FAQs updated

Please note that we have added an additional question (#36) under the FAQ category of health and safety as we were still getting many questions from members on masks and face shields.

36.  Will staff have access to masks and face shields?

Bulletin #22 – COVID-19 FAQ #6

As we get ready for the September 8 return to schools, it seems as though this summer has flown by.

Please ensure that both your site health and safety committee and your joint health and safety committee have a copy of your district’s safety plan.

We’ll continue to provide updates as we get new information.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

Health and safety

32. What are the different types of health and safety committees?

33. Will clerical get plexiglass dividers?

34. How does air circulation affect COVID-19?


35. What personal items can I bring to work?

View PDF.


Province approves all K-12 safety plans

Education Minister Rob Fleming announced this afternoon that all K-12 safety plans have been approved. Most safety plans, which required input from CUPE locals, are now available for review on individual district web sites.

CUPE members will be returning to schools on September 8 for orientation on the safety plans. The plans will be monitored and adapted as needed to ensure safety for students and staff throughout the evolving situation of the pandemic.

In addition to health and safety measures, the plans include:

  • how learning groups will be organized;
  • when masks are required;
  • daily schedules for classes, lunch and recess;
  • daily health assessment requirements;
  • pick-up and drop off times;
  • protocols for common areas;
  • hand washing directions;
  • orientation information.

School districts will contact all families to confirm if they are planning for their child to attend school classes in September, or if they need alternative learning options such as remote learning.

Minister Fleming talked about additional funding through the Province as well as the federal funding announced today.

The government release notes that while schools may look different in different communities, all school districts are also required to follow operational guidelines developed by a provincial steering committee made up of parents, teachers, support workers, Indigenous rightsholders, school leaders and trustees. School districts were also required to consult local First Nations on the development of their plans.

“There is no better place than in-class learning. With these plans now in place, parents can feel confident about sending their children back to school and assured that strict health and safety measures are in place to protect students and staff.” — Education Minister Rob Fleming

$2B in federal funding for K-12 Restart

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced more than $2 billion in federal funding to help provinces and territories re-open schools safely. The money can be used to help adapt learning spaces, improve air ventilation, increase hand sanitation and hygiene, and buy additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies. The funding is being allocated based on the number of children aged four to 18 years old in each province and territory, with a $2 million base amount for each jurisdiction. B.C. is allocated $242.4 million.

According to a CBC report, Trudeau said that the money is meant only to top up provincial resources and comes with no strings attached.

Read the government release here.

View PDF of the bulletin here.

Bulletin #20 – FAQ #5

As we head into the last two weeks of summer, I hope members have been enjoying time with family and staying safe.

The deadline for districts to provide their safety plans to the government was August 21. All locals should have a copy of the safety plans for their district.

According to the K-12 Education Restart Plan, the Ministry will review all plans and confirm school district approaches. School districts and schools are expected to post final versions of plans online on August 26.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President


Health and safety

  1. What are PPE requirements for first aid attendants?
  2. Why aren’t non-medical masks recommended to be worn in schools at all times?
  3. Will there be a tracking system in place for visitors to schools?

Learning groups

  1. How does physical distancing work in learning groups?


  1. Can we get a breakdown of how the $45.6 million for K-12 will be allocated?

View PDF.

FAQs updated

Please note that responses to questions 11, 12, 14 and 18 have been updated to reflect updated information in the Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines as of August 17, 2020. Links to current documents are provided at the end of the questions listed on the home page.

CUPE BC applauds first steps to sick pay, but joins with CUPE National’s call for federal government to do better

BURNABY – Today’s announcement from the federal government extending economic assistance to Canadians makes some important first steps toward a national sick leave plan for workers, and provides some degree of comfort to working people that there will be up to two weeks of federal economic assistance if they are forced to self-isolate and are unable to work from home. While many questions remain unanswered, it’s an improvement on the current situation. CUPE will be providing more information and details as we receive them.

To learn more about how the federal government could—and should—improve economic supports for workers during the pandemic, read this important news release from CUPE National.


K-12 operational guidelines updated August 17

School districts have received updated operational guidelines for K-12. Updates include mandatory masks for staff and students in middle and high schools in high traffic areas such as buses and common areas (hallways) or anytime outside their learning group whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained. The guidelines also include increased cleaning of high contact surfaces, increased hand hygiene and installation of transparent barriers where appropriate.

The updated guidelines can be found here.

Bulletin #19 – FAQ #4

Schools will re-open on September 8–11, with days in place for support staff and others in the school to familiarize themselves with procedures before students start back.

New health and safety measures need to be put in place. Districts must submit safety plans to government by August 21. Locals should be meeting with districts now to give input on plans.

The restart steering committee continues to meet throughout the summer.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

Find all FAQs at bcschools.cupe.ca

Health and safety

On July 22, 2020 the WorkSafeBC board of directors passed the changes adding a presumption for communicable viral pathogens to the Workers Compensation Act. Bill 23 was made law on August 14.

21.  What does a “presumption” of workplace causation mean?

22.  What exactly is changing?

23.  Will members who contract COVID-19 at work have access to Workers Compensation?

24.  Do districts have to follow provincial standards for cleaning or the guidelines from the PHO?

25.  What are the protocols for the public and others coming into schools?


26.  Is the K-12 Presidents Council working with teachers to support each other and increase our abili­ty to work safely and effectively?

View PDF.

Phased-in approach to re-opening schools a solid plan—CUPE BC

BURNABY—CUPE BC and the CUPE K-12 Presidents Council welcome Education Minister Rob Fleming’s announcement today that schools will re-open the week of September 8–11 as scheduled, with orientation days in place for support staff, teachers and other workers in schools to familiarize themselves with procedures before students return to classrooms on September 10.

“The number one goal of the restart plan is to open schools safely for all—students, and everyone who works in our schools. The details announced this morning will help ensure that all K-12 workers will understand how schools will operate in the ‘new normal,’” said CUPE BC President Paul Faoro.  “All stakeholders generally support this phased-in approach.”

Faoro noted the importance of following the health and safety guidance of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry as schools reopen. “Dr. Henry and her public health team will keep a close eye on what’s happening, and plans may change as needed.”

CUPE K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams said that it’s important for locals and districts to work together to develop safety plans. “Safety plans are paramount for the K-12 Restart,” said Williams. “Time is short and this step is crucial for a safe opening for students and staff.”

CUPE BC represents 100,000 workers delivering important public services in nearly every community in the province.  The K-12 Presidents Council is comprised of presidents from 57 K-12 locals, representing 30,000 support staff in schools throughout B.C.

Bulletin #18 – FAQ #3

We have received questions on many topics including: the impact on family bubbles with multiple children in different learning groups; WorkSafeBC coverage for COVID; and what happens in a family if their child’s learning group is quarantined.

CUPE and the K-12 Presidents Council continue to seek answers and clarity on many issues from government and the PHO. We will include them in upcoming FAQs as we get information.

Please visit bcschools.cupe.ca for the most updated COVID-19 questions at the top of our home page. The numbered questions are listed in the following four categories: duty to accommodate, learning groups, health and safety, and other.


In safety and solidarity,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

Find all FAQs at bcschools.cupe.ca

Learning groups (cohorts)

16. Can you explain how physical distancing works in learning groups?

17.  What safety plans are being put into place when staff from outside a learning group enter the group?

Health and safety

18. What PPE will EAs have access to when working with complex-needs children, who have a tendency to spit or bite?

19. Will every district be required to have a safety plan in place before school starts?


20.  Are there enough trained custodians to meet the requirements for cleaning schools as set out by the PHO?

View PDF.