Screening, testing, masks, vaccines – the latest from the Ministry of Education

  Covid-19 Update

OSBCU continues to meet (virtually) with the Deputy Minister of Education every two weeks. We use
these opportunities to advocate for education workers and seek clarification on issues brought to our
attention by locals. During yesterday’s meeting, OSBCU asked for clarification on issues related to
screening, testing and masking.

These are the answers provided:

– Screening: There are no exemptions from the single-symptom screener and direction on
householder members. All asymptomatic household contacts of symptomatic individuals are
required to quarantine, without exemption, even for essential reasons, until the symptomatic
individual receives a negative COVID-19 test result, or an alternative diagnosis by a health
care professional. Education workers are not to be exempted from these screening protocols.
This information was just recently clarified with school board directors throughout the province
and it may take time for the message to circulate fully. If there are issues within a specific
board, local presidents should let OSBCU know with details and we will raise the matter with
the Ministry.

– Access to pharmacies for asymptomatic testing:
In discussions with the Crown and Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA), we have raised
concerns about the rollout of asymptomatic testing in school boards. The CTA had cited that
selected pharmacies were offering this service. Upon inspection of the website listing the
pharmacies, OSBCU raised the concern that education workers were not included in the list of
folks who could obtain asymptomatic tests at these locations. The government has confirmed
that websites should have been updated to reflect this. Please note, only pharmacies listed
are providing these tests. Your school board may also be offering testing at school sites as
well. You can access a list of pharmacies in your area via
https://covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations.

Double masking: There is no recommendation from Public Health Ontario to start double
masking. As a reminder, we will add that CUPE education workers should have a well-fitting
mask that covers the nose and mouth and to avoid touching and adjusting the mask.

Also, please remember to place and remove the mask properly and wash your hands before
and after you handle your mask.

– Vaccinations: The government has confirmed that vaccinations for education workers will
begin to roll out soon. It further clarified that priority will be giving to all adults working in
schools

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020 is “Not All Disabilities Are Visible.” CUPE recognizes the important message behind this theme. As workers and activists, we need to understand that not all disabilities are immediately noticeable – from mental illness to learning differences, diabetes, chronic pain, cognitive dysfunction and much more.

CUPE strongly supports a disability rights agenda. This commitment on the part of our union is even more urgent given the current pandemic.

COVID-19 has heightened the call for action to make Canada more inclusive, equitable and accessible. Persons with disabilities are at greater risk of contracting the virus and have a higher mortality rate than those who do not have disabilities. New safety protocols have posed additional challenges and concerns for persons with disabilities, impacting access to full participation in society. For marginalized communities that include women, Black, Indigenous, racialized and LGBTQ2+ people, these impacts are even more disproportionate.

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