TIMMINS, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– The final bell may have rung on the 2020-21 school year, but education workers from schools from Ontario’s North-East are already putting their heads together to ensure a safe return to class in September.
On Sunday, July 25, education support staff from northeastern Ontario schools will meet provincial leaders from their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents approximately 450 school board employees in the region. Two sessions – the first in-person meetings of the area’s education workers since the COVID-19 pandemic began – are scheduled to take place at the Hampton Inn Timmins on Riverside Drive, although CUPE members may also join the meetings online. Participants at the in-person meetings will obey strict COVID-19 guidelines.
The gatherings will bring together education workers from District School Board Ontario North East, and Northeastern Catholic District School Board, as well as French-language boards Conseil scolaire catholique de district des Grandes Rivières and Conseil scolaire public du Nord-Est de l’Ontario. Among those taking part are custodians, office and clerical staff, education assistants, school secretaries, library assistants, computer technicians, maintenance workers, and child and youth workers. They will share their experiences of working during the COVID-19 pandemic and help to develop a plan that puts students’ education and well-being at the heart of school re-opening plans.
“Education workers have deep knowledge and unparalleled skills when it comes to 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 for schools in northeastern Ontario,” said Walton.
CUPE 8888 represents some 160 custodians and maintenance workers at District School Board Ontario North East. At Northeastern Catholic District School Board, CUPE 4681 represents around 140 members who work as education assistants, custodians, office and clerical staff, school secretaries, library assistants, computer technicians, child and youth workers, and more. CUPE also represents education workers at Conseil scolaire catholique de district des Grandes Rivières (CUPE 7777) and Conseil scolaire public du Nord-Est de l’Ontario (CUPE 4865).
For more information, contact:
Laura Walton, President, Ontario School Board Council of Unions, 613-813-9951
Mary Unan, CUPE Communication, 647-390-9839