WINDSOR, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– The final bell may have rung on the 2020-21 school year, but education workers from Windsor and Essex County school boards are already putting their heads together to ensure a safe return to class in September.
On July 6, education support staff from three Windsor and Essex school boards will meet provincial leaders from their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents more than 1200 school board employees in the region. Three sessions – the first in-person meetings of the area’s education workers since the pandemic began – are scheduled to take place in Windsor and all participants will obey strict COVID-19 guidelines.
The gathering will bring together education workers from Greater Essex District School Board, Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board and Conseil scolaire catholique Providence. A wide range of workers – from custodians to education assistants, from secretaries to maintenance workers, from early childhood educators to psychologists – will share their experiences of working during the COVID-19 pandemic to help develop a plan that puts students’ education and well-being at the heart of re-opening plans.
“Education workers have deep knowledge and unparalleled skills when it comes what students need and the ways that schools work,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), which represents 55,000 CUPE education workers province-wide.
“We’ve supported students, schools, families and communities throughout the pandemic; our input is critical to a safe September. We want to make sure we’re doing our part to make schools safe places to learn and work once again.”
Walton and her fellow CUPE members have previously identified the need for increased supports to help students recover from two years of disruption to their education; and the need for other measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 in schools, including better ventilation standards, smaller class sizes, and a provincial cleaning standard.
“We will be discussing these and other issues to ensure that health, safety and the quality of students’ education are prioritized again in Windsor-Essex schools,” said Walton.
At Greater Essex District School Board, CUPE 27 represents approximately 280 custodians, building maintenance, preventative maintenance workers, courier drivers, and a locksmith; and CUPE 1348 represents more than 200 office, clerical and technical employees. CUPE 1358 represents over 500 school support workers at Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board, including early childhood educators, child and youth workers, educational assistants, intervenors, sign language interpreters, speech and language pathologists, audiologists, psychometrists, psychologists and psychology associates, and attendance counselors). At CscProvidence, CUPE 4299 represents 605 members (in Windsor and beyond) who are employed as education workers in a similar wide range of classifications.
For more information, contact:
Laura Walton, President, Ontario School Board Council of Unions, 613-813-9951
Mary Unan, CUPE Communication, 647-390-3839