Surrey K-12 school-based staff to begin receiving vaccines today

SURREY—CUPE 728 members who are K-12 school-based support staff in Surrey will begin receiving vaccines today.

“This pandemic has been particularly stressful for K-12 workers throughout the system, and I thank all of them for the incredible work they’re doing every day to keep our schools open and safe,” says CUPE BC President Paul Faoro.

On Monday Dr. Bonnie Henry said that there is not enough vaccine to do everyone in the school system right now, so priority will be given where the risk is the greatest. Fraser Health and SD#36 are developing a vaccination plan for school-based staff.

“We are pleased that some of the K-12 school-based support staff in Surrey schools will be receiving vaccines,” said CUPE 728 President Tammy Murphy. “As more vaccines become available, it is our hope that all support staff receive their vaccines as soon as possible.”

Faoro says that dedicating any additional vaccine capacity to address potential high-risk worksites makes sense as B.C. continues to follow the guidance of the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Bulletin 58 – School support workers to have earlier access to vaccines

We are pleased with yesterday’s announcement by Premier John Horgan that education support workers will be included in Phase 2 and Phase 3 of B.C.’s vaccination plan.

We have advocated for this on many levels. Many of our members are in workplaces with high rates of exposure or do not have access to barriers while working indoors and in close proximity to large numbers of children and co-workers.

 

  • Approximately 340,000 doses of AstraZeneca/Covi-Shield, a fridge-stable vaccine, are expected to start arriving at the end of this month.
  • Starting in April, priority groups will focus on frontline workers including all staff in elementary and secondary schools.
  • Members in these priority groups are asked to not call their local health authority to book a vaccine appointment.
    Appointments will be organized by employers.
  • Vaccines will be administered by community pharmacists, at existing immunization clinics, and at mobile clinics in some worksites.
  • We expect that everyone in this sector will be able to be vaccinated by the end of May.

Details of the updated Immunization Plan can be found here.

Vaccination FAQ

If the adults in school (staff and administrators) are vaccinated, are they still at risk if they’re in a classroom of children who aren’t vaccinated?

All vaccines approved for use in Canada are effective in preventing COVID-19.

By fall 2021, we expect a large majority of adults in B.C., including school staff, to be vaccinated. As more people get vaccinated, we expect to see fewer cases of COVID-19 in communities, which means there should be fewer cases in schools.

People who are vaccinated can still get COVID-19, but are far less likely to experience severe illness. Even with most adults being vaccinated, there will likely still be some health and safety measures in place in schools and other settings until there is significantly less community transmission.

Here is the March 18 presentation on B.C.’s COVID-19 AstraZeneca/Covi-Shield Program.

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Please follow us @cupek12bc on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and view bulletins at https://bcschools.cupe.ca.

Bulletin 57 – Plan to join the conversation with B.C. support staff doing similar work

CUPE and the K-12 Presidents Council will be hosting a series of Zoom calls in April and May to hear from members in classification-specific meetings. This is an opportunity to connect with others throughout B.C. doing the same work.

These calls will guide and inform both the strategic plan for bargaining and the work we need to do together now and beyond bargaining. Different classifications may have distinct challenges and priorities for work improvements they’d like to see. We want to hear from all classifications.

Once call details are worked out, we’ll send information on how to join the call(s) that most closely match your job title(s). Larger classifications will have additional calls by region.

Most calls are being planned for the evening although we will add a daytime call for custodians who work in the evenings.

K-12 CLASSIFICATION GROUPINGS
1. Bussing
2. Clerical/Administrative
3. Custodians, Caretakers, Building Service Workers, and similar classifications
4. Education Assistants, SSWs, CEAs, and similar classifications
5. Other direct student support, including Indigenous Support Workers, Youth and Child Workers, library support staff and similar classifications
6. IT, Tech Support, Technicians, and similar classifications
7. Strong Start, ECEs, and similar classifications
8. Labourers, Grounds and Maintenance
9. Meal program staff and supervisors, including noon hour, crossing guard, and others.
10. Trades

Stay tuned for more information on this important initiative.

Have a relaxing and safe Spring Break!

Most school districts are heading into Spring Break this coming week for a much-deserved two weeks off. We know how important and needed this time away is for members and their families.

This pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges and concerns for members. You have gone above and beyond to keep schools open and safe for students and staff.

As we move into the final months of the school year, we know this important work continues.

Thank you CUPE members for always rising to the challenge!

It is our position that K-12 workers must be vaccinated early in the essential workers group, expected in March or April. Vaccinations and better weather will help to slow down this virus and gives us reason to hope. We are almost there!

Please follow us @cupek12bc on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and view bulletins at https://bcschools.cupe.ca.

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Bulletin 56 – B.C.’s vaccination plan updated

B.C.’s vaccine distribution plan focuses on first protecting the most vulnerable in Phases 1 and 2. We are now in Phase 2 which is expected to run from February to April. No one will lose their place in line. For example, if someone in Phase 2 cannot be immunized at that time, they can get the vaccine at any point thereafter.

Delay on second doses

On Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that every eligible adult in British Columbia should be able to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by late July based on the approval of a new vaccine and the decision to delay second doses.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) gives the Public Health Agency of Canada scientific advice about immunization. It recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, the number of people receiving vaccines be maximized by extending the interval for the second dose to four months. This provides the opportunity to protect the entire adult population in a short timeframe. NACI will continue to monitor evidence on effectiveness of extended dose intervals and will adjust recommendations as needed.

Accelerating availability

A joint statement from the Minister of Health and the PHO noted that the addition of the newly approved AstraZeneca vaccine means they may be able to look at accelerating vaccine availability for essential workers. We are hopeful that the approval of the new vaccine will result in an earlier timeline for K-12 members.

Vaccines are safe

Health Canada has conducted a rigorous and thorough scientific review of the available medical evidence to assess the safety of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines before approving them. No major safety concerns have been identified in the data.

Canada has agreements with 7 pharmaceutical companies to get enough doses to immunize all Canadians.

The COVID-19 vaccine produces immunity which means that you can be exposed without becoming sick, or if you do become infected, it prevents more severe illness.

Vaccines protect both the vaccinated person and everyone around them.

CUPE encourages all members to receive the vaccine when it becomes available to them. We also recognize that some members will refuse the vaccine due to medical, religious or cultural reasons. If this is your situation, please work with your CUPE Local and National Representative.

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Bulletin 55 – COVID-19 variants in K-12

As of February 21, the U.K. variant of COVID-19 has been identified in exposure events in five schools in Surrey and one school in Delta.

Surrey schools affected are:

  • AHP Matthew Elementary
  • James Ardiel Elementary
  • École Woodward Hill Elementary
  • Surrey Traditional Elementary
  • Tamanawis Secondary

One school in Delta, Hellings Elementary, also has been identified with the U.K. variant.

Thankfully all of the 35 tests, administered at the six schools, came back negative. Referencing that layers of protection are working, the PHO is not revising guidelines at this time, although they are closely monitoring the situation and will revise guidelines, following the science.

Variants

The COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, appears to make the virus more infectious, allowing it to spread more easily. There may be an increase in severity of symptoms and mortality rates depending on the variant of the virus.

When there have been several significant mutations to the virus, it is called a variant. A variant is considered “a variant of concern” when it affects:

  • disease spread
  • disease severity
  • tests used to detect the virus
  • vaccines and treatments

Stopping the spread

Our Early Years–K-12 members are to be commended for their commitment in keeping schools safe, while continuing to provide high quality education and care. It is more important than ever to remain vigilant in the personal efforts we are each making to stop the spread of COVID-19. This includes staying home when sick, washing hands frequently, maintaining physical distance when possible, and wearing a mask when not possible to maintain distancing.

Meanwhile, we are supporting you by successfully advocating for improvements to public health and health and safety measures, such as having school districts provide paid time for isolation, quarantine and school closures when directed by public health; and improvements to streamline the process of exposure notification recently announced by Fraser Health. The Rapid Response Team is now in place and will begin its work liaising with districts and health authorities next week. Fraser Health has now implemented additional protective measures in response to increasing COVID-19 and variant cases in the region.

CUPE continues to work with the BC Centre for Disease Control, the B.C. government, WorkSafeBC and all K-12 stakeholder groups in reviewing and amending health and safety guidelines. As a baseline, these are the minimum standards school districts must meet and worksite specific safety plans are required to detail these measures and address enhanced responses to local circumstances.

If you have concerns about the safety measures in your worksite, please work with your joint health and safety representatives and CUPE local to address these issues.

Please follow us @cupe12bc on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and view bulletins at https://bcschools.cupe.ca.

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