Bulletin #35 – Heath Regions

It is very concerning to see that COVID-19 outbreaks are now happening in B.C. schools.

It’s not unexpected because the virus is still in our communities, and that makes our schools vulnerable as well.

Every health region in B.C. provides information online about COVID-19 exposures and the protocols they follow when reporting them.

In all cases, public health will investigate, interview, and conduct contact tracing. If anyone has been identified as a COVID-19 case or close contact, public health will contact them directly to provide further instruction. Dr. Bonnie Henry advised that if a person has not been contacted by public health, they should continue to monitor themselves and go to school as they normally would.

Let’s all continue to follow the guidance of the PHO: practice physical distancing, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask when indoors if you cannot maintain physical distancing, and stay home if you don’t feel well.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

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Health regions cover the following school districts:

Click on health region to get information about protocols and the current COVID-19 school exposures by district.


SD 33 Chilliwack
SD 34 Abbotsford
SD 35 Langley
SD 36 Surrey
SD 37 Delta
SD 40 New Westminster
SD 41 Burnaby
SD 42 Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows
SD 43 Coquitlam
SD 75 Mission
SD 78 Fraser-Cascade
SD 93 Conseil scolaire francophone


SD 5 South East Kootenay
SD 6 Rocky Mountain
SD 8 Kootenay Lake
SD 10 Arrow Lakes
SD 19 Revelstoke
SD 20 Kootenay Columbia
SD 22 Vernon
SD 23 Central Okanagan
SD 27 Cariboo Chilcotin
SD 51 Boundary
SD 53 Okanagan Similkameen
SD 58 Nicola-Similkameen
SD 67 Okanagan Skaha
SD 73 Kamloops/Thompson
SD 74 Gold Trail
SD 83 Okanagan-North Shuswap
SD 93 Conseil scolaire francophone


SD 61 Greater Victoria
SD 62 Sooke
SD 63 Saanich
SD 64 Gulf Islands
SD 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith
SD 69 Qualicum
SD 70 Pacific Rim
SD 71 Comox Valley
SD 72 Campbell River
SD 79 Cowichan Valley
SD 84 Vancouver Island West
SD 85 Vancouver Island North


SD 28 Quesnel
SD 50 Haida Gwaii
SD 52 Prince Rupert
SD 54 Bulkley Valley
SD 57 Prince George
SD 59 Peace River South
SD 60 Peace River North
SD 81 Fort Nelson
SD 82 Coast Mountains
SD 87 Stikine
SD 91 Nechako Lakes
SD 92 Nisga’a


SD 38 Richmond
SD 39 Vancouver
SD 44 North Vancouver
SD 45 West Vancouver
SD 46 Sunshine Coast
SD 47 Powell River
SD 48 Sea to Sky
SD 49 Central Coast
SD 93 Conseil scolaire francophone

Bulletin #34 – Joint Provincial Committee Updates

The Provincial Framework Agreement includes four joint provincial committees that continue to meet.

The work of these joint committees is even more crucial during this pandemic. I would like to thank the committee chairs and members for their work. This bulletin includes highlights of committee reports.

The Presidents Council meeting was held on October 5th. The next meeting will be scheduled in May.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

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Health & Safety Taskforce
Committee Chair: Paul Simpson

The committee has held regular meetings to provide all K-12 members help with the first step in creating a safer work environment. Local site-based health and safety committees are the front line to report and address workplace safety and hazards. The committee has compiled a survey to allow us to assess and help promote mandatory WorkSafeBC regulations.

Locals will get information on how to ensure they provide us with the information needed to move ahead with these changes. The comprehensive assessment/ survey is intended for all CUPE site reps to fill out independently from management (administrators/principals). Both support staff and administrators at each site will be encouraged to do a survey. Each local will have the option to assist site reps where needed. Please contact the committee if you need any assistance.

Job Evaluation
Committee Chair: Warren Williams

The work of the joint JE Committee continues despite delays due to COVID. A second consultant was brought in to assist the JE plan and a sub-committee was struck to conduct a total review of the Plan.

The sub-committee compared provincial benchmarks to job descriptions and looked at how the first pilot project related to these descriptions.

The steering committee has met and started the review and selection of the locals and districts showing interest in the second pilot project. Once confirmed, plans have begun to have online training for these new groups. We are scheduled for monthly virtual meetings.

(Report by Rolanda Lavallee)

Provincial Labour Management
Committee Chair: Rob Zver

Three meetings were held over the last year. Terms of Reference were approved and numerous discussions included recruitment and retention and the impact on maintaining service levels, overall workload, and bus driver safety. There is movement on hiring a consultant to start the work of SSIRRE as laid out in the Provincial Framework Agreement.

Committee finances were reviewed and locals with unspent SSEAC allocations are encouraged to work with their districts as soon as possible. The committee would like to thank outgoing member Patti Price (CUPE 1091) for her guidance and commitment in helping them move forward, and welcomes Tammy Murphy (CUPE 728).

Support Staff Education
Committee Chair: Jane Massy

The work of the committee, as has much of our work, has been hijacked by Covid-19. Terms of Reference and a dispute resolution process were finalized. A report on the remaining funds and redistribution was received. There was some discussion on the previous SSEAC committee.

Committee plans were outlined in a bulletin issued in early March. The committee looked at modules that had been created to support EAs in their learning. Some modules need updating as they are too time-consuming to be accommodated during pro-D days.

The committee decided to survey locals before money for training is distributed. The last two meetings have been spent discussing what the survey will look like, working with our CUPE National researcher. The committee will be meeting again on October 27th and the survey will be coming out shortly.

Bulletin #33 – PHO K-12 Update

Our focus remains on keeping everyone in schools safe. If you are told to self-isolate by someone from provincial health, fill out a WorkSafeBC form.

WorkSafeBC information for workers can be found here.

All districts have safety plans but it’s crucial that every school also has a site committee. Contact your local if you don’t have a site committee at your workplace.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

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K-12 Update from Dr. Bonnie Henry

“Our public health teams have been there and done contact tracing and response for every single case that has been identified in any school…We are able to manage and determine every single exposure event: whether there has been transmission in the school setting; who has been close contacts; and making sure that those people have been isolated so that we break those chains of transmission.”
— PHO Dr. Bonnie Henry

SCHOOL EXPOSURE: when a single person confirmed positive for COVID-19 has been in the school during their infectious period.  Even if you have been in a school setting with someone who has COVID, you may not be a close contact. You may not be at risk of exposure yourself. Anybody who did have contact where the virus could have been transmitted, will be contacted by public health.

(Note: a cluster occurs when there is a concentration of infections in the same area at the same time.)

CONTACT TRACERS: Every time there is an exposure, contact tracers kick into gear. They know what type of contact puts somebody at risk of COVID-19 exposure. If somebody has been unfortunately exposed to a large enough dose of the virus, there’s nothing that can be done to prevent them from getting sick.

SELF MONITORING: If people don’t have close contact, we ask them to monitor – to do the things that we have in place in all schools – to monitor closely, stay away if we’re sick, to keep those distances when appropriate, and to wear masks when appropriate.

OUTBREAK: when we have ongoing transmission and we’re not clear who has been transmitting to who and there’s widespread transmission in the school or between learning groups or groups. We have not yet had any outbreaks in our schools.

Watch Dr. Bonnie’s update on October 1, beginning at 2:17.

You can watch the October 5 update here, starting at 5:53.

Chart: Most Students with Symptoms do not have COVID-19

Bulletin #32 – What is the difference between the Flu & COVID-19?

More information on the flu and COVID-19 is available online at the Centre for Disease Control (cdc.gov) and the BC Centre for Disease Control (bccdc.ca).

Links are also on our website at bcschools.cupe.ca. Please check the site regularly for updates and more information.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
President, K-12 Presidents Council, Local 9876

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Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.  Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.

Signs & Symptoms

Similarities: Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea

Differences: Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed above. COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.

How long symptoms appear after exposure and infection

Similarities: For both COVID-19 and flu, 1 or more days can pass between a person becoming infected and when he or she starts to experience illness symptoms.

Differences: If a person has COVID-19, it could take them longer to develop symptoms than if they had flu. Typically, a person develops flu symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection. For COVID-19 typically a person develops symptoms 5 days after being infected, but symptoms can appear as early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection, and the time range can vary.

How long can someone spread each virus

Similarities: For both COVID-19 and flu, it’s possible to spread the virus for at least 1 day before experiencing any symptoms.

Differences: If a person has COVID-19, they may be contagious for a longer period of time than if they had flu. Most people with flu are contagious for about 1 day before they show symptoms. How long someone can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 is still under investigation.

It’s possible for people to spread the virus for about 2 days before experiencing signs or symptoms and remain contagious for at least 10 days after signs or symptoms first appeared. If someone is asymptomatic or their symptoms go away, it’s possible to remain contagious for at least 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19.

How they spread

Similarities: Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 2 meters). Both are spread mainly by droplets made when people with the illness (COVID-19 or flu) cough, sneeze, or talk.

Differences: While COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than flu. Also, COVID-19 has been observed to have more superspreading events than flu. This means the virus that causes COVID-19 can quickly and easily spread to a lot of people and result in continuous spreading among people as time progresses.


Similarities: Both COVID-19 and flu can result in complications, including:

  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (i.e. fluid in lungs)
  • Sepsis
  • Cardiac injury (e.g. heart attacks and stroke)
  • Multiple-organ failure
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions
  • Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues
  • Secondary bacterial infections

Differences: Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications. Additional complications associated with COVID-19 can include: Blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart, legs or brain.

Source: Centre for Disease Control

Bulletin #31 – Contact tracing in K-12 schools

Contact tracing is a vital tool in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and communities. It helps people get diagnosed earlier and reduces the chances they’ll spread it to others. The BC
Centre for Disease Control and Provincial Health Services Authority have set out the step-by-step process being used for contact tracing across the province. For more information on contact tracing – including an accessible video and infographic explaining the process – visit bccdc.ca, and links are posted on bcschools.cupe.ca.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
President, K-12 Presidents Council, Local 9876














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Bulletin #30 – Responding to COVID-19 cases at school

It is important to take appropriate action if students or staff become sick at school. The flowchart below shows what you should do in these situations. More comprehensive guidance is also available in the Work Safe BC K-12 protocols, available online at worksafebc.com, and linked on our website at bcschools.cupe.ca. Please check our site regularly for more information and updates.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
President, K-12 Presidents Council, Local 9876

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Source: Centre for Disease Control, September 1, 2020.

Bulletin #29 – Orange Shirt Day: honouring residential school survivors on September 30th

As a young girl, Phyllis Jack Webstad was gifted a new orange shirt by her grandmother before she was taken to a B.C. residential school. On her first day of classes, the shirt was confiscated and destroyed by a teacher.

Phyllis’ story has come to symbolize the trauma and abuse suffered by thousands of Survivors of the church-run government mandated residential schools. Generations of Survivors have similar stories of being torn from family, community, language and culture.

Inspired by Phyllis’ story, people now wear Orange Shirts on annually on September 30th. It is the time of year when Indigenous children were taken from their homes to residential schools. Today, it is a time for us all to set the stage for the coming school year to address anti-Indigenous racism and the ongoing legacy of colonialism in BC and across Canada.

Wearing an orange shirt is our way to honour those who survived residential schools and remember those that didn’t. It’s an opportunity to listen, keep discussions on all aspects of residential schools open, learn and understand.

I hope you will join CUPE members across Canada in wearing an orange shirt on September 30th and take some time to reflect on responsibilities to fostering reconciliation in our schools, our communities and in our union.

In solidarity & safety,

Warren Williams
President, K-12 Presidents Council, Local 9876


Orange Shirt Day Resources

Learn more about Orange Shirt Day, listings for events in your area, and more about Phyllis Jack Webstad’s story at orangeshirtday.org.

CUPE’s Walking the Talk: a practical guide to reconciliation for CUPE locals is available online at cupe.ca. This guide provides CUPE locals and members with key resources to better acknowledge and include Indigenous members in our union, and to help locals and members take concrete action towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (nctr.ca) the permanent home for all statements, documents, and other materials gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It has an extensive collection of education resources on the legacy of residential schools. The NCTR is also hosting Every Child Matters, an online event for youth grades 5-12 on September 30, 2020.

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Bulletin #28 – Updated public health guidance for K-12 schools

As we return to classrooms and adapt to our new normal, the BC Centre for Disease Control has updated its public health guidance for K-12 settings.

These updates reflect lessons learned over the past few months to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 and maintain a safe and healthy school environment for students, families and staff.

Below you will find a summary of the most significant updates. Links to the complete document can be found at bcschools.cupe.ca. Please check the site regularly for more information and updates.

In solidarity & safety,

Warren Williams
President, K-12 Presidents Council, Local 9876

  • Updated information on public health actions required when a confirmed case(s) of COVID-19 affects a school, and information on contact tracing and managing clusters (pg. 6-7, Appendix B)
  • Updated guidance on physical distancing (pg. 10)
  • Updated guidance for staff or students experiencing symptoms of illness, and outlines what should be done before returning to class (pg. 15-17, Appendix C).
  • New sections have been added concerning;
    • Ventilation and air exchange (pg. 8)
    • Water stations and fountains (pg. 18)
    • Personal items and school supplies (pg. 18)
  • A new Appendix D (pg. 24) provides additional guidance for school meal programs, breakfast clubs and other food access initiatives.

The guidance document has also updated the roles of Medical Health Officers and school health officers (pg. 1-4). The complete document can be found in the BCCDC website school section and linked at bcschools.cupe.ca.

Reminder: Any news media calls or inquiries regarding possible COVID-19 exposures or cases, as identified in the Operational Guidelines for K-12, should be directed to your local regional health authority.  Thank you.

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Bulletin #27 – We will miss you, Sister Kristine

Kristine worked as a child and youth care worker in School District #20 (Kootenay-Columbia). This 2017 photo in which she appears with Taya, daughter of CUPE 1285 member Tammy Cox, was taken shortly after Kristine became president of CUPE 1285.

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of CUPE National Servicing Representative Kristine Taggart. Kristine passed away at home in Sylvan Lake, Alberta on September 10.

Kristine was living and working in Red Deer, Alberta as a CUPE National Staff Representative. Previously, she serviced the B.C. Region out of the B.C. Regional Office and worked in various sectors including K-12, in which she served briefly as servicing rep for CUPE 728.

Prior to her work on CUPE staff, Kristine was president of CUPE Local 1285 (SD20 / Kootenay-Columbia). She served her local for many years in many capacities, including chief shop steward, before becoming president.

Known for her big-hearted kindness, her sense of humour and her solid commitment to members, Kristine will be fondly remembered in B.C. by all who came into contact with her.

Kristine will be dearly missed by so many. We send our sincerest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.

In Solidarity & Safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

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Bulletin #26 – Welcome back


I hope everyone had a good week and that orientations went smoothly. If issues come up around safety or a concern with the district’s safety plan, contact your site health and safety committee representative. Site committees can bring issues to the district joint health and safety committee for further action. Please continue to visit bcschools.cupe.ca as we will update information as it changes.

In solidarity and safety, 

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President


Site safety committee members are the eyes and ears of safety for their specific site. Get to know who your CUPE site contact is. They know their workplace and gather information to provide to their local’s joint health and safety committee. Site safety committee members are crucial during the pandemic to give feedback if the district safety plan and site safety plans need to be modified as we move through the fall and winter. If they see anything unsafe at work, they need to bring it to their local’s joint health and safety committee.

Sherri Kreklau
CUPE 716 (Richmond)

It’s harder to work because we have to socially distance. We constantly sanitize our hands and equipment. Safety protocols are definitely more involved. Things have changed, and we’re really careful. We do our utmost to keep everyone safe.

Our work is even more important now, because the outdoors is being utilized more at schools — especially the fields. The fields are considered an outdoor classroom, a place where students play, learn, and exercise. It takes a lot of work to keep these grounds safe and functioning properly. Playing fields, particularly the sport fields, require a great deal of horticultural work to ensure that students can be out there on living grass instead of mud. We’re proud of our work and happy to see this.

Richard Prevost
CUPE 606 (Nanaimo/Ladysmith)

I started back a couple of weeks ago.  The school was clean, and we’re all aware of our roles. We modelled our re-opening on the district health and safety plan. We’re a little different than elementary schools, but I think we have a pretty good plan in place. The kids are resilient and will pick it up. I know that the staff has.

Things seem to be going smoothly. I enjoy my work and having the kids back. I deal with student records and assist with the scheduling. We have lots of new staff, and learning and teaching new things keeps me coming back.

Becky Rousseau
CUPE 440 (Golden)

We’re pretty much always helping someone. The work itself might not be super glamourous, but I always feel appreciated. We had been investing in online tools for the last couple of years and had Microsoft Teams rolling before the pandemic. We had to step up training and support.

With schools being open, there’s less training but there’s always computers to fix. In our district, each IT worker supports five or six schools – we provide consistency. If the teacher has a lesson plan that involves the computer, it will actually work. They can rely on the technology when they plan an online lesson or a virtual field trip.

Kyle Clark
CUPE 523 (Okanagan/Shuswap)

We were so happy to open the school to our kids and the kids were happy. Children are actually very intelligent. Once they are shown and taught how things have changed for them, for their safety, they’re very good about it.

We did a lot of things to remind them of what social distancing looks like. Yesterday we showed all of our kids how to properly wash their hands, so it becomes a healthy habit. The kids get it. They know they need to wash their hands, to sanitize, to give people space.

Our school district is working hard to make schools a safe environment.

Patty Astorino
CUPE 3742 (Prince George)

Kids spend most of their day in school so you want to keep it clean so that they enjoy being there. This pandemic has been a nightmare. My biggest worry is that we won’t have enough time to keep the school clean and safe. My kids go to school, too. I want all kids to be safe and I’ll try to do whatever it takes to keep school safe. Today was the first day kids were back—that’s the best thing! They’re learning and doing what they are supposed to do—be kids and go to school to learn. If kids don’t go to school and learn, everything is pointless. They are our future and will build our country. We need to keep schools safe for our kids.

Houman Anasory
CUPE 1851 (Langley)

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