Thank you Mr. Nelson!

We are proud to feature our member, custodian from William Cook Elementary School in Richmond, Mr. Nelson!

The students wanted to say a special thanks to Mr. Nelson for doing his best to keep them safe from the virus by cleaning the school.  CUPE members proudly deliver custodial services for School District No. 38 Richmond, and around the province.

Education Assistant Erica Macklin told us about wanting to acknowledge Mr. Nelson with a special thanks.  “Our class at Cook Elementary would like to acknowledge and thank Mr. Nelson for cleaning our school and classrooms and for helping to keep us safe.  Mr. Nelson is always super fast to refill our paper towel dispensers and soap and is always there to help as soon as we need him for anything.”

She added that Mr. Nelson “is always smiling, and we can tell that even though he is wearing a mask.  Thank you Mr. Nelson for everything that you do for us!  From Sakura Class and everyone at William Cook Elementary School.”

The students wrote thank-you notes which were posted on bulletin boards.

Paid Sick Leave during COVID 19 Pt 2

RE: Clarifying guidance for application of paid leave for isolation, quarantine and COVID-19 school closure

We have received a number of requests for clarification on paid leave. Following continued discussions with the BCPSEA, the following is guidance to CUPE K-12 staff and locals regarding the application of paid leave for isolation, quarantine and pandemic-related school closures (with clarifying language in bold):

• When a member is ill or injured (including COVID positive), sick time is still the appropriate coding for time lost. Locals should encourage members to file a Form 6 with WorkSafeBC if they contract COVID-19.
• When a member is following a requirement by public health (i.e.: health authority, public health office, Medical Health Officer), to isolate or quarantine, this time is to be coded as paid general leave, with no impact on sick banks. It is important that members get these directives in writing, as is typically provided by public health. The exception we are aware of is the Northern Health Authority (NHA) which only provides verbal direction, in which case members may be asked by their school district to complete a specific “self-declaration” for the NHA region. This includes time spent waiting for COVID test results and during worksite closures. Directives/guidance from a GP or 8-1-1 to isolate or quarantine will not be considered as an eligible directive due to the absence of evidence of a potential exposure resulting in the isolation/quarantine.
• All such paid general leave is fully funded by the Ministry, therefore this resolution will not impact district budgets and any suggestion of this resulting in cuts to hours should be resoundingly rejected.
• If a member chooses to travel to an area where quarantine will be required upon their return, this is an example of ‘avoidable’ quarantine. In this circumstance, the member cannot access paid general leave but may request access to additional vacation leave for time spent in quarantine upon their return

Example of a “self-declaration” form which may be required by your school district:

Leave Request – Employee Self-Declaration – Asymptomatic Employee Directed by a Public Health Official to Self-Isolate

In order to assist the school district in administering your leave request and to ensure that when you do return to the workplace that you are not placing yourself or others at risk, please verify and return the following self-declaration via return e-mail:

I declare that:

1. I am asymptomatic and do not show signs of COVID-19
2. I have been directed in writing by a Public Health Official to self-isolate due to potential exposure to COVID-19
a. Date written direction from Public Health Official received: ____________________
b. Duration of self-isolation directed by a Public Health Official: _______________ to _____________
3. This direction received was for me specifically, and not only for a child or other family member or person residing with me.
4. The direction from a Public Health Official to self-isolate was not related to or a result of me travelling internationally or having COVID-19 symptoms
5. If my condition changes, including from being asymptomatic (no signs of COVID-19) to that of symptomatic (showing signs of COVID-19), I will notify my supervisor immediately
6. In order to return to the workplace, I will seek advice and a clearance to return to work from a public health official or my physician
By returning this e-mail to my employer, and stating that you agree with this self-declaration: I confirm that I’m making a declaration that the details and declaration to statements 1 through 6 are true and accurate.

Additional supporting documentation may be required.

The personal information collected in this self-declaration is collected under the authority of section 26(c) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It is being collected, used and disclosed only for the purposes described in this form.

Should this general leave with pay be granted, it is understood that this general paid leave is being granted on a without prejudice basis as gratuitous to the collective agreement and is not a deduction of existing collective agreement leave banks. It is also understood that the provision of this general paid leave is subject to review and change in the future.

If in agreement with the self-declaration statements, please return the email to ______________________. When returning the e-mail, please ensure that you fill in the blanks in 2.a and 2.b and write and declare the following, “I’m self-declaring that statements 1 through 6 are true and accurate”.

Please identify any issues with applying this leave to your CUPE National Representative and we will make ourselves available to support them.

Paid Sick Leave during COVID-19 Pt. 1

With the continuation of the pandemic, CUPE has taken the position that our members should not be required to use earned sick banks or take unpaid leaves during periods of unavoidable isolation, quarantine or school closure. In order to fully support effective isolation or quarantine and thus maintain the safety of our members, school staff and students, districts should be providing wage continuity throughout these times. Employers consistently say that sick time is only to be used in cases of illness or injury, so for school districts to require the misuse of sick time (either paid or unpaid) now, is totally unacceptable. We know that members across the province face the very real issue of whether to adhere to public health orders in order to keep schools safe while balancing the decision of whether they can afford the time off required.

Here is a summary of how school districts should be treating periods of isolation or quarantine (including COVID-related school closure):

• When a member is ill or injured (including COVID positive), sick time is still the appropriate coding for time lost. Locals should encourage members to file a Form 6 with WorkSafeBC if they contract COVID-19
• When a member is following a requirement by public health or the employer to isolate or quarantine, this time is to be coded as paid general leave, with no impact on sick banks. This includes time spent waiting for COVID test results
• If a member chooses to travel to an area where quarantine will be required upon their return, this is an example of ‘avoidable’ quarantine. In this circumstance, the member cannot access paid general leave and may request access to additional vacation leave for time spent in quarantine upon their return
• Retroactive reinstatement of sick leave used prior to February 1, 2021 will not be possible broadly. Members who have been required to use sick leave or unpaid time during periods of unavoidable isolation or quarantine or COVID-related school closures should be encouraged to identify themselves to their Local, with the specific details of when the leave was improperly coded. We have received assurances that those specific cases can be resolved at a local level to make members whole
• All such paid general leave is fully funded by the Ministry, therefore this resolution will not impact district budgets and any suggestion of this resulting in cuts to hours should be resoundingly rejected. Although, we know this issue has the greatest impact on CUPE’s K-12 members, we have been informed that CUPE’s advocacy on this front will result in teachers and administrators receiving the same protections

If your members continue to experience any opposition from your employer(s), please work with your CUPE National Representative and we will continue to problem solve as necessary with BCPSEA.