Teachers: Returning to School amid COVID-19
Quick Hits, July 24, 2020
By Micah Dewey
In Quick Hits, I will be bringing up one maybe two stories that grab my attention and that I have an opinion on.
So today let’s start off with a story about teachers. My channel is usually focused on Canada and Manitoba to be specific but this story is important for teachers here in Manitoba but also in Florida and London. With re-opening moving forward more and more teachers and parents are feeling uneasy with the return to school plans of their respective governments.
The concern is growing as more and more cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed over the past several weeks. When at one point it looked like most of Canada had gotten past the virus, people were getting ready for everything to open back up then suddenly, boom, cases start rising again. One example of this is in my home province of Manitoba we had gotten all the way down to 4 active cases and 0 in the hospital on July 9th to today, 58 cases and 2 in ICU.
According to Global News Canada, the amount of parents considering homeschooling has risen in the last few months due to concerns over reopening. Uncertainty is not exclusive to parents in this situation, school districts, provincial governments, and teacher's unions also have shown some amount of uneasiness as September gets closer day by day. The Winnipeg Teachers Association received a letter relating to the reopening of schools from the Superintendent of the Winnipeg School Division with some shocking statements.
“WSD will not be providing employees with PPE such as masks and gloves, as the provincial guidelines indicate that these are not required in the normal course of their duties.”
I have a major problem with this. First off, are we willing to throw our teachers, cafeteria workers, and other administration under the bus in order to “return to normal”? I understand that the majority of people want schools to reopen, but only if it’s safe. Not providing PPE for teachers and other support staff seems absolutely not safe and could arguably be grounds for an unsafe work environment lawsuit and/or strike.
It would be slightly less of an issue if the school division was willing to extend sick days and have less stringent requirements on missing days of work but no, according to the Superintendent, “If an employee is ill…the same provisions apply as per the policies and procedures of WSD.” If this wasn’t bad enough they are still requiring a sick note if more than 3 days will need to be taken off.
“If an employee is ill…the same provisions apply as per the policies and procedures of WSD.”
So on one hand they are saying that there will be no extra protections for teachers other than hand sanitizer, and on the other hand, they are just hanging their employees out to dry with no additional coverage or protection.
Should school divisions be required to provide PPE for their employees? If you are a teacher or know a teacher how do they feel about it?