Bulletin – K-12 Education Recovery Plan for 2021/22 school year

The B.C. Ministry of Education has released a guide for its K-12 Education Recovery Plan. The plan lays out broad guidelines for districts to deliver programs and supports in the 2021/2022 school year that are in line with the province’s over all pandemic recovery efforts.

In addition to releasing the plan, Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside also announced $14.4 million in funding to districts specifically dedicated to health & safety efforts, including cleaning and supplies. CUPE welcomes this news as it reflects progress in the extensive and on-going efforts of our Locals to ensure the maintenance of daytime custodial staff.

CUPE, through the K-12 Presidents Council, looks forward to continuing work with the BC government to ensure the necessary resources are in place to help enact this comprehensive recovery plan for the 2021/2022 school year, and to build on this investment in keeping schools safe and healthy for kids, staff and communities.

Recovery Plan Overview

Drafted with the input of education system partners and stakeholders, including CUPE, the plan is based on five guiding principles:

  1. Fully re-engage all students through high-quality in-class instruction and innovative approaches to learning.
  2. Align health and safety procedures with public health guidance to support student and staff wellness, with a focus on mental health.
  3. Focus supports to address unique student and staff needs, recognizing the pandemic has impacted individuals and communities differently.
  4. Consult and work with First Nations, Metis and Inuit to address the unique educational and learning needs of their communities.
  5. Engage and collaborate with parents/caregivers, staff, unions and community partners to develop local solutions.

Health & Safety Guidelines

The guide, and the Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12, will be updated in August 2021, prior to the start of the 2021/2022 school year, to address specific topics in schools and to provide additional resources. The additional topics to be covered in the August 2021 update include guidance with:

  • Gatherings and events
  • Sports and extracurricular activities
  • Field trips
  • Cleaning protocols and personal protective equipment (including masks).

Until the update is released, the current Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 (dated April 16, 2021) will continue to apply.

 Mental health & well-being

The recovery plan will also include particular attention to mental health and well-being. The guide offers a broad overview of the Ministry of Education’s approach to addressing mental health and well-being in relation to the pandemic and includes links to currently available resources. An additional Mental Health Actions and Resources supplement will be released in July 2021 with recommended areas of focus in response to the pandemic, as well as specific actions and resources to support recovery efforts.

CUPE will provide updates when the mental health supplement is released next month, and for the August 2021 updates to the K-12 Education Recovery Plan and the Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12.


COVID-19 Safe Schools: B.C. Ministry of Education

K-12 Education Recovery Plan

Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12

Recovery Plan investment supports safe K-12 return: B.C. Ministry of Education Press Release

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Bulletin – Stigma, Privacy and Mental Health

Doing our part to reduce stigma of COVID-19

The pandemic has caused a huge amount of stress on all of us – within our families, in our workplaces, and in our communities. While we are hopeful a return to ‘normal’ will be coming soon, the pandemic is not yet over and we must all remain focused on limiting the spread of COVID-19 and mitigating the harm it can cause to our health, including our mental health well-being.

COVID-19 Stigma: threat to our health

Unfortunately, throughout the pandemic, many people have been experiencing social stigma, exclusion, discrimination, and mental health issues. Lack of understanding about COVID-19 has sparked feelings of fear, anger, and other unfair treatment against people who have contracted or have symptoms of COVID-19.

Stigma and discrimination are known barriers that prevent people from getting tested or accessing the care, treatment and support they need.

In our schools and workplaces this harm can mean:

  • exposing workers to high levels of guilt and stress
  • creating divisions in our workplaces and in our union
  • causing people to delay or avoid health services
  • making it harder to monitor, stop or slow outbreaks, and impede contract tracing
  • discouraging people from being tested

Stigma and discrimination may also discourage workers from reporting COVID-19 cases to WorkSafeBC.

CUPE members in K-12 and early learning are strongly encouraged to file a WorkSafeBC claim in any and all instances where they have reason to believe they contracted COVID-19 while at work (more information on why reporting is so important was covered in our April 30 bulletin).

Spreading rumors and perpetuating the stigma around COVID-19 can be harmful to you, your fellow workers, and the solidarity of our union.

We can all do our part to reduce stigma around COVID-19!

  • Be careful of the language you use to describe COVID-19 or someone who has the virus
  • Stay focused on positives, such as the steps being taken to contain COVID-19 and the preventative steps we are all taking to keep safe
  • Raise awareness by sharing messages based on facts, and correct any misconceptions that people believe or have spread
  • Respect privacy. There is no need to tell others if someone you know is infected or you suspect are infected
  • Show support, kindness and empathy to those who have, or are tested for, COVID-19

Additional resources:

Government of Canada: COVID-19: Testing and reducing stigma

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Preventing Stigma

Provincial Health Services Authority: Returning to work after COVID-19 isolation

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: Stigma and prejudice

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Bulletin – Custodians, caretakers, building services workers call wraps up series of K-12 support staff discussions

Custodians, caretakers, building services workers and other CUPE members working in similar classifications took part in the last of a series of Zoom calls for K-12 staff to discuss their experiences during the pandemic and their bargaining priorities going forward.

Some of the pressing issues discussed include the availability of adequate replacement for custodial staff as well as workload and working conditions issues. Participants also shared their experiences and best practices using various cleaning products and equipment.


The group also spoke about their experiences during the pandemic, and the challenges it presented on the job. The pressures of providing more frequent cleaning throughout the school day was a common theme, as well as the added responsibility of monitoring the current use of masks. Concerns about the inconsistent provision of proper masks in some districts was also raised.

While experiences varied, the group all agreed that maintaining daytime custodians in schools across the province needs to be priority, both now and after the pandemic.

Participants, including members, presidents, K-12 Presidents Council executive and staff, discussed how these issues and other concerns could be addressed in bargaining.


The Zoom call— hosted by the CUPE K-12 Presidents Council and CUPE National staff – was the last in the series of 14 held over the past two months. In total, over 700 CUPE members participated in the calls.

The classification specific calls brought together CUPE members in British Columbia’s K-12 (including early years) public education system, giving them the opportunity to share experiences during the pandemic and to have informal discussions about bargaining.

Bulletins on each call, highlighting discussions and topics raised, are available at bcschools.cupe.ca.

The K-12 Presidents Council would like to thank all members for their important contributions and input on all of the calls, as well as the many local presidents who participated, and staff. Information from all classifications will be invaluable as we begin to prepare for bargaining. THANK YOU!

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Please follow us @cupek12bc on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and visit bcschools.cupe.ca for more information and future updates.

Bulletin – In Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

As we have all had time to reflect on the news from the former Tk’emlúps Indian Residential School in Kamloops, we would like to take the time to recognize our members that support the Indigenous communities in which these atrocities occurred.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to all Indigenous communities and families. We know this is one more devastating reality of colonialism that continues to harm them every day.

The K-12 Presidents Council Executive Board extend our deepest condolences to the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation. We stand in solidarity with Chief Rosanne Casimir and her community as it grieves.

We want to assure all that we stand in solidarity with those affected and we need to give our support to all CUPE members, particularly Indigenous members as they work to heal themselves and those that they support.

The Executive Board recognizes awareness is a journey that we all must undertake to honour and fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) 94 Calls to Action. Please take the time to discuss the Calls to Action and the truths contained in the TRC final report. A copy of the Calls to Action is attached, and the complete TRC report is available online from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

CUPE’s Walking the talk: A practical guide to reconciliation for CUPE locals is also available online with more helpful information on engaging in meaningful reconciliation. Please share these important resources with your membership so we can all do our part in reconciliation and to support Indigenous communities on their path to healing.

In Solidarity,

Your K-12 Presidents Council

A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support for Residential School Survivors and those affected. Emotional and crisis referral services are available by calling the 24-hour national crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action

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Campaign shines light on CUPE 728 members’ dedication

SURREY—CUPE 728, the largest CUPE K-12 and early learning local in B.C., started an advertising campaign today to highlight some of the many services its 5,000 members provide in School District 36 – as well as their dedication to students and staff.

CUPE 728 President Tammy Murphy praised her members for their amazing commitment during the pandemic. “When people were able to stay home and still be paid, these members chose to come into work to prepare schools for the reopening,” said Murphy. “This was a scary time, and members from every department stepped up to make sure that kids, families and staff were taken care of.”

The campaign, running through December, features two different members each month in newspaper ads, on postcards and at cupe728.ca.

While it’s important for members to be recognized and acknowledged, said Murphy, the Local also wants to raise public awareness of the many and varied services they provide.

“Many people don’t realize that we have trades and non-trades departments that ensure schools and grounds are safe and things run smoothly, that we also have StrongStart and early childhood educators, or that CUPE members process payroll in the district,” she said. “We hope this campaign helps change that.”

CUPE 728 represents 5,000 members who support students and schools in Surrey School District 36.