According to CUPE Saskatchewan’s Education Workers’ Steering Committee, the patchwork approach to staffing that Saskatchewan’s school divisions are taking is putting support staff at risk from COVID-19.
“As of Monday, March 30th, there will be more than 200 different scenarios on how education support staff will be reporting for work. Some are being allowed to work from home, some have to physically report to schools, and in some cases, it is completely up to the discretion of the principal,” said Jackie Christianson, Chair of CUPE Saskatchewan’s Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “It puzzles me as to why some school divisions in our province insist on using their local autonomy to have their education support workers’ physically report to work during a pandemic.”
Cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan continue to rise, and social distancing is the recommended method for mitigating the spread of the virus.
“Education support workers have not been deemed critical/essential and our schools have not been identified by the Government of Saskatchewan as an allowable business service,” added Christianson. “How is having members physically report to school helping Saskatchewan flatten the curve on the COVID-19 pandemic?”
“How much clearer do our Prime Minister and Premier have to be with the message of Go home Stay home?” Christianson is asking the Minister of Education, Gord Wyant, to please step in, take action and provide a clear message to school divisions that it is irresponsible and reckless to have education support workers physically report to work during this pandemic crisis.
CUPE represents over 7,000 support workers in the pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 (PreK-12) education sector in Saskatchewan.