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September 4, 2020
As summer vacation draws to a close and your attention turns towards returning to school and other fall activities, please be assured that the VSTA’s In-House Table Officers, Executive members, Staff Reps, and committee members will continue to work on your behalf to ensure the best possible teaching and learning conditions under these extraordinary circumstances. We have heard and we understand the concerns expressed to us by some regarding the reduced instructional time provided by the new schedule. Although, we hope you take comfort in knowing that the smaller student cohorts and correspondingly reduced class sizes enabled by the quarter system will permit physical distancing in classrooms and teaching spaces. That said, we know that return-to-school this year will be accompanied by more than the usual September jitters. We want you to know we are here to support you.
We have been subjected to change, disruption and discomfort. It is important that we focus on the pieces that we can control – that we be there for our students, stay connected with our colleagues and take care of ourselves. Slow down, we will get through this. Let’s just take one step at a time.
At this time, few options remain for teachers who require medical accommodation. Those who are unable to return to work without an accommodation to work remotely can either book off immediately on SFE by using code 100, Illness Personal, or contact email@example.com to indicate plans for an extended health leave or unpaid personal leave. We remain unconvinced by the employer’s position regarding accommodations and continue to assert that many students will require a remote setting to support their learning and that teachers will be needed to support these students. Funding announcements made on Thursday may increase the opportunity for remote-working options. These funding details will not be implemented for the start of school; however, we will continue to advocate for the assignment of remote work to members requiring medical accommodations.
We remain acutely aware that the challenges created by the quarter system have inequitably impacted the working lives of Part-time Teachers. We have been assured that site-based admin have been asked to work with their part-time teachers to create the most workable schedule possible for them. In many cases, these efforts may not be enough to mitigate the demands of this new schedule, especially for those members who have purposefully chosen part-time work for family, personal, professional, medical or other reasons. Please let us know if you are feeling unsupported at the school level or if there are options proposed to your administration which have been unreasonably denied; we can follow up with district management to seek solutions.
As per the collective agreement, part-time teachers will continue to be paid their FTE equally over the 20 pay periods. In most cases, this will result in pay periods during which the average FTE worked. We have reached out for advice and this pay structure is in line with BCTF recommendations and the direction taken by other districts.
Flex-Time for Program Teachers
We continue to work with the employer to ensure that Program Teachers (Life Skills, LALS) are provided flex-time to support their students. We remain concerned that a district-wide approach has not been applied. We will follow-up once we have more information.
TTOC Health & Safety Training
TTOCs will be provided with online in-service for initial Health and Safety Training. While details are yet to be finalized, we recommend that TTOC’s check their VSB email for more information. Board issued masks will be provided to you at your first assignment.
Please be conscious of the ‘higher standard’ to which teachers are held in all aspects of civic life including online communication.
Professional Standard #2:
Educators act ethically and maintain the integrity, credibility and reputation of the profession.
Teachers are expected to communicate respectfully; this is equally true for communication via email or Teams. Please be aware that the employer has access to all correspondence conducted over VSB platforms including the chat sessions attached to online meetings. They have signaled their intent to exercise the discipline-oriented articles of the CA if, in their view, correspondence is unprofessional.
District Stage 2 Safety Plan Protocols
The District has developed a COVID-19 Safety Plan, Safe Work Instruction, and Protocols document. Please inform your Health and Safety Committee Staff Co-Chair and a Staff Rep if you are concerned that these protocols are not being followed. At the provincial level, our representatives on the Health and Safety Working Group continue to advocate for staff and student safety – we are encouraged that this working group will continue to meet throughout the school year.
By now, you should have been informed which blocks are being offered in each quarter. To accommodate teachers who teach at two schools, all schools will offer Day 1 classes in Quarters 1 and 3 and Day 2 classes in Quarters 2 and 4. The quarters should be sub-divided to ensure that to within a day, both classes receive the same amount of face-to-face and remote support time. Some classes will be scheduled into one of the two daily Flex time blocks to run throughout the year. We recognize the potential workload challenges for teachers who, in a given quarter, may have two regularly-scheduled classes and a class in Flex time. Please contact us if you are concerned that the schedule has created an untenable situation for you in one or more quarters.
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