Your Association continues to raise questions and concerns regarding government’s K-12 Education Re-entry Plan. On Monday, July 27, the President and senior staff met with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, and other public health officials. Also in attendance at that meeting was the Deputy Minister of Education. While many questions still remain, Dr. Fitzgerald was able to reassure the Association that, when it comes to teachers exhibiting symptoms and being required to remain at home, from a Public Health perspective, this would only apply to new and/or worsening symptoms and would not apply to symptoms as a result of pre-existing medical conditions. On Wednesday, July 29, the President and senior staff met with the entire caucus of both the Official Opposition and the New Democratic Party, both of whom shared your Association’s concerns regarding the government’s K-12 Education Re-entry Plan and pledged to work with the NLTA. In preparation for the meetings noted above the attached document was created. It contains 42 questions that have been posed to Public Health in relation to school operations, along with a completed School Opening Risk Assessment.
Your Association continues to call for:
- Class sizes that allow for physical distancing, consistent with public health guidance for the safe operation for other organizations/activities;
- Recognition and compensation for the extra work that will be required of school administrators;
- Compensation for substitute teachers negatively impacted by the suspension on in-school instruction;
- Paid leave for teachers who are directed to remain home by the employer but otherwise are well enough to work;
- Measures to address the substitute teacher shortage;
- Enhanced staffing to ensure compliance with enhanced cleaning protocols; and
- Provision of PPE and face-masks when and where required or requested.
It is clear in the K-12 Education Re-entry Plan that this government is prepared to place children and the adults who work with them at a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 than has been accepted for other public and private sector workers and members of the general public.
The NLTA continues to dialogue regularly with both provincial school districts as they develop their plans for school opening, within the restrictions established by the provincial government. Once these plans are completed, your Association will provide detailed guidance to members. Your Association will continue to take every opportunity, both publicly and behind closed doors, to raise concerns about the safety of school re-entry in September, and is committed to providing up-to-date and accurate information.
In the coming days, the NLTA will be launching a province wide online petition for teachers and members of the general public, calling for safe schools and an independent review of the teacher allocation model. We will be calling on all members to support the petition and to assist in its distribution. In addition, to ensure government understands that NLTA’s concerns are indeed teachers’ concerns, we will be providing template emails that all members will be able to use to express their dissatisfaction with this government’s plans for school re-entry to their elected officials. As well, your Association is engaging in meetings this coming week with our sister associations throughout Atlantic Canada to develop a regional response. And, we will of course be seeking an immediate meeting with the new Premier, once confirmed, to discuss our concerns.