Welcome back everyone, I hope your first week back with students has gone well, and you are settling into routines? We were hopeful that this school year would be more "normal" and relaxed. Unfortunately new variants and government mandates continue to add new elements to the way we navigate working in public education. OSSTF/FEESO has advocated for the safety of workers since the COVID pandemic began. Throughout this period, the Federation has routinely consulted with an epidemiologist, a ventilation expert, legal experts, and health and safety specialists on pandemic-related issues, including the government’s recent announcement that those working for publicly funded school boards must disclose their COVID-19 vaccine status to their employer. Based on the advice received, the OSSTF/FEESO believes that school boards can require members to disclose this information. The virus and its variants are highly contagious, pose serious health hazards, and transmission is through both aerosols and droplets. Precautions must be taken in our workplaces because of these risks. Vaccination is one of the most effective precautions against COVID-19, and our membership has a very high rate of vaccination against COVID-19 – approximately 92%, according to OSSTF/FEESO members responding to a recent survey. As employers develop policies on vaccination and safe schools, we believe those policies must provide for legally required accommodations, protect the confidentiality and privacy of personal health information, and provide information about alternative measures, including but not limited to regular rapid testing for COVID. OSSTF/FEESO will continue to assess individual employer policies on a case-by-case basis to ensure that they contain the above noted features, in order to ensure the health and safety of our members, their colleagues, and the students and communities they all serve. OSSTF/FEESO has also provided our membership with information to assist them in understanding the issues of vaccination policies, exemptions and status disclosure. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to review that information, which can be found in OSSTF/FEESO COVID-19 Update #25 on the myOSSTF portal. If after reviewing OSSTF/FEESO’s FAQ documents, you continue to have specific concern(s) about your employer’s policies, you should cite the language of the policy and make us aware of your concerns on an as needed basis. Yours in Solidarity,
Upper Grand Employee Assistance Program
If you are finding yourself or a family member or a colleague is needing additional support or resources please refer to the board's employee and family assistance program. This service is free and confidential. The board is not given the names of members who are using the service. It has been a challenging year with COVID and many of us are dealing with other challenges unrelated to COVID. This resource may be of help to members who need it.
Access the Upper Grand District School Board’s Employee & Family Assistance Program 24/7 by phone, web or mobile app 1-800-387-4765 | www.workhealthlife.com