View a PDF of this update here.
Information on physical (social) distancing and some COVID-19 definitions from CUPE National Health and Safety Representative Tom McKenna.
The COVID-19 situation continues to change rapidly and we are all working to respond effectively and quickly, not only in terms of public health, but also to best support our members and provide information on actions being taken by the B.C. government and school districts.
Each district is developing their own plan for continuity of learning and a safety plan to keep students and staff safe.
As we get more information over the coming days, we will post it on our K-12 web site bcschools.cupe.ca. Please check this site regularly for the latest information.
As many of us are working under unusual circumstances and not seeing colleagues every day, it becomes even more important that we stay connected. Be kind to yourself and to each other.
We all must continue to follow the orders of B.C. Health Officer Bonnie Henry.
Warren Williams, K-12 Presidents Council President
What can I expect when I go back to work next week?
The K-12 Presidents Council had a Webinar with presidents Wednesday night (March 25) and we heard from three districts that returned to work this week. They reported that district safety plans are in place with different approaches taken in terms of staff return. One district is staggering start times and redeploying staff, one district is considering this first week a planning week and is working closely with their CUPE local. A third district surveyed members collaboratively with the local to learn what concerns they had and if they had the necessary resources to work from home. Check with your district as there are many other various scenarios out there.
What type of safety procedures are in place to keep support staff safe?
The Ministry of Education and the provincial government, working with the Provincial Health Officer, have advised school districts to develop procedures to ensure schools continue to follow the highest standard of cleaning practices; promote and support physical distancing; and control access to buildings to limit exposure. If you haven’t received information from your school district, please contact your Local.
Will I get the $2000 per month from the federal government?
The Canada Revenue Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) of $2000 per month for up to four months is available for workers who need support because they are facing unemployment. These funds are not available for employees who are getting paid.
The Premier has assured K-12 workers that if they were normally returning to work following spring break they will get paid (with the exception of on-call and auxiliary workers).
Can I refuse to go back to work because it’s unsafe?
Please see this FAQ on COVID-19 and the Right to Refuse Unsafe Work in B.C. Please note that this is general information and there are some exceptions to the regulations. The Provincial Health officer is working on a safety plan for child care and has directed safety plans for K-12 schools.
What will happen to my benefits?
As per the March 20 letter from the Public Sector Employers’ Council Secretariat (PSEC), the continuation of wages and benefits for our members in K-12 will continue until the end of April and will be reviewed before that date is reached.
Read the FAQ prepared by CUPE National Health and Safety Representative Tom McKenna. Please note that this is general information and there are some exceptions to the regulations.
The British Columbia Ministry of Education is working to support a coordinated approach to COVID-19. The Ministry has developed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with the latest developments and will continue to update them.
Please read this bulletin from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams.
There have been many conversations with CUPE, Government and BCPSEA around ensuring wages, benefits and safety for our members during this pandemic.
Please find below the email from BCPSEA and the attached letter from Government outlining that its Governments expectation that pay will continue through March and April for employees whose work would not otherwise have been interrupted, save for the pandemic response.
CUPE will continue regular discussions with Government and BCPSEA and we will provide you updates as we receive them.
In Solidarity and safety,
President K-12 Presidents Council, Local 9876
Email from BCPSEA:
This e-mail was sent to Superintendents, Secretary Treasurers, HR Directors, BCPSEA Trustee Representatives, Management Associations
We have this afternoon received confirmation (attached) from the Public Sector Employers’ Council (PSEC) Secretariat regarding the provincial government’s expectation/direction with respect to wage and job continuity for public sector employees arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As school districts prepare their plans for continuity of learning, it is government’s expectation that pay will continue through the months of March and April “for employees whose work would not otherwise have been interrupted save for the pandemic response.” This expectation/direction will be reviewed by government prior to the end of April and updates issued as available.
Layoffs are to be avoided unless previously contemplated/planned or unless it’s clear that the specific circumstances can’t be mitigated. Information with respect to casual employees will follow.
There are many questions that arise from this direction including, for example, who is required to attend at work and potential re-deployment of staff who may be needed to perform a job other than their current job.
We are in the process of arranging conversations with representatives of the BC Teachers’ Federation, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and other support staff unions in the sector to seek their agreement/cooperation to the best extent possible with respect to these questions. Once we have had those conversations, which we are trying to arrange as quickly as possible, we will provide a further update.
Where eligible, districts may issue Records of Employment to employees as per normal practice.
We trust that this will assist in sharing information with your employees and easing concerns that we understand are being expressed regarding continuity of work and pay.
Renzo Del Negro Chief Executive Officer BCPSEA
The following information is for K-12 members in response to the COVID -19 pandemic.
Public Education Benefits Trust (PEBT)
The attached pdf regarding the Public Education Benefits Trust (PEBT) includes the following information:
- Who is eligible for Core Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits?
- Who may not be eligible for LTD benefits?
- Where can I get more information about my benefits?
- What other supports are available?
( www.pebt.ca )
Pacific Blue Cross (PBC)
K-12 extended health and dental benefits are provided through Pacific Blue Cross (PBC). PBC created an info sheet on COVID-19 with responses to questions about disability coverage and how they are handling claims and benefits. ( https://www.pac.bluecross.ca/covid19/ )
Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits are available to provide income replacement for those unable to work because of illness, injury, or quarantine. Quarantined Canadians can apply for EI sickness benefits and the typical requirement to provide a medical certificate is being waived. The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim. Service Canada’s dedicated toll-free support number is 1-833-381-2725 and information is available here.
If you are eligible, visit the EI sickness benefits page to apply.
Information from CUPE National
This pdf has information from CUPE National on income assistance available to workers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Premier John Horgan announced yesterday that in-class instruction has been suspended indefinitely in all B.C. schools to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
CUPE, along with other stakeholders in education, have been involved in discussions with our provincial government around school closures and what that will look like for our members. We have also been in discussion with BCPSEA and tabled our urgency to find agreement on the continuation of wages and benefits for our members in K-12. We haven’t heard back from BCPSEA and we will notify you immediately when we do.
Please read this bulletin from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams.
Read a letter to parents, guardians and staff from Minister Rob Fleming.
Here is an article from the Georgia Straight on school closures: https://www.straight.com/news/1373241/bc-says-k-12-students-stay-home-school-until-worst-coronavirus-has-passed