OSBCU – Press Release

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Paying it forward: CUPE education workers step up to
support public and colleagues hard hit by COVID-19

Education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario are gearing up to help friends and neighbours whose lives and workplaces have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.
CUPE school board leaders have strongly endorsed the provincial government’s “community involvement” initiative, which was announced this morning (Saturday). It paves the way for the union’s education workers to assist in long-term care homes, group homes, and other congregate care settings.
“CUPE education workers have a strong sense of community and they know there’s a critical need for staffing in health, long-term care and social services. Many of us have been looking for ways to lend our support and so we’re pleased to endorse this voluntary plan,” said Laura Walton, President of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU).
She pointed out that a CUPE school board local in Kenora was already working to redeploy their custodians to help with cleaning needs in area hospitals.
Very few education workers have been laid off during Ontario’s school closures and many – including custodians, early childhood educators, and education assistants – are still on the job, maintaining schools and supporting students who are learning at home.
Walton confirmed this leaves “many CUPE members available and eager to support vulnerable residents and exhausted colleagues.” Among those coming forward for secondment to other sectors are custodians, youth workers, psychologists, maintenance staff, education assistants, social workers, paraprofessionals, special-needs teachers and food service workers.
But even as CUPE education workers roll up their sleeves to volunteer for redeployment, they are mindful that their colleagues in other sectors have either suffered mass layoffs or are exhausted or ill – all while working under orders issued under the government’s emergency powers.
“As public sector workers, we’ve called for all redeployments to be voluntary and for all laid-off workers to be re-hired,” said Walton. “But most of all, we recognize the harsh reality that the pandemic has revealed about the state of public services in the province, and what it means for workers and people who are vulnerable.”
COVID-19 has only amplified what CUPE public sector workers have been saying for years: provincial underfunding and understaffing have left Ontario’s public services diminished, dangerously overstretched and without the resilience needed to weather a pandemic.

“This virus has shown every Ontarian the catastrophic effects of starving our vital services of money and resources. The people who rely on those services deserve better and the people who deliver them do, too,” concluded Walton.

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School year updates (provided by OSBCU)

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Please see the memo below provided by OSBCU regarding school year updates.
Memorandum to:
Chairs of District School Boards
Directors of Education
School Authorities
From:
Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education
Nancy Naylor, Deputy Minister
Thank you for your commitment to ensuring that, even in these unprecedented circumstances, Ontario’s education system is maintaining its focus on supporting student learning.
We are writing to advise that Minister Lecce has signed an order extending school closures to at least May 31, 2020. School employees will have access to schools as of May 29, 2020.
The closure may be extended further if necessary to protect the health and safety of students, families, and staff, based on the advice of public health experts and the province’s COVID-19 Command Table.
In protecting the emotional and mental health of students, boards must ensure that mental health workers and professional staff are available to engage with students immediately, as needed, in a secure and safe conversation.
During this period, we encourage students and parents to continue to access learning resources and tools through Learn at Home/Apprendre à la maison. These portals are continuously being updated to provide additional materials and content.
The previously-directed hours of work per student, per week, and the suggested areas of curriculum focus that were set out in the March 31, 2020 provincial guidance document continue to apply:
Grade Range
K-Grade 3
  • Five hours of work per student per week
  • Focus: Literacy and math
Grades 4-6
  • Five hours of work per student per week
  • Focus: Literacy and math + science and social studies
Grades 7-8
  • 10 hours of work per student per week
  • Focus: Core math, literacy, science and social studies
Grades 9-12
  • Three hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students
  • Focus: Achieving credits/completion/graduation
SUMMER LEARNING
In the coming weeks, we look forward to working together to delivering a robust summer learning program that will reach as many students as possible, with a focus on credit delivery, credit recovery and gap-closing programs and supports for vulnerable students.
PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITY DAYS, EXAMINATION DAYS AND SCHOOL CALENDARS
We want to take this opportunity to recognize the commitment to students demonstrated by educators and support staff across the province. Circumstances have required all of us to change how we do our work. We are encouraged that educators and staff are engaging in voluntary professional development opportunities, building skills and sharing best practices for supporting continued learning in a remote environment. For example, over 14,000 educators so far have participated in the ministry’s webinars on using Brightspace, the province’s Virtual Learning Environment and teaching in a remote environment, and many more have engaged in board-delivered professional development. We encourage educators to continue developing their skills and competencies in this area. The ministry will continue to offer resources and supports.
In order to maximize instructional time for students during this unprecedented time, Minister Lecce has directed that all remaining professional activity days and examination days for the 2019-2020 school year are to be used for instruction.  Amendments have been made to RRO 1990, Regulation 304 (School Year Calendar, Professional Activity Days) under the Education Act.
Although professional activity days are formally cancelled for the remainder of the school year, we encourage school boards to work with teachers and educational assistants to ensure time is available for report cards in June. In particular, the time necessary to complete report cards is recognized as a priority for students and parents.
We would also like to confirm that, as we continue to plan for the 2020-2021 school year, school year calendar submissions are not being considered for approval at this time. As such, boards will not be required to submit a 2020-2021 school year calendar and professional activity day descriptions by the May 1, 2020 deadline. The ministry will provide additional direction regarding new deadlines once decisions on the 2020-2021 school year have been made. We recognize the significant effort that goes in to preparing, adopting and submitting your school year calendars and professional activity day descriptions and thank you for your efforts as we work together to help Ontario students continue their learning.
Thank you once again for your efforts, and for those of your board staff and educators.
Sincerely,
original signed by                               
Stephen Lecce                                            Nancy Naylor
Minister of Education                                  Deputy Minister
c:         President, Association des conseils scolaires des écoles publiques de l’ontario (ACÉPO)
Executive Director, Association des conseils scolaires des écoles publiques de l’ontario (ACÉPO)
President, Association franco-ontarienne des conseils scolaires catholiques (AFOCSC)
Executive Director, Association franco-ontarienne des conseils scolaires catholiques (AFOCSC)
President, Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA)
Executive Director, Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA)
President, Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA)
Executive Director, Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA)
Executive Director, Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE)
President, Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO)
Executive Director and Secretary-Treasurer, Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO)
President, Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA)
General Secretary, Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA)
President, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO)
General Secretary, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO)
President, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF)
General Secretary, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF)
Chair, Ontario Council of Educational Workers (OCEW)
Chair, Education Workers’ Alliance of Ontario (EWAO)
President of OSBCU, Canadian Union of Public Employees – Ontario (CUPE-ON)
Co-ordinator, Canadian Union of Public Employees – Ontario (CUPE-ON)
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Right to Refuse work & process

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Please review the attachments below regarding the procedures on the right to refuse work where health and safety is in danger as provided by CUPE National.
CLICK HERE for information regarding COVID-19 and the right to refuse unsafe work
CLICK HERE to view the work refusal process

OSBCU Bulletin – April 7, 2020

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Please CLICK HERE to view the most recent bulletin provided by OSBCU.
Please CLICK HERE to view a message from your Injured Worker/Health & Safety Representatives Mike Saliba and Michele LaLonge-Davey.
Below are some additional attachments that are an excellent resource to assist members answer some outstanding questions. Please click on the link directly (blue lettering). This information has already been shared in previous days.

Role of the Kindergarten Early Childhood Educator: Learn at Home Program

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Please CLICK HERE to view documentation provided regarding the role of the Kindergarten Early Childhood Educator during the ‘Learn at Home Program’
Please let us know by email if you have any concerns or questions –
Rebecca Graham: unitdvpcupe4222@gmail.com
Victoria Toulouse: presidentcupe4222@gmail.com
Joanne Dowswell: chiefstewardcupe4222@gmail.com

Custodial Update – April 4, 2020

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To All Custodians
  1. We have tried to negotiate with the board to limit the number of custodians in the building, the length of time and the duties.
  2. We have contacted our National Rep
  3. We have contacted the President of OSBCU
  4. We have contacted the Health Unit
  5. We have contacted the business “Stop the Spread ” hotline
Every one of them say you must report to work if you pass the self assessment tool (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/selfassessment/#q0). If you do not pass the self assessment tool, it is not open for interpretation, you do not report to work and our employer is stating you must use sick leave (we are still fighting this).
This is the most up to date information we have. As you are aware things change very quickly and without warning and we will continue to provide the information as we receive it.
We know this is not the news you want to hear but we must warn all of you that if you choose not to attend work there could be consequences.
We also understand that everyone is upset and fearful but we will not be approving Facebook posts about the alerts as nothing has changed since the alert. We have also turned off commenting to avoid inaccurate information.
Please let us know by email if you have any concerns
Victoria Toulouse: presidentcupe4222@gmail.com
Joanne Dowswell: chiefstewardcupe4222@gmail.com