HAMILTON, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– With just over a month left before in-class learning resumes for Ontario students and as the province prepares to release its back-to-school plan, education workers from the Hamilton, Brantford and Halton regions are putting their heads together to ensure a safe return to class in September.
On August 3, education support staff from three of the region’s school boards will meet provincial leaders from their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents over 2000 school board employees at Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (CUPE 4153), Halton Catholic District School Board (CUPE 3166), and Grand Erie District School Board (CUPE 5100). CUPE education workers from Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board attended a similar session in July.
A wide range of workers – including custodians, education assistants, school secretaries, library assistants, maintenance workers, office and clerical staff, and many others – will take part in two sessions, sharing their experiences of working during the COVID-19 pandemic and contributing to a series of recommendations that put students’ education and well-being at the heart of school re-opening plans.
“Since the pandemic began, education workers have shared information and advice regularly with the Ministry of Education, just as we’ve continued to support students, schools, families and communities,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), which represents 55,000 CUPE education workers province-wide.
“Education workers know how schools work and what students need. Our input is critical to a safe reopening and we will do all we can to make sure our schools are safe places to learn and work in September.”
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 the region,” said Walton.
The sessions are the first in-person meetings of the area’s education workers since the COVID-19 pandemic began, although CUPE members will also have the option of joining online. Participants at the in-person meetings will obey strict COVID-19 guidelines.
For more information, contact:
Laura Walton, President, Ontario School Board Council of Unions, 613-813-9951
Mary Unan, CUPE Communication, 647-390-9839