LONDON, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– The final bell may have rung on the 2020-21 school year, but education workers from school boards in and around London are already putting their heads together to ensure a safe return to class in September.
On July 7, education support staff from London-area school boards will meet provincial leaders from their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents more than 2700 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 at London’s Hampton Inn on Exeter Road; all participants will obey strict COVID-19 guidelines.
The gathering will bring together education workers from Thames Valley District School Board, London Catholic District School Board and Conseil scolaire Viamonde. A wide range of workers – from education assistants to custodians, from secretaries to maintenance workers, from early childhood educators to librarians – 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 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 schools in London,” said Walton.
At Thames Valley District School Board, CUPE 4222 represents nearly 1600 custodians, maintenance workers, printers, technicians, warehouse, office and clerical workers, and early childhood educators. At the same board, CUPE 7575 represents some 1100 education and instructional assistants. CUPE 4186 represents 1000 members at London Catholic District School Board: secretaries, noon-hour assistants, maintenance workers, librarians, language and literacy instructors, student supervisors, education assistants, early childhood educators, clerical workers, custodians, computer support technicians, and chaplaincy leaders. At Conseil scolaire Viamonde, CUPE members are also employed as education workers in a range of different classifications.
For more information, contact:
Laura Walton, President, Ontario School Board Council of Unions, 613-813-9951
Mary Unan, CUPE Communication, 647-390-3839