ST. CATHARINES, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– The final bell may have rung on the 2020-21 school year, but education workers from school boards in the Niagara region are already putting their heads together to ensure a safe return to class in September.
On July 8, education support staff from Niagara-area school boards will meet provincial leaders from their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents almost 3000 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 the Four Points by Sheraton St. Catharines Niagara Suites and all participants will obey strict COVID-19 guidelines.
The gathering will bring together education workers from the District School Board of Niagara, Niagara Catholic District School Board and Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir. A wide range of workers – from education assistants to computer technicians, 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 the Niagara region,” said Walton.
At District School Board of Niagara, CUPE 4156 represents approximately 1700 school secretaries, librarians, computer technicians, education assistants, early childhood educators, maintenance and property services workers, caretakers, payroll and purchasing services staff, and other support staff. CUPE 1317 represents 1100 members at Niagara Catholic District School Board: administration personnel, maintenance workers, student support services and technology staff. At Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir, 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