Bulletin #40 – A warm welcome to Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside

We warmly welcome Minister Whiteside and look forward to working with her to support and expand the critical work CUPE members provide.

As CUPE members throughout B.C. continue to go above and beyond to keep schools open during this pandemic, we are now working with a majority government committed to protecting and enhancing public services.

In the mandate letter to Minister Whiteside, Premier Horgan has asked the ministry to continue their foundational principles to put people first; equity and anti-racism; achieve B.C.’s climate goals; and support a strong and stable economy that works for everyone.

Specific to K-12, the letter also calls for progress to be made in public education. The mandate lists 11 items that include the following:

  • safety guidelines to ensure quality public education continues during and after the pandemic
  • prioritizing universal access to before- and after-school care on school grounds
  • more mental health supports for students and staff

The K-12 Presidents Council and CUPE will continue to work with the ministry and the employer association on all priorities of our K-12 members including:

  1. Reinforcing members’ health
    and safety
  2. Establishing province-wide Job Evaluation
  3. More consistency and hours for EAs
  4. Permanent day-time custodians

On behalf of our 30,000 members who support K-12 across B.C., the K-12 Presidents Council warmly welcomes Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside.

Premier John Horgan appointed former HEU secretary-business manager and chief spokesperson Jennifer Whiteside as Minister of Education yesterday.

Jennifer has a strong record of defending workers’ rights and championing social justice issues at all levels. She replaces Minister Rob Fleming who has moved to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

I would like to thank outgoing Minister Fleming for his respect and recognition of the important services CUPE members provide, and for his work on behalf of support staff, students and parents in the midst of this challenging pandemic.

We look forward to working together with Minister Whiteside as we continue our work on member safety, continuation of pay during school closures, increased hours for EAs, maintaining day-time custodians, and the many other issues in K-12.

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

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Bulletin #39 – CUPE Roles and EAs

We have been getting questions from members about an EA Standards of Practice Working Group Survey. This is not a CUPE working group, nor has CUPE endorsed the work of this working group. CUPE has had no part in this survey.

This bulletin explains the roles that CUPE fulfils for members in K-12, and specifically what that means for EAs.

CUPE National Reps, Specialist Reps and Sector Co-ordinators support locals in bargaining and enforcing collective agreements.

CUPE continues to make gains for Education Assistants

Provincial Agreement

Once the K-12 Presidents Council ratifies the provincial framework agreement (PFA), it forms part of local agreements that K-12 locals negotiate with their respective school boards.

All K-12 members, including Education Assistants, receive 2 percent annual wage and benefit increases. These will continue until the collective agreement expires in 2022.

The PFA also includes a process to help reduce workplace violence—a priority for EAs and for CUPE. Targeted funding specific to EAs was negotiated and a Provincial Joint Job
Evaluation Project is underway. This is one step toward getting consistency of job descriptions and compensation.

Democracy in action

CUPE takes direction from members at convention; through member surveys; from ongoing communication with CUPE’s autonomous K-12 locals; and through the Presidents Council.

A resolution passed at convention called for CUPE BC to lobby the provincial government to implement a system of recognized credentials and qualifications to regulate training for EAs.

The K-12 Presidents Council, CUPE BC and CUPE National are continuing this work through discussions with government and our presence on negotiated provincial committees.

CUPE BC is currently advocating for the creation of more spaces to train EAs in public post-secondary institutions.

Issues and Advocacy

Because standards of practice and training vary widely between districts—creating unfair differences in qualifications for similar employment and barriers for members to transfer employment to another district— over 86 per cent of EAs would like to see training standardized in their field.

EAs deserve to have whole jobs. The K-12 Presidents Council and CUPE have consistently lobbied and negotiated with government and the employers to increase funding to provide EAs with full-time hours.

As the number of children who need enhanced support has increased in schools, CUPE BC has lobbied for more direct support to those students.

In addition to bargaining support and ensuring contracts are followed, CUPE advocates, lobbies and recommends policy changes. CUPE has always championed inclusive education.

We will update you about our ongoing work through bulletins at bcschools.cupe.ca and via social media @cupek12bc on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


K-12 Presidents Council

The K-12 Presidents Council represents more than 30,000 K-12 support workers in B.C. The Council’s elected bargaining committee negotiates a provincial framework agreement with BCPSEA that covers common issues and wage increases.


CUPE BC acts as a political voice for CUPE locals. The Division has consistently and strongly advocated for additional K-12 funding for decades, and has specifically called for improvements for EAs including standardized training and increased hours of work. CUPE BC does not have a seat on the K-12 Presidents Council and does not bargain or negotiate.

CUPE National

CUPE National and its chartered locals represent K-12 support workers including Education Assistants, School Secretaries, Custodians, Indigenous Support Workers, IT Workers, Trades and Maintenance Workers, Bus Drivers, and Strong Start Facilitators. The National provides bargaining support to locals and helps ensure contracts are followed.

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Bulletin #38 – New PHO orders

“We are in our second surge and it’s proving to be a challenge…We need to relieve the stress on our health care system right now…We need to keep our essential activities and services open and operating safely. We need to keep our schools open and operating safely.”

— PHO Dr. Bonnie Henry

New orders put in place

B.C. is now experiencing a surge in the pandemic with increased community transmission, outbreaks, and effects on our health care system in every health authority. PHO Dr. Bonnie
Henry has now applied the regional orders to Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health province-wide.

New expanded orders have been put in place, effective until midnight December 7 to ensure that we get through one to two incubation periods. The PHO will regularly review progress and wants to see a slowing down of transmission.

Reduced social activities in homes and outside

The orders call for no social gatherings in homes other than with those who live there and to reduce social interactions of any size outside of our homes. Those who live alone can spend time with one or two people if they regularly spend time with them. All indoor and outdoor events are not allowed to take place until further notice.

Masks now mandatory for all indoor public and retail settings, but not in schools

The PHO has made clear that wearing masks is one of the ways we can prevent transmissions, along with practicing physical distancing, washing our hands and staying away from others if not feeling well. The PHO has asked the Minister of Public Safety to issue a requirement to wear masks for all indoor public and retail spaces for staff and customers, except when eating or drinking.

This requirement does not apply to anyone who is unable to put on or take off a mask on their own, to children under the age of two, or to schools. Schools are not considered open public spaces as members of the public cannot just walk into a school. We have layers of protection in schools as defined by safety plans.

The existing protocols and guidelines in the COVID-19 Operational Guidelines and the Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings remain in effect.

We recognize that our members face many challenges in the face of this continuing pandemic. Dr. Bonnie Henry has also recognized those working in schools for their contribution to keeping schools open—and has underscored how important this is for children. CUPE is committed to supporting safe workplaces for our members and we follow the guidelines set by the PHO.  We continue to advocate for K-12 members and expect to have opportunities to meet with public health in the future.

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Bulletin #37 – Two public schools close due to COVID-19

Although infection rates remain significantly lower in schools than in the community, CUPE members in Locals 728 (Surrey) and 1091 (Delta) have recently been affected by COVID-19. In Surrey, SD 36 closed Cambridge Elementary until November 30 as advised by Fraser Health. In Delta, Jarvis Elementary will also be closed for two weeks effective November 16.

K-12 locals across the province are dealing with self-isolation with many of our members being told to self-isolate across several districts. Details about school exposures and clusters can be found on each health region’s website. (Please see Bulletin 33 for links.)

Parents, students and the public depend on CUPE members supporting students in schools throughout B.C.

The position of the K-12 Presidents Council has always been that safety in schools—for everyone—is paramount.

Whether schools close by choice or are ordered to close, the K-12 Presidents Council strongly advocates that continuity of wages and benefits must not be interrupted. All locals should continue to work with their districts to ensure that members do not have to use any of their accrued banks because they were directed to self-isolate.

We are working hard to support locals during school closures. British Columbians need all support staff available, healthy and able to continue to support students.

Your K-12 Presidents Council and CUPE continue to focus on:

  • Keeping members, students and everyone in the K-12 community safe
  • Helping locals navigate through this pandemic
  • Continuing to work with government and all stakeholders

We will continue to follow the science and guidance of the Provincial Health Officer and the BCCDC.

In safety and solidarity,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

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Bulletin # 36 – PHO AND MASKS

Being called upon to adjust to new changes as COVID continues, can be challenging. But if we all do our part and follow the PHO orders, hopefully we will flatten the curve in our communities and in our schools.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

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PHO issues new orders for Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health Regions

On November 7, 2020, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an order to limit social interactions in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley to those who live in the same household for the next two weeks.

The order is aimed at reducing social interactions so that schools and workplaces can remain open. Henry says that it is incredibly important that we slow the virus.

Henry said that the foundational layers of protection and the minimal but important province-wide orders have not changed. Basic measures that all individuals need to take to prevent transmission of this virus are: cleaning our hands regularly; making sure we cover our cough and not touch our face; keeping our safe distance, particularly from people we don’t know when we’re in public spaces; and, wearing a mask when we cannot maintain physical distancing, particularly in indoor locations.

School districts do not need to change their health and safety procedures in response to this order and should continue to follow the existing protocols and guidelines in the COVID-19 Operational Guidelines and the Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings. The BCCDC has also set up a new epidemiology dashboard that will be updated on Tuesdays and Fridays. The information will show cases as well as number of tests in each given location.

The PHO also said that the outbreak at École de l’Anse-au-sable in Kelowna has been declared over and students and staff are back in class.

Watch the Nov. 7 update here, starting at 5:41.

You can watch the Nov. 9 update here starting at 4:54.



As science and medical evidence comes in with respect to this pandemic, things change frequently. The following information on masks is from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Here you’ll find information about proper material, structure and fit; children and masks; use and storage; safety considerations, etc.

How well a mask or face covering works depends on the materials used, how the mask is made, and most importantly, how well it fits.

A mask or face covering can be homemade or purchased, and should be made of at least three layers. Two layers should be tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton or linen and the third (middle) layer should be a filter-type fabric.

The mask should:

  • be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaping
  • allow for easy breathing
  • fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
  • l be comfortable and not require frequent adjustments
  • be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
  • maintain its shape after washing and drying

Filters add an extra layer of protection against COVID-19 by trapping small infectious particles.

Consider wearing a mask that includes a filter or filter material as one of its layers.

Reusable masks with a non-woven filter layer should be washed daily, and can be washed multiple times.

Disposable filters should be changed daily or as directed by the manufacturer.


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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