Aug 20, 2021

Clean and healthy schools priority for CUPE education workers this fall

BURNABY—The union representing over 30,000 education workers in BC public schools is calling on the provincial government to focus on providing clean and healthy environments for students and staff for the new school year. The Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling for daytime custodial services to be provided in all school districts along with mandatory masks for staff and students.

“The return of daytime custodians to BC schools during the pandemic had extremely positive results for the health of students, families, workers and communities. The services they provide are a major part of our success in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and into our communities,” says Karen Ranalletta, president of CUPE BC. “Daytime custodial services are vital to stopping the spread of diseases in schools and help reduce the amount of time staff and students miss due to illness. Our schools need these services, and they should be made permanent across the BC K-12 education system.”

In addition to daytime custodial services, CUPE is also calling for:

  • Adequate isolation protocols for students that are ill or showing symptoms, and for 2020/2021 Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety guidelines to be maintained into the new school year.
  • The province and school districts work to ensure school ventilation systems are working properly for the start of the school year, and system improvements are a priority in long-term infrastructure planning.
  • Mandatory masks in all school environments, including classrooms and buses, for staff and students.

“With the number of COVID cases still rising, and with no approved vaccine for kids under 12 years of age, a strong mask mandate across the province’s K-12 education system is a necessary precaution,” says Ranalletta. “Masks in schools, along with daytime custodial services, will ensure students have clean and healthy school environments to return to this fall, and will let families see their kids off to school with confidence they will be as safe as possible.”

CUPE is bringing these priorities directly to the BC government at the provincial K-12 Education Steering Committee. Established by the province at the start of the pandemic, CUPE representatives have been participating in the Committee advocating for CUPE members, and the students and communities they serve.

CUPE represents over 30,000 education workers across BC, including education assistants, school secretaries, custodians/caretakers, Indigenous support workers, IT workers, Strong Start facilitators, trades and maintenance workers, and bus drivers.

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