Good Evening All,
As all Nova Scotians have heard by now, COVID 19 has crept into the Education System, as it has been reported there have been two cases in schools within the Halifax Regional Center for Education.
In an effort to support our members, we have reached out to CUPE National for some guidance. They have reminded us of the Department of Education’s Framework to responding to Outbreaks:
In the event that a single case of COVID-19 is confirmed to be connected to a school, Public Health will initiate a risk assessment and provide additional guidance on required actions including ensuring that appropriate supports are in place to coordinate the response. Public Health is responsible for case management and contact follow-up of all COVID-19 cases, and for determining the need for individual or public notifications regarding cases and outbreaks. Schools should maintain daily records of class/cohort lists including location of staff and essential visitors.
Public Health actions and directions may include, but are not limited to:
• Contact tracing, which involves identifying contacts of a positive case and contacting those individuals. This includes, but may not be limited to, members of that individual’s cohort if applicable.
• Requesting records that identify cohorts/groups and class attendance of staff, students and essential visitors in the school for a specified time frame.
• Directing need for testing and isolation of individuals that may have been exposed to a
• Assessing need for enhanced environmental cleaning
• Assessing need for school closure (full or partial) Schools are expected to work with Public Health to ensure a prompt response to cases of COVID-19 that may have been exposed in or may have attended a school setting.
Recognizing that there hasn’t be any information sent to all employees of the HRCE, CUPE has spoken with the Department of Education today, and we’ve been assured that advanced notice would come to CUPE in the future, ahead of it going to the media. It is our understanding that a Communication Checklist will be created, to make sure everyone gets the necessary information in a timely fashion. As for now, we are asking that any CUPE members who work in the recently named sites that have confirmed exposures forward any correspondence to the Executive email account firstname.lastname@example.org and to our Local’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee email account email@example.com so we can best be prepared to assist with questions or concerns coming forward, and be able to see the responses that other sites may receive in advance of other clusters emerging.
*If you have concerns surrounding the safety of your work, especially those that work in the two identified sites, please do not hesitate to address them in writing with your Principal and School’s JOHSC Committee. As well you can send forward any questions to our Local’s OH&S Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
*If you are experiencing anxiety or concerns around the current state of the pandemic, please do not forget that you are not alone. There are resources we all can access during these times of struggle:
• Employee and Family Assistance Program (free for HRCE Employees) – visit https://www.workhealthlife.com/ or call 1-844-880-9137
• 211 Nova Scotia – An organization that operates 24/7 for finding services and programs offered by local community groups, non-profits and government departments – visit https://ns.211.ca/ or text 211
• Mental Health Crisis Support in Halifax – call 902-429-8167 or 1-888-429-8167 24/7
As always, should you have issues or concerns with directions given to you, or with the duties you have been assigned, you can reach out to a Shop Steward by visiting https://5047.cupe.ca/about-us/stewards/
We will make every effort to continue to provide verified information as we get it, and share it as quickly as possible.
On behalf of the Executive, our National Reps and our Shop Stewards we hope you stay stay and healthy,
CUPE Local 5047