Bulletin #25 – COVID-19 FAQ #7

For more information on the K-12 Restart, please continue to visit bcschools.cupe.ca as information is regularly updated.

In safety and solidarity,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

Health and safety

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


The following FAQs are under the Schools section on the BC Centre for Disease Control website. This information was updated on September 4. Find answers to questions here.

Is it safe to be with older people, like grandparents or Elders, once schools are back in session?

Each family is different. Some families may live with older people or Elders. Other families may visit or depend on them to help with childcare. Families need to think about their own unique situation to decide if and how to be with older people, like grandparents and Elders, in the safest way possible.

If you live with or spend a lot of time with older people or Elders, there are things you can do to lower the chances of getting and spreading the virus. This may include decreasing the number of contacts your family has outside of your household. For example, you can limit contacts to only family members outside of school, work and other commitments. You can also visit outside when the weather is good and keep a 2 metre distance when visiting.

Adults and children are more likely to catch COVID-19 in the community than in schools, based on the rigorous health and safety measures that will be in place.

Can students and staff without symptoms go to school if someone else in their household is sick?

Students and staff without symptoms can still go to school even if someone else in their household is sick. They cannot go to school if public health has told them not to. This is the same as for other settings like workplaces and public spaces.

Most people who are sick or have symptoms of illness in B.C. are not sick with COVID-19. So, it is very unlikely the person in their household has COVID-19.

If someone has been diagnosed with COVID-19, public health will identify close contacts and ask them to stay home and self-isolate.

The person who is sick or has symptoms should be assessed by 8-1-1 or a health care provider. Testing is recommended for anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, even mild ones.

What should happen if staff or students become sick while at school?

A student will be separated, provided a non-medical mask or tissues to cover their coughs or sneezes, and cared for if they become sick at school. Their parents or caregiver will be notified and asked to pick them up as soon as possible.

Staff will be separated and asked to go home as soon as possible.

In both cases, the spaces they were in will be cleaned and disinfected.


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Additional K-12 funding will support a safe restart

Education Minister Rob Fleming’s funding announcement on Thursday is good news for our members and for a safe restart in B.C. schools.

If you missed the announcement, you can watch it on the B.C. government YouTube channel here. The announcement starts at minute 6:00.

The federal funding of $242.4 million builds on provincial funding of $45.6 million to support a safe restart for B.C.’s schools. Funding will allow schools to expand health and safety measures, purchase more personal protective equipment (PPE) and increase capacity for remote learning.

The Ministry release says that the funding will support school districts to hire and train more teachers and support staff for remote learning; purchase additional software licences, electronic course materials and textbooks; purchase computers or tablets; and create Wi-Fi hubs and internet access in remote and Indigenous communities.

The release highlights some areas where funding can be spent including learning resources and supports, health and safety, transportation, as well as before and after school care. Answering a question, Minister Fleming said that flexibility of funding allowed for hiring additional support staff, including custodians and attendants on buses.

Districts will determine where funds are allocated. This chart shows the amount of federal funding allocated to each district in the last column of Table A: SUMMARY OF GRANTS TO DATE 2020/2021.

Have a safe and happy Labour Day!

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

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Bulletin #23 – CUPE K-12 Site Safety Committees

CUPE K-12 site health and safety committees do not fall under the jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC. The Workers Compensation Board and the Workers Compensation Act only recognize the joint health and safety committee, not the central /district joint safety committee or CUPE site/local health and safety committees. CUPE K-12 site health and safety committees identify problems and bring them to their local’s joint health and safety committee to address.

1. What does a site health and safety committee do?

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.

2. How does the site committee know what safety guidelines are in place?

Site committee members need to be familiar with the Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings as well as the district safety plan and any site-specific guidelines in place at their schools. All district safety plans have been approved and are on the district’s individual website. The provincial guidelines document is regularly updated and can be found here.

3. What are the responsibilities of committee members?

Site committee members note issues that are unsafe. They are sometimes a point of contact for members working at the site who notice safety issues that need to be addressed. Get to know who your Committee members should refer to the Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings and safety plan for their district, especially during the pandemic. They sometimes also assist their local joint health and safety committee and the employer with member safety.

4. How does a site health and safety committee work with the district?

CUPE K-12 site health and safety committees report concerns or issues in the school directly to the local’s joint health and safety committee. The joint committee then raises it with the district. The local’s joint health and safety committee, in consultation with the local, may ask the site committee to assist in other ways.

5. My school doesn’t have a site health and safety committee. How do we get one?

Contact your local immediately, as these committees are crucial as our members return to work at schools.

6. Is the site health and safety committee a joint committee that includes the union and management?

Typically, site committees include one or more representatives from each union or association and the site administrator.

7. What should our site safety committee do when we see safety guidelines aren’t being followed?

It is important to remember that the site committee is in addition to the required local joint health and safety committee. The site committee should refer their issues and concerns to the local’s joint health and safety committee which deals with issues arising throughout the district. The joint health and safety committee should try to resolve the issues and concerns, including by making formal and informal recommendations as part of the committee’s mandate. Where this is not successful, the joint health and safety committee may contact WorkSafeBC for assistance. In addition, workers always have the right to refuse unsafe work under Section 3.12 of the OHS Regulations.

Please check out the WorkSafeBC guidelines for schools returning to operation.


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.