CUPE Discussing Upcoming School Year with its Members

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Education support staff from three school boards in Windsor-Essex will be meeting Tuesday with provincial leaders from the Canadian Union of Public Employees. (CUPE)

The union wants to hear from its members and discuss their experiences while working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on AM800's The Morning Drive, Ontario School Board Council of Unions President Laura Walton says they also want to develop a reopening plan for the fall that puts students education and well-being first.

"We're coming together with the leaders right now to find out what is happening in Windsor," says Walton.  "What is important to hear in Windsor, what do we need to be talking to public health about in Windsor to ensure that our schools in Windsor or Chatham-Kent and the Sarnia area that they're safe."  

She says schools were in the same position one year ago.

"We need to get ahead of this and a year ago, I had said we have to get this right, we couldn't afford to get it wrong and sure enough that proved true," she says.  "The government didn't meet with us.  We didn't get a chance to provide feedback and lo and behold we saw what we had this year."       

Walton says the provincial government needs to involve the union in the reopening plans.

"Our hope is to be able to go around and get this information and to put it together into a document, to say hey listen, this is what actually happened, these are the folks you need to listen to," says Walton.    

Walton believes cohorting, ventilation and what does the future look like will all be discussed.

The union represents more than 1,200 school board employees in the region.

They include custodians, education assistants, secretaries, maintenance workers, early childhood educators and psychologists.

The province shifted to online learning in April after it suspended in person learning due to rising COVID cases.