President's Message week 7

The weekend is here again!! Not much new this week but a few things to look at and be aware of. Guelph University and University of Toronto Research Study: Understanding the physical and mental health impacts of working during the COVID-19 pandemic OSSTF/FEESO continues to partner with researchers undertaking studies related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on OSSTF/FEESO members. The data gathered from these studies will help inform our responses and positions, particularly as the government continues to ignore OSSTF/FEESO’s advice regarding the safe re-opening of schools. Currently, we are encouraging all members to participate in an online survey exploring the physical and mental health impacts of working in the public education system during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey is available in both French and English and available to all members. The survey will be live from October 14, 2020 to November 27, 2020.  English: https://uoguelph.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_doK16WCeAyBDEuV French: https://uoguelph.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2ugJKCO6m422Mpn The results of this and related studies will be very useful to OSSTF/FEESO and will support our advocacy for safe working conditions for all members. Ontario’s COVID-19 School Screening Tool Employers are providing a variety of self-assessment tools for OSSTF/FEESO members to use to determine whether or not they should attend work. In general, self-assessment tools are reasonably consistent in the results that they produce. Most employers are identifying the specific tool that their employees are to use to self-assess on a daily basis. Recent concerns have come forward regarding the Ontario government’s COVID-19 school screening tool, which can be accessed online at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/. The tool is specifically designed to assess three categories of people: students; employees; and visitors. Concerns have been raised with respect to the tool’s assessment of employees. When employees use the online version of the tool, it does not ask if there is anyone in their household who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Because of this, it gives no advice with respect to what an employee who is self-assessing using the tool should do in such a situation. However, if another person assessing themselves using the tool receives a result instructing them to self-isolate and get tested, the result includes the advice that others in the household should consult with their Public Health Unit for instructions regarding attendance at work. In other words, the tool relies on those who are flagged with symptoms to tell others in their household to contact their Public Health Unit. Because of this flaw in the COVID-19 school screening tool, OSSTF/FEESO members who are using this tool to self-assess should use the tool to assess all members of their household daily, in order to receive fulsome advice on whether or not they should be attending work. If the results for any member of the household advises that household members contact their Public Health Unit to determine whether or not to attend work, members should follow that advice. 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

Yours in solidarity,

Cheryl

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