FORT FRANCES, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– The final bell may have rung on the 2020-21 school year, but education workers from schools in the Rainy River and Kenora districts are already putting their heads together to ensure a safe return to class in September.
On July 29, education support staff from the region’s school boards will meet provincial leaders from their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents over 300 school board employees at Rainy River District School Board, Northwest Catholic District School Board, and Keewatin-Patricia District School Board.
A wide range of workers – including custodians, education assistants, school secretaries, library assistants, maintenance workers, and office and clerical staff – are members of CUPE 65 and CUPE 1939. They will gather to 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 northwestern Ontario,” 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