K-12 Bulletin #9

Message from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams

As many K-12 CUPE members will be back in classrooms on June 1, it’s important to recognize the work we have all done to enable re-opening our province under the guidance of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonny Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

B.C. had two of the first cases of COVID-19. During our peak at the end of April, B.C. had just over 700 cases of infection. Now we are well under 300 active cases. Not only have we flattened the curve, we’ve curved it downwards.

B.C. took a scientific approach and the science that produced these very good results is the same science that is guiding our restart.

The PHO has lifted restrictions that are not needed at this time. They will continue to keep us up-to-date. This is a new virus and we’re learning more every day. As we get more information we may need to adapt what we’re doing.

In the meantime let’s continue doing our part by washing our hands frequently and maintaining two metres of physical distancing where possible.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View the bulletin

BC Surveillance Summary

CUPE 723 supports community during COVID

CAMPBELL RIVER—CUPE 723, representing K-12 support staff in Campbell River, recently donated $5,000 to their local food bank. Local President Andrea Craddock said that members felt “incredibly fortunate” to be working while many people faced layoffs or business closures.

CUPE 723 members have been tireless in their efforts to provide support during the pandemic crisis. While education assistants and youth care workers delivered food hampers to more than 200 families on a weekly basis and provided emergency childcare for health care workers, custodial staff deep cleaned all schools to provide a higher level of sanitation and monitored everyone entering and exiting school facilities, bus drivers were redeployed to do maintenance work, and maintenance workers put in 12 hour days to install safety barriers and provide structural modifications to keep up with school safety protocols. At the same time, clerical staff and EAs worked from home to make sure that students were provided with online education and check-ins.

“We recognized the increased need for families struggling throughout our SD 72 community and beyond,” said Craddock, noting there are a lot of worthy organizations that help people in times of need. They chose the food bank because food is such a basic need for everybody, and the Local knew demand on the food bank would increase “exponentially” during the COVID-19 crisis.

Money budgeted for local members to attend conferences and training was redirected to where it would best serve communities in their time of need, added Craddock. The executive, hoping to get everyone on board with the community spirit, put out a challenge to the Campbell River Teachers Association (CRDTA) and the Campbell River Principals and Vice Principals Association (CRPVPA) to meet their donation so there could be one big donation to the food bank.

The challenge was met, with teachers topping it up by an additional $1,000. Craddock, Laird Ruehlen from the CRPVPA and CRDTA President Dave Harper presented cheques totalling $16,000 to Deb Willis, manager of the Campbell River Food Bank on May 11.

“This initiative felt like a way for the SD 72 team to give back and reinforce the care and concern we have for all families during this difficult time,” Craddock said. “We are all in this together.”

CUPE 723 represents 340 members, who provide a wide variety of services that support students in Campbell River. They include instructional support staff (i.e. education assistants, Indigenous support workers and Strong Start), custodians, trades, maintenance, grounds, clerical, IT, administrative support, lunch-hour supervisors and child and youth care workers.

Read the story in the Campbell River Mirror.

K-12 Bulletin #8

Message from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams

We are proud of the crucial role CUPE members play in supporting health care workers who are fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.

As more students return to in-class learning, we will continue to support our workers and the vulnerable students in our schools.

All school districts must follow the guidelines of the PHO and WorkSafe BC, as well as the provincial COVID-19 health and safety standards for K-12.

These times are challenging, but we will get through this together.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View the bulletin here.

See the attached documents for more information on public health guidance for K-12, WorkSafeBC guidance, and provincial COVID-19 health and safety standards for K-12.

PDF – Ministry of Education Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety guidelines for K-12 setting

PDF – Ministry of Health COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K-12 School Settings


COVID-19 and K-12 school town hall

Watch yesterday’s virtual town hall about how more students are being safely brought into B.C. classrooms this June as part of our province’s restart plan. Moderator Ravi Kahlon, MLA for Delta North, is joined by Minister of Education Rob Fleming; Dr. Trevor Corneil, medical lead in the office of the Provincial Health Officer; BC School Trustees Association President Stephanie Higginson; and Nigel Howard, American Sign Language (ASL) translator.


K-12 Bulletin #7

Message from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams

These have been very trying times with much uncertainty.

Yet you continue to show what it truly means to be a public service worker. It takes courage to continue to provide the services that keep the general public safe and secure during a pandemic. It also takes the support of your families during these challenging times.

As schools are bringing in more students, more classrooms will be used.

We will continue to push employers to provide PPE where necessary, and keep our members safe.

These times are scary and our physical safety is impor­tant. Also, our psychological well-being should not be set aside. We need to make sure all members are coping and taking care of themselves.

Please reach out if you are having difficulties or if you see someone who needs help.

Our members truly care about the students we serve. Thank you for all you do.

Your union is here to protect your safety.

In solidarity and safety,


Warren Williams

K-12 Presidents Council President

View the bulletin here.

K-12 Bulletin #6

Message from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams

It’s crucial that all CUPE locals have their site Health and Safety committees and representatives functional in all work locations. This is how we will ensure that we know what’s happening and are able to address problems. 

As we return to classrooms, we must ensure that the workplace is a safe place for students and staff.  

This bulletin provides info on how to work with different chemicals being used in B.C. schools.

The focus during this crisis has been frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your face, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, and staying home if not well. All of these personal responsibilities continue to be in effect. 

As we return to work, please remember to contact your site Health and  Safety Committee with any safety concerns.

Let’s be vigilant and strong to ensure the safety of all members and students in our schools. 

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View the bulletin here.

Here is more information on B.C.’s Restart Plan.

Message from K-12 Presidents Council President Warren Williams

CUPE members continue to play a vital role in B.C.’s response to COVID-19 through support and service to our students and vulnerable children, as well as the families of those providing essential services to all of us. I am proud that CUPE members stepped up during this challenging and ever-changing time.

Premier John Horgan announced today that schools throughout B.C. will expand in-person schooling for K-12 on a voluntary basis in June. The government is working out details and will be releasing a plan for how all grades will access additional in-school instruction. We are pleased that the government is developing plans to get kids back in schools because public schools provide a vital service to all communities.

When this crisis started, many of our members were fearful about their safety because of the varied approaches districts were taking. We need to ensure that workers get consistent information on how the safety of students and staff is being addressed in schools. Physical distancing can be a challenge in school, but all districts must follow basic safety standards as set by WorkSafe BC and the Provincial Health Officer.

Our members are on the front line, supporting essential services workers by providing child care and keeping schools clean and safe. School districts brought back daytime custodians to deal with the pandemic. With the announcement today, we know that more students and staff will be coming into schools. Not only do we need to keep those daytime custodians, we need additional custodians to be able to stay on top of disinfecting high-use surfaces and keeping schools safe.

We appreciate how difficult these last six weeks have been for CUPE members; parents; children who miss their friends, teachers and support staff; and essential services workers. Premier Horgan’s planned phases towards our ‘new normal’ allow for a dry run of bringing more students and staff into classrooms in June — but doing that safely for kids and staff.

Thank you to K-12 members for all that you do. We will get through this together.

In safety and solidarity,

Warren Williams
President K-12 Presidents Council

For more information read Premier outlines plan to restart B.C. safely.

Premier John Horgan’s Live update at 3:00pm today

Premier John Horgan’s Live update at 3:00pm today can be found online at: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BCProvincialGovernment/ <https://www.facebook.com/BCProvincialGovernment/>

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ProvinceofBC <https://www.youtube.com/user/ProvinceofBC>

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCGovNews <https://twitter.com/BCGovNews>

You can also watch it live at Global BC News1.

Pandemic underscores necessity for K-12 daytime custodians

NEW WESTMINSTER—CUPE 409 President Marcel Marsolais said that reinstating daytime custodians during the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the important work they do, not only for those attending or working at child care learning centres in schools, but for everyone.

“Custodians are the unsung protectors of the K-12 sector,” said Marsolais. “They are integral in keeping schools healthy and safe for all students, including vulnerable children, and our staff. Now they also support the children of health care and other essential front-line workers in schools.”

Custodians are well-trained in the procedures and protocols developed by districts to keep schools safe. Front-line staff, including clerical support staff, monitor who is coming into each school, where they are and when then leave. Custodians then clean and disinfect areas that have been used so they are safe for the next set of users. They regularly disinfect desks and high-use surfaces.

Daytime custodians have always taken care of students and staff in schools. As well as cleaning desks, bannisters, railings and door handles, they also clean and maintain washrooms; empty garbage; patrol and pick up broken glass and dangerous debris from the school grounds; and help with school functions like assemblies.

Marsolais notes that custodians who work while school is in session provide an educational benefit to students and help build respect for ensuring students’ learning environments are safe and secure.

“I’ll bet most people can remember the name of their custodian when they went to school,” says Marsolais. “Kids build relationships with their school custodians.”

As schools gradually open, custodial work will be increasingly important in each district as more students and staff return.

“The bottom line is that custodians need to be in schools during this pandemic and need to be kept there whenever schools are in session,” said Marsolais.

“Union lobbies for return of daytime custodians in New West schools”, Julie MacLellan, New Westminster Record, April 30, 2020.

“Are BC Schools Clean Enough to Reopen?”, Katie Hyslop, The Tyee, May 4, 2020.