Bulletin – Updates announced for K-12 COVID protocols

The provincial health officer announced changes to several public health orders this week, meaning the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has updated it’s Public Health Guidance for the K-12 sector. The revised guidance will take effect on the first day of the school’s spring break.

The complete updated Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings is now online.

The major changes include:

  • Masks will no longer be required, but instead a personal choice of students, staff, and visitors.
  • Students and staff with COVID-19 symptoms should follow current BCCDC advice on how long to isolate. A summary of BCCDC guidance can be found in the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings, appendix A – page 28.
  • People developing symptoms while at school, and who are unable to participate in regular activities, should be supported to go home.
  • Schools can go back to routine visitor policies, and routine pick up/drop off practices.
  • Events taking place in schools with only students, staff and necessary volunteers from that school can be 100 percent capacity. Events taking place in schools that include people beyond that school should be limited to 50 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is greater. Once the PHO Gatherings and Events Order is lifted on April 7, all events can return to 100 percent capacity.
  • Events and field trips taking place in venues outside a school can take place with proof of vaccination, but schools should make every effort not to plan activities that might exclude someone if proof of vaccination is required.

Schools are being directed to continue to be supportive in environments where both those continuing or not continuing with personal prevention practices (e.g., wearing a mask or face covering) will be supported and treated with respect.

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Bulletin – Bargaining Update: far apart on money issues, more work to be done

The K-12 provincial bargaining committee met last week with their counterparts from the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association. This third session focused primarily on monetary issues, including wages and term for a new provincial framework agreement.

After years of chronic underfunding by past provincial governments, inflation driving up our province’s already high cost of living, and the toll of a 2-year long pandemic, school support workers are falling farther behind. From the opening of these talks, the K-12 bargaining committee has been clear that the top priority for school support workers is the need for wage increases that recognize the vital role they play in our public schools and our communities.

In last month’s throne speech, the provincial government committed to tying increases to provincial minimum wages to inflation rates, a policy it says will “make everyday life more affordable” for workers.

The K-12 bargaining committee is firm that the starting point to fairness for school support workers are wage increases that reflect the rising cost-of-living in line with current inflation rates. But the BCPSEA’s first wage offer falls far short of addressing the financial pressures being carried by school support workers and their families and does not live up to the province’s commitment to “leave no worker behind.”

Our members are highly trained, qualified, and dedicated to public service. They are ready to take on new opportunities – such as expanding our school systems to be places for early learning that can be for childcare, before and after school. They are ready to face new challenges – as they did throughout the pandemic keeping our schools clean and healthy, and keeping them running for all students.

But to keep serving B.C. communities, K-12 support staff need to be properly resourced, treated with respect, and paid fairly.  The province and BCPSEA must live up to their commitment and recognize the crucial role school support workers have in a high-quality public education system that better serves and cares for students, offers more support for families, and benefits everyone in our communities.

The parties are committed to meet again in the future to continue bargaining.

Over the past 2 years, our members have been told time and time again that their work is critical to keeping students learning, families supported, schools clean and healthy, and communities thriving. We remain hopeful a wage settlement can be reached that reflects the value and importance of our work and does not leave our members behind.

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Bulletin – March Mobilizing Mondays!

K-12 locals across the province are in preparations for local bargaining. So, throughout March, CUPE Education is launching Mobilizing Mondays – every Monday of the month CUPE will be virtually hosting the Mobilizing for Bargaining workshop for K-12 locals.

In this online workshop, locals will learn to assess how well their members are engaged. The session covers building power by mobilizing members to build solidarity and support for the bargaining committee.

This is an excellent training opportunity for local mobilization committees. Registrations for these workshops are free of charge to CUPE locals. Locals are responsible for other associated costs (i.e., member book-offs).

The workshops will be held over Zoom in English every Monday in March, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Pacific Time.

K-12 locals will get priority registration, but please register for the preferred date as soon as possible. The deadline to register for the first session is March 4. More information on the workshops and registration is available in the links below.

Register TODAY for Mobilizing Monday!

Click here to register for March 7, 2022

Click here to register for March 14, 2022

Click here to register for March 21, 2022

Click here to register for March 28, 2022

If you’d like more information on the workshops, please contact Logan Lamerton at llamerton@cupe.ca.

If you need assistance with registration, please contact Darlene Wilson at dwilson@cupe.ca.

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Bulletin – Updates for K-12 sector COVID guidelines

Last week, the provincial health officer announced changes to public health orders. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has updated its guidance to the K-12 sector on the preventative measures needed to limit the spread of COVID in schools. As of February 18, some of the enhanced measures implemented earlier this year have been rescinded.

All schools and other learning environments can return to the preventative measures outlined in the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings. These are the preventative measures that were in place at the start of the school year. This means:

  • School gatherings and events (i.e., assemblies) with students from the same school no longer have specific capacity limits.
  • Indoor extracurricular activities should not exceed 50 percent capacity or 50 people (whichever is greater).
  • Spectators are permitted for gatherings and events (e.g., performances, sports events) within capacity limits.
  • Schools should not implement proof of vaccination requirements for school-led gatherings and events.
  • Visitors are no longer limited to those supporting activities of direct benefit to student learning and wellbeing.

As a reminder, masks are still required for staff, students and visitors while indoors in schools and school buses.

Take-home COVID test expanding

The provincial government has announced that K-12 students will soon be supplied with take-home rapid antigen tests. In the coming weeks, each student will be given a five pack of the rapid tests for home use. No specific timeline has been announced yet, but the tests are expected to be distributed through schools in the coming weeks.

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Bargaining continues, pivotal meeting ahead

The K-12 provincial bargaining committee met this week with their counterparts from the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association for another three days of discussions.

Talks continued on a wide range of topics during face-to-face, safely distanced meeting. Agreements were tentatively reached at the table on several non-monetary issues for a new provincial framework agreement.

Bargaining will resume with three more days of talks scheduled for March 1st through to the 3rd. The K-12 committee expects this to be a pivotal phase of bargaining and are planning to tackle our significant monetary proposals.

The K-12 committee remains committed to reaching a deal at the table. From the start of this round, the K-12 bargaining committee has been clear that the top priority for K-12 school support workers is the need for wage increases that recognize the vital role they play in our communities. A renewed provincial framework agreement will greatly depend on advancement on this issue.

Following this next bargaining session with BCPSEA, the bargaining committee will be meeting with the K-12 Presidents Council to either ratify a tentative agreement or to discuss strategies for next steps in the bargaining process. Members should watch for that bulletin at bcschools.cupe.ca, directly from your local, and on our social media – @cupek12bc.

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