July 15, 2020
Message From ETT President Jennifer Brown: Ensuring a Safe Return to Schools, Addressing YOUR Concerns
In her introductory video, newly elected ETT President Jennifer Brown addresses members’ COVID-19 health and safety concerns and outlines ETT’s continued plan of action.
“As we look ahead to the fall with trepidation and uncertainty about what lies ahead, know that I share your concerns and I understand the anxiety that is being experienced due to the lack of consistent, concrete information regarding September,” says ETT President Jennifer Brown.
“Rest assured that your safety and well-being are paramount and we will continue to advocate for what is appropriate versus what is convenient. We are doing our absolute best to safeguard the return to school plan and to ensure that it is done with care and attention to your health and safety, and fair working conditions.”
Watch the Video
ETT Takes Action
ETT President Jennifer Brown further discusses how we’re taking action to address YOUR key concerns, including:
Text of ETT President Jennifer Brown’s Video Address
My name is Jennifer Brown and I am your new ETT president.
This is my first opportunity to reach out to you to thank you for placing your trust in me to lead this organization.
On behalf of the Executive, I hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe during this time. As we look ahead to the fall with trepidation and uncertainty about what lies ahead, know that I share your concerns and I understand the anxiety that is being experienced due to the lack of consistent, concrete information regarding September.
While the ETT Office may be closed for the summer, I would like you to know that your Table Officers, Vice President Jamie Thom and Secretary-Treasurer Doris Duni, and the rest of your Executive Officers are working to ensure that whatever the September re-entry plan the Ministry and Board decide upon, members’ voices are being heard at the table.
We have been meeting with TDSB officials on a weekly basis to raise your issues of concern and to ensure that your safety is of the utmost importance and our primary focus. At these meetings, we raise concerns to ensure the safety and the rights of members are at the forefront of all of the Board’s decisions. We have raised the need for rigorous health and safety checks to address the unique conditions in every school, including:
- heating and cooling
- hand washing stations
- notice of risk
- appropriate PPE
- and more
We are also discussing the many concerns raised by members via the COVID-19 member survey on the ETT website, including equitable online workload for all educators, equitable access to technology for staff and students, and violence in the classroom.
Please continue to share your concerns so we can communicate them at our weekly meetings with the Board.
Unfortunately, at this time, the TDSB has not finalized any COVID-19 policies or protocols. This is partly due to the magnitude of the task at hand and the ever-changing information to consider.
Once a plan is finalized, it will be presented to the Trustees for approval and then submitted to the Ministry of Education. If approved by the Ministry, the plan will be communicated with all.
As information is received, it will be communicated by email via the COVID-19 portal on the ETT website, where we ask you to please continue to direct all your questions and concerns.
Rest assured that your safety and well-being are paramount and we will continue to advocate for what is appropriate versus what is convenient. We are doing our absolute best to safeguard the return to school plan and to ensure that it is done with care and attention to your health and safety, and fair working conditions.
I will conclude my message by wishing you all a safe and restful summer as we prepare for a safe return in the fall.
ETT Takes Action
Your Vice President Jamie Thom and I are meeting weekly with TDSB decision-makers to ensure a safe return to school in September.
We have raised the need for rigorous health and safety checks to address the unique conditions in every school, with a focus on appropriate PPE and additional mental health resources for members and students confronting increased stress.
Additionally, I am personally working towards my own health and safety credentials. Given the impact of the pandemic on our schools, as your ETT President it is essential that I have up-to-date knowledge of appropriate expectations, so I can fully dedicate myself to all aspects of this issue.
ETT will continue to provide updates by email and via the COVID-19 portal on the ETT website, where members can find information and resources concerning the pandemic, as well as share concerns.
This pandemic is highlighting the severe consequences of anti-Black racism.
Institutionalized racism means that COVID-19 is disproportionately killing Black and racialized people, all while Black communities continue to struggle under violence and discrimination from authorities.
We must confront and challenge this hate and dismantle systemic racism.
We need to address the problem of anti-Black racism in the TDSB, as evidenced by the deeply-distressing developments at Queen Victoria Public School, but also the alarming news out of the Peel District School Board.
I am working with Kwabena Frimpong, the Executive Liaison to the ETT Anti-Racism, Equity, and Social Justice Committee, and the TDSB, to develop and implement a number of anti-racism initiatives to address the systemic racism members experience in the workplace, including significant changes to Board policies for reporting racism.
As we reflect on our country’s achievements, on our quality of life, we cannot be complacent. The cultural genocide that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people continue to face cannot stand. We must take action.
This includes a need to address the over-policing and racism experienced by Black communities and communities of colour, including teachers, parents, and students in the TDSB.
We must also address the homophobia and transphobia prevalent in our society, as evidenced by the provincial government’s roll back of the Health and Physical Education Curriculum which has placed some of our most marginalized students at risk.
During the summer, the ETT Executive will meet to develop our strategic plan to continue to organize and build momentum with our parents and allies to defend our shared public education system against the provincial government’s insidious privatization agenda and to adequately prepare for the 2022 provincial elections and bargaining round.
We know that the challenges posed by a global pandemic only serve to exacerbate an already unprecedented political situation.
For the sake of public education, our students, and our members, we must ensure that we start the work now to defeat this government in the next Provincial Election.
Communication is vital and we want to hear from you regularly.
As such, we are currently exploring a variety of ways for you to engage with us. In addition to the four General Meetings we hold each year, we are also planning on holding virtual town halls where you can ask questions of your elected leaders, voice your concerns, and discuss issues that affect you and your working conditions.
Please know that we are working to improve our member communications, which means carefully reflecting on our existing communications infrastructure and developing new solutions to address your needs.
With the leadership of Chief Negotiator Helen Victoros, the ETT Negotiations Team continues to meet virtually with the TDSB this summer as we work to negotiate a fair deal based on our local preliminary submission.