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COVID-19 Update

MARCH 26, 2020
Return to Work

Dear Colleague,

We know this has been a Spring Break unlike any other and that we continue to navigate in uncharted waters. The VSTA has received many emails from members and has also been in regular contact with the Board, the BCTF, and VESTA to make sure that Health & Safety is a top priority for all and to share common questions and concerns. 

In terms of Return to Work (RTW), your Administrator will be in touch with you on Friday to give more details for next week’s plan. We are confident that the VSB has made Health & Safety their top priority for next week. We do not yet know what the week after will look like, but again, Health & Safety will come first.

We know that TTOCs are especially concerned about the unexpected loss of income. We have contacted both the Board and the BCTF to advocate for some sort of compensation such as a top up. TTOCs are an integral part of our system, and VSTA is doing everything we can to advocate for them during this difficult time.

The VSTA office will be minimally staffed next week in order to ensure the Health & Safety of our Employees. We ask that you contact the office via email until we figure out our phone system. We also ask that you do not come to the office in person. If the topic warrants a phone conversation, email us and leave your number, and we will contact you by phone. 

We will be teleconferencing with our Executive Committee on Tuesday to update them on communication with the Board regarding RTW/Health and Safety and to address questions EC members may have.   

In terms of social media, Teri Mooring, BCTF President, has asked that we do not speculate online. The community will be looking to teachers to remain calm and positive. We remind you not to contact Senior Management directly via Social Media or via email – the Union represents teachers to the Employer. If there is something you would like us to communicate directly to the Employer, please let us know. A reminder also not to post or write anything that could be considered to be critical of the Employer.

For those of you struggling with anxiety, a completely normal response at this time, consider using Starling Minds to help mitigate it.

We will be sending out regular updates to members directly and also via Staff Reps/Health & Safety Reps as needs be.

Please take good care of yourself and know that we are not expected to rush to figure out how to manage everything in this time of uncertainty. As Teri Mooring has stated, we are in this for the long haul, there is no rush and we will move slowly and safely together through these difficult times.  

In solidarity,
Katharine, Treena and Terry

MARCH 25, 2020

Email to: School Based Staff (Teachers & Support Staff)
From: David Nelson, Deputy Superintendent

We would like to acknowledge the uncertainty and ambiguity felt by many members of our staff in advance of Monday, March 30.  District staff have been consulting with unions and stakeholder leadership, liaising with other school districts and in discussions with Vancouver Coastal Health.  Your safety and well-being is our top priority and we have taken the time necessary to be thoughtful in our decisions. 

The intent of this email is to provide an update on plans for school operations following this final week of spring break.

As stated, District staff have been in contact with presidents of local unions and associations to discuss plans for schools starting Monday, March 30, 2020. In those conversations we shared the following guiding principles that helped shape our discussions and decisions: 

1. Ensure the health and safety of all students, staff and school communities.

2. Implement systems and structures within our current context to ensure timely, thoughtful and transparent communication with staff, students and the broader school communities.

3. Develop opportunities for all students and staff to stay connected to maintain a sense of belonging, value and community.

4. Support all learners through the provision of continuous learning opportunities during the suspension of in-person classes.

Tomorrow (Thursday, March 26) principals and vice principals will participate in an on-line meeting to continue planning for Monday, March 30. As part of this meeting, administrators will discuss plans for next week.

Please note that all school-based principals and vice principals will update school-based staff, via email, on plans for the week of March 30 – April 3 on Friday, March 27.  Please watch for this email.

At this time, I want to let you know that most school-based staff are not being asked to report to school sites next week (March 30 to April 3).  A very small number of school-based staff may be asked to report to school sites next week to assist with essential school functions.  In these instances staff will be contacted directly by their principal/vice principal.  Please know that the health and safety of any staff asked to report to a school site is a top priority. 

As we develop and implement plans for how we keep our school communities connected and how we ensure continuity of learning, I want to assure you that Guiding Principle #1: Ensure the health and safety of all students, staff and school communities, is key to District decision making.  Where possible, staff who can do their work from home will be permitted to work from home as we do our part to minimize social contact and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Again, I want to thank you for your patience as we work through logistics. School-based staff will receive an update with more specific information from your principal or vice principal on Friday, March 27.

Thank you,
David Nelson on behalf of the senior leadership team

MARCH 22, 2020
Joint letter from the Ministry of Education and BCTF
BCTF President Teri Mooring and Minister of Education Rob Fleming have signed a joint letter to teachers in BC about COVID-19 and its impacts on education. Please read and share this important letter.

MARCH 17, 2020

The situation is in flux and will change as events unfold. We ask all members to stay informed as the BCTF works closely with the Ministry of Education over the next few weeks. There are currently more questions than answers.

At this time teachers should be prepared to return to work after the break and continue to check both personal email for BCTF updates and VSB email for more information.
Contract teachers will be paid, however, it remains unclear if those teachers self-isolating due to out-of-country trips will be eligible for sick leave.  

TTOCs will be receiving ROEs from the VSB and be eligible for EI. More information to come.  

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Staff from Rob Fleming, BC Minister of Education, 2020-03-17
Letter to VSB Staff from Suzanne Hoffman, VSB Superintendent
, 2020-03-17
Message from Teri Mooring, BCTF President, 2020-03-17

MARCH 13, 2020

Dear Colleague,

The VSTA office has received many inquiries today regarding travel and COVID-19. The Ministry of Health has advised against non-essential travel outside of the country. At this point we have no assurance that teachers who choose to travel abroad will be able to access sick leave during self-isolation upon return.

As this global pandemic evolves, information is changing at a rapid rate and there are many questions that remain to be answered. This afternoon, the BCTF sent a message of high importance to all members with current FAQ advice from the Federation regarding travel on Spring Break. We have been in contact with the Employer regarding information they have been receiving from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.  That information has been shared with you at your worksites as well as through the letter from the Deputy Minister of Education emailed to all staff and parents.

Please check VSB email for any updates over the Break.

Please enjoy down time over Spring Break and take good care of yourself.

In Solidarity,
Katharine, Treena and Terry