July 10, 2020
To: All Members
As members would be aware, it is the legislated right and responsibility of the NLTA, pursuant to the
Teachers’ Association Act, to advise government and the public on practical issues in education.
The NLTA had hoped that government’s K-12 Education Re-entry Plan would articulate a vision for and provide the necessary resources to ensure compliance with all public health advisories and guidance. We did not want parents, teachers and administrators faced with having to choose to ignore the sound public health advice we have all been encouraged to follow over the past several months in order to meet the societal need to have children in school.
The Association’s concerns regarding government resourcing of the public education system are also a matter of concern for the public generally and, as such, it is not unexpected that individual NLTA members may be contacted by representatives of the media for comment. It is the Association’s position that, while our members have the right to speak publicly regarding government decisions and policy, it is the elected representatives of the Association who determine the official and public positions of the NLTA. The Association has many concerns and questions arising from government’s K-12 Education Re-entry Plan and the urgency of each of these questions and concerns will be very much dependent on the public health situation when schools are re-opened. Some of these issues were outlined in President Ingram’s
on July 6, 2020. It is important that members do not make comments to the media that are or may be construed as contrary to NLTA’s position.
All employees, regardless of whom they work for, have a fiduciary responsibility not to publicly undermine confidence in their employer. Accordingly, NLTA members are also cautioned not to make any public comments that directly reflect upon their employer, in this case one of the two provincial school districts (NLESD or CSFP), without first referring to their particular district’s related policies. For example, the NLESD policy in this regard states:
“To help facilitate media requests, all media inquiries must be directed through the Communications Division, which will act as the official liaison and primary contact for media. This includes requests for interviews with board trustees, senior staff, administrators, teachers, students and support staff, as well as for information on District or school policies and procedures”.
The full NLESD policy can be accessed here:
While this policy would not apply to commenting on government decisions and public policies, members are reminded that, once engaged in an interview, you won’t know what questions may be asked or what emphasis will be placed on any answers you may provide.
Any members requested to participate in an interview with the media are strongly encouraged to consult with the President for further guidance.
We all recognize that a lack of information can increase member anxiety, and to that end the Association has committed to providing accurate updates to the membership as soon as they are available. The absence of communication on any specific issue should not be interpreted as indicating that work, advocacy and discussions are not ongoing. We are also aware that speculation, in the absence of accurate and up-to-date information, also increases member anxiety. It is therefore important for all members to be conscious of avoiding the unintended circulation of misinformation.
The NLESD has assured the Association that it values the opinions and input of its employees. Since the release of government’s K-12 Education Re-entry Plan on Monday, July 6, senior NLTA and NLESD staff have met and are developing processes to ensure consultation on all areas of Plan implementation for which the school district is responsible. Similar discussions are ongoing with the CSFP. The issues involved in these consultations are complex and varied, touching on areas in which our members have experience and expertise. In this regard, the Association is planning with NLESD to involve all NLTA Special Interest Councils in the consultation process.
Your Association appreciates members’ patience and responsiveness to NLTA calls-to-action. At this time, to ensure that members do not unintentionally contravene district policy or contradict NLTA positions, we are asking that members allow NLTA officeholders to be the spokespersons for the Association. This means the NLTA President, or any elected member of Provincial Executive, SIC President or Branch President. Provincial Executive, SIC Presidents and Branch Presidents must consult with President Ingram (
) prior to participating in a media interview, as an NLTA representative.
In these challenging and uncertain times, with more change to come, the NLTA wants to ensure consistent messaging and make certain that Association leaders have clear guidelines for speaking and access to any pertinent information as we continue to advocate in the best interests of members.
Further information can be found here: