The October PRDTU Member Newsletter will be delivered to members’ boxes this week.
You can download a copy of it by clicking here or clicking the image below.
At last night’s SD52 Board of Trustees meeting the budget for 2022-23 was approved. This budget includes major cuts to programs that directly support student learning. Once again, the Board of Trustees approved a budget that prioritizes indirect, non-instructional, programs at the expense of core educational programs for students. The PRDTU opposes this shift.
The Board of Trustees was late in adopting its budget. This will result in the School District having to surplus and layoff teachers after the May 31st deadline for surplus notices.
The PRDTU warned both senior management and the Board of Trustees of SD52’s contractual obligation to provide sufficient notice of any layoffs. We also advised SD52 to prioritize direct supports for students and core educational programs. We do not control how the Board of Trustees conducts its business and we do not control management decisions.
Members will receive layoff notices past the May 31st deadline. The PRDTU understands that this possibility creates stress for our members. We will do everything in our power to ensure that our Collective Agreement is followed. No teacher layoffs should be effective in September. According to the Collective Agreement, the next window for layoffs to become effective is after the end of a term or Winter Break – not in September.
If the School District attempts to violate its obligation to members and provides notices for layoffs to be effective in September, the PRDTU will file a grievance. We can also seek an expedited process to speed up the process and reduce uncertainly. Working through the grievance process on this matter is a priority for the PRDTU and we have already begun internal supports by the BCTF on the potential issue.
The PRDTU continues to believe that student safety should be a number one priority of School District 52. All schools and classrooms must be safe places for students. Education and learning requires that students are safe, included, and supported. Adequate supervision in schools and supports for students are essential for student safety.
The PRDTU continues to call on SD52 to fully staff its schools and classrooms. Safe schools require supervision, positive relationships, and support for every student. Reducing the number of classroom teachers does not help SD52 provide the supervision and support that our students deserve.
Not fully staffing school-based positions, such as by not replacing teacher counsellors in schools and not providing enough on call teachers, results in fewer supports and less supervision. Due to a shortage of teachers on call, SD52 teachers continue to report that learning specialist and other non-enrolling teachers are being pulled from their teaching responsibilities to cover absences.
Teachers are committed to providing a safe education for each student in our classrooms. That is why the PRDTU continues to call for an end to more reductions to teaching staff, an end to the failure to fill school-based teaching positions, an end to a failure to recruit and retain enough teachers on call, and an end to a failure to prioritize student learning and education as the core mission of SD52.
Click above or here to view the latest PRDTU newsletter.
Correction: The original post had the wrong year. This newsletter is for February 2022.
To read local coverage on the Public Health Officer’s recent order that could result in SD52 requiring employees to report their vaccination status to the district and to Public Health visit here.
The PRDTU continues to call for N95 masks, improved ventilation, and quicker access to booster shots. These measures should be prioritized. If SD52 is required by Public Health to collect and disclose the vaccination status of its employees, the PRDTU will continue its calls that members’ rights to privacy be respected.
The PRDTU will soon receive a shipment of N95-type masks (also known as “respirators”) for distribution to members who want to use them. These masks were donated to the BCTF by a mask manufacturer. Please look for an email from the PRDTU with information on how to request some of these masks. Masks will be shared between members who request them and the PRDTU is expecting about 300 masks.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada:
In medical settings, N95 masks (respirators) are fit tested to ensure proper fit. Fit testing is not available in most non-medical settings. But even without fit testing, most N95 masks provide a better fit than other kinds of masks (such as cloth masks). Given this, the PRDTU continues to request that SD52 provide teachers and other staff with N95-types masks for use at work.
This week, students returned to SD52 schools. Last week, new safety measures were put in place and teachers were busy preparing our classrooms and schools for the Omicron surge. Planning for safe schools, at every stage of the pandemic, is essential for students, schools, and staff. That’s why the PRDTU continues to call on the school district to develop and communicate effective plans for keeping schools safe.
To help ensure safety for students and staff alike, the PRDTU remains committed to calling for N95 masks, improved ventilation (including the provision of portable HEPA filters where required), and faster access to boosters for school workers. Safe schools and quality education remain our priorities.
For schools to remain open for education, they must be safe. Safety must come first.
The PRDTU is aware that local schools may experience staff shortages in the days ahead. If there are not enough teachers (or other staff members) to keep schools safely open, then schools may need to shut down temporarily – until staff are able to return to work. Numbers alone can’t determine if a school is staffed safely, as students require more than “eyes-on-students” supervision. Schools provide supports for students with diverse needs, which requires that staff know the students and have relationships already in place for supporting them.
The decision of what level, and specific kind, of support students require should be made by those closest to the students. Students with special needs rely on existing relationships to have their needs supported. In addition, teachers’ professional autonomy, and other aspects of the Collective Agreement, must continue to be fully respected by SD52. Respecting the Collective Agreement is essential for ensuring that teachers’ voices as professionals continue to help guide SD52’s response to the pandemic and that resources are provided to support quality education.
We call on SD52 to provide schools, staff, and families with clear plans for how schools will remain safe, for students and staff alike, during this phase of the pandemic. These plans should include:
The PRDTU continues to call for improved safety measures in SD52 schools. We request that:
The PRDTU will continue to advocate for safe schools and for quality education for our students. We will continue our calls for needed improvements on safety and the provision of educational supports for students during all phases of the pandemic.
As teachers return to school in the midst of the Omicron surge, let’s reflect on why safe access to education matters so much for our students and our community. Keeping schools safe and open matters because education is always essential. Keeping schools safe and open for learning ensures that education can continue. Education is the essential service that schools and teachers provide.
Throughout the pandemic, the PRDTU has promoted health and safety measures for staff and students alike. We were amongst the first local teachers’ unions to advocate for universal mask mandates in schools and we proposed what has become the BCTF policy on the paramount duty of the union to protect the safety of school workers during a public health emergency. The BCTF’s current policy on responding to a public health emergency, developed by the PRDTU and approved at the BCTF Annual General Meeting, calls on the union to demand that precautionary and universal protections be provided for everyone in our schools – students and staff alike.
We will continue our union’s strong advocacy for safe schools. Given that education is always essential, the quality of the education provided throughout the pandemic matters. Our students depend on school for learning. In-person schooling works best for most students. That is why the PRDTU continues to advocate to keep schools safe for everyone, so that we can continue teaching students in schools and classrooms.
Teachers know that our students need an education to survive and thrive in the world today. That motivates us as professionals. Literacy, critical thinking, and knowledge are especially important today, as students will enter a world full of misinformation. We’ll all depend on our future leaders having the skills and knowledge to value and understand science, democracy, and public institutions. Students also rely on schools for a safe place to be, for access to healthy food, and to be part of a supportive and caring community.
Schools are communities of people – all of whom are connected to the larger community. Schools depend on the people in them to be safe. The safety of school workers is therefore a requirement for quality education to continue. Keeping schools safely open requires specific measures, such as the provision of N95-type masks, adequate ventilation and air filtration, and access to boosters – so all school workers are able to be fully (3-shot) vaccinated.
Other educational measures are important too. Schools must support students in other ways that will also be impacted by the Omicron surge. Class size, class composition, TTOC coverage, and teacher workload are important factors in quality education for all students. SD52 already started the year with over 60% of its classrooms at overcapacity levels. Even before Omicron, SD52 teachers reported a TTOC shortage that makes it hard for some leaves to be covered. Our students expect SD52 to do its job in supporting quality education throughout all phases of the pandemic. More leadership is required to overcome these and other challenges.
Teachers and others can continue to help promote the provision of quality education during the current phase of the pandemic by:
The government and school district have had time to plan for the current phase of the pandemic. We are no longer in the “early days” when there was no time to prepare. Let’s continue to insist that education be treated as the essential service that it is (and always has been).
Visit the SD52 website to read the school district’s latest update on the delayed return to school for most students. The SD52 notice is also provided below.
The BCTF sent an update to Local Presidents today with more details on the delayed start of school for most students. This update included details of the orders and guidance issued by the government to school districts. Summaries of this update are provided below. The PRDTU has not heard yet from SD52. At this time, teachers should continue to plan to report (in-person) to work on January 3, 2022, as per the school calendar.
There are two sets of guidelines/orders. One is from the Ministry of Education and the other is from the Ministry of Health. These are in addition to existing measures.
Ministry of Education New Mandates for Schools
The Ministry of Education has mandated the schools and school districts do the following things by the deadline of January 10th:
Ministry of Health New Guidelines for Schools
The Ministry of Health, through the BC Centre for Disease Control, has provided the following guidance for K-12 schools:
The above guidance is in addition to other public health measures and is in place until January 31st.