 14th Webinar. We hope the information was helpful to you.

As you are likely aware, the first COVID-19 vaccines have reached BC.  While we still have a long way to go, we are now entering the beginning of the end of this pandemic.

All information contained in this email is from public sources, and may be distributed to members or posted on your websites.

The targets the government has set include the K-12 sector in the second priority group, although some may have access to it earlier than that.  You can see the government’s projected schedule here.

We heard a number of questions put forward to Dr. Gustafson around the actual vaccine and what we know about it. Below is some helpful information.

https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/publications/diseases-conditions/what-you-need-to-know-covid-19-vaccine/what-you-need-to-know-covid-19-vaccine-eng.pdf

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released recommendations on key populations for early vaccination. This includes guidance on who will get COVID-19 vaccines first. The recommendations include:

  • Residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors such as long-term care homes
  • Adults 70 years of age and older, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older, then decreasing the age limit by 5-year increments to age 70 years as supply becomes available
  • Health care workers (including all those who work in health care settings and personal support workers whose work involves direct contact with patients)
  • Adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences

For those with concerns regarding the vaccine, we can only address it by referring you to the BC government’s website (link is above).  We have understood that, at this time, there is not any indication that this will be made mandatory.

Meanwhile, even for those who have received the vaccination, the PHO orders will remain in effect.  We also know that until our sector has access to the vaccination, there will continue to be risk, and advise you to remain vigilant in keeping yourselves and others safe by maintaining physical distancing where possible and wearing a mask. Please report to your local and health and safety representatives in cases where safety plans are not being followed and enforced.

WorkSafe

Please see the attached resources from our OH&S Rep, Brother Tom McKenna.  They are approved for distribution to members and can be found on www.bcschools.cupe.ca .

Your dedication to students and each other has been well noted; we cannot applaud you enough for this.  We need to keep up our safety measures, and ask our employers to update their safety plans as needed.  We are now able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but only once the majority of the population have been vaccinated can we expect to see a significant reduction in the safety protocols and measures imposed by the Provincial Health Officer.

Fact sheet and guide to filing WorkSafeBC claims during COVID and compiled resource list.

Chris Losito and Jeanne Marr

K-12 Co-Coordinators

Bulletin #43 – Ensuring application and enforcement of K-12 COVID-19 Safety Plans

On May 14, 2020, the Provincial Health Officer issued an order requiring all employers to post a copy of their Workplace COVID-19 Safety Plan at their worksite and, where applicable, on their website.

The order states that the COVID-19 Safety Plan must be “readily available for review by
workers, other persons who may attend at the workplace to provide services and members of the public.”

Joint Health & Safety Committee role and upcoming survey

A COVID-19 Safety Plan has been developed for every school. Your workplace site or district Joint Health and Safety Committee(s) has a critical role in enforcing the COVID-19 Safety Plan, preventing and investigating violence in the workplace, and keeping you safe while at work.

In order to support CUPE worker representatives in their important role on Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC), we will be circulating a provincial Health and Safety survey in January. This survey comes from the provincial joint Health & Safety Taskforce negotiated in the Provincial Framework Agreement.

View PDF

bcschools.cupe.ca
On social media:
@cupek12bc

 

Bulletin #42 – COVID-19 school closures, exposures, isolation and quarantine

CUPE is aware of school districts requiring our members to take sick time or unpaid time during periods of COVID-19 school closures and when required to isolate or quarantine due to possible exposure.

This is not okay.

In any of these circumstances, CUPE supports our members continuing to receive their full compensation. Casual/spareboard employees should continue to receive pay and benefits based on an average of earnings over the preceding weeks.

Employers consistently say that sick time is only to be used in cases of illness or injury, so for school districts to require the misuse of sick time (either paid or unpaid) now, is totally unacceptable.

Please notify your CUPE local and National Representative if your district fails to provide wage and benefit continuity in these circumstances.

Your K-12 Coordinators have already communicated our expectations to the Ministry of Education. We will continue to do so, and will identify problem school districts, so that we can stop this short-sighted practice.
This is a matter of public health. If needed, we will make the case to public health, BCPSEA and the Ministry that immediate intervention is required.

Exposure and illness

If a member is sick, the time that the member is absent should be coded as sick leave, with the following exceptions:

  1. i) In the event of an exposure to COVID-19 at work, the member should submit a Form 6 to WorkSafeBC and report the exposure to their workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee.
  2. ii) If a member tests positive for COVID-19 they should submit a WorkSafeBC claim regardless of reported
    exposure in their workplace.

We want public health to give early notification of exposures at schools in all health regions and the First Nations Health Authority—similar to what Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health are now doing—and are working towards that end.

 

The following information is from the Deputy Minister of Health update bulletin on New Provincial COVID-19 Restrictions for K-12 (December 4).

Have any changes been made to daily health check requirements?

  • employers are required to take an ‘active’ position on ensuring health checks are completed versus a ‘passive’ position such as displaying a poster

Does the new provincial order requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces apply to K-12 schools

  • directed to public spaces rather than workplaces and does not specifically reference schools

* new order applies to public spaces (indoor common areas) within office buildings, including board, Distributed Learning (DL) and school/district offices

Is physical distancing required while wearing masks?

  • Yes. Masks are not a substitute for physical distancing.
  • No social gatherings/congregating of employees allowed in any areas

We are working on a COVID-19 Safety Plan bulletin — coming to you early next week.

Links with latest information from PHO, WorkSafeBC and health regions are now on our home page above the news section.
bcschools.cupe.ca 

On social media: @cupek12bc

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