Throughout July and August, education support staff represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees will meet leaders from CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, which represents more than 55,000 school board employees. The sector’s in-person meetings – the first since the pandemic began – kicked off on July 6 in Windsor and will continue in 16 other towns and cities across Ontario. All participants will obey strict COVID-19 guidelines and there is also an option for CUPE members to take part online.
The gatherings will bring together education workers from nearly 50 Ontario school boards. 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 school re-opening plans.
“Education workers have deep knowledge and unparalleled skills when it comes what students need and the ways that schools work,” said OSBCU President Laura Walton. “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 Ontario schools,” said Walton.