January 1, 2021
Message From ETT President Jennifer Brown: January 4 and Pivoting to Remote
I hope you were able to enjoy some of the wonderful weather and had an opportunity to rest, relax, and rejuvenate during the winter holiday.
This school year continues to be filled with many uncertainties about what the future holds. As we continue to work through a global pandemic, and do our best to effectively carry out our professional obligations, the only thing we can be certain of is that there will be many more changes ahead.
This challenging reality stems from the fact that working during a global pandemic is brand new for everyone. There is no road map, user guide, or instructional manual. As such, members should realize that they may not be able to perform at the same standard as they normally would. Members are encouraged to adjust their expectations to reflect the current circumstances, as well as to take into consideration both their mental health and family obligations.
As the first school day approaches, the TDSB has not confirmed January 4 as a preparation day. As of the writing of this communication, we continue to negotiate the status of January 4. Members that need an alternate working space or internet access should make arrangements with their administrator(s) before January 4.
The government continues to make education decisions in a vacuum without any input from representatives of front-line workers in education. The government’s lack of respect and consideration continues to be a major concern for teachers, education workers, students, families, and communities. Rest assured that your Union will continue to advocate on your behalf.
Remote Schools refers to Brick and Mortar (B&M) schools that have pivoted to an online platform. This means remote teachers maintain their B&M school schedule/timetable. In some cases, there may need to be minor adjustments. There is no specified time requirement for synchronous or asynchronous teaching.
All Teachers, Kindergarten, Prep delivery, and Speciality programs will need to exercise their professional judgement in how they deliver and program for their students. Keep in mind that the parents/guardians of these students chose in-person schooling. Remote School is not the same as Virtual School . There is no set time requirement for synchronous and asynchronous teaching.
For example, you may wish to teach the lesson (synchronous teaching) or use Screencastify (pre-recorded lesson), and assign the follow-up work (asynchronous). Asynchronous could be Google Meet open, off-camera and muted during that time, or availability via email. This allows for students to return if they have questions during asynchronous work time.
As you may know, school boards were required by the government to ensure that special needs students were given the option of in-person learning if virtual learning was not viable. While we understand the benefits of in-class instruction and how keeping schools closed disproportionately disadvantages students with disabilities and racialized communities, we also acknowledge the impact that these decisions have on our members’ health and well-being.
ETT has been informed that Special Education students will not be in the school for the first two days. Teachers who teach these students are expected to be at the school working, as it is a full working day. Teachers will use those days to assess together with teaching partners and administration regarding the remainder of the week.
Staff who are required to be at work should review the room setup and protocols carefully, and make recommendations to the principal (increased PPE, impermeable barriers, training specific to COVID-19 protocols in a Special Education setting, etc.).
The safety plans should be reviewed to maximize all of the layers of COVID-19 safety precautions and the principal can re-evaluate any exemptions for wearing masks (a few weeks into the school year the TDSB re-assessed all of their mask exemptions and improved mask enforcement as the community risk increased). Principals should also be reminded of their responsibility to take every reasonable precaution in these circumstances.
If a member feels they have a “reason to believe” the conditions in the workplace are likely to endanger them, and they are planning to exercise their individual right to refuse work before entering the classroom, they can send their principal an email the day before.
***Reminder: any Work Refusal must be done as an individual worker.***
Workers must individually refuse work and cannot do this as a group activity or it may be seen as a wildcat strike. However, members cannot exercise their right to refuse until they arrive at the school and assess the situation. The Ministry of Labour is called if the concern is not resolved by the stage one investigation with the worker, health and safety representative, and the school board representative.
Members who feel they are being subjected to unsafe work are encouraged to contact their ETT Health and Safety Inspector for their school and complete a TDSB Health and Safety Concern Form.
Another obvious problem is that members with young children of their own will have childcare needs while elementary schools are closed.
The fact that members cannot simultaneously work with students either in-person or through remote synchronous learning while tending to their children was raised with the government. We asked for consideration regarding this issue and the government rejected that request and provided no further guidance.
Teachers who need special consideration due to family/life work situation should contact their administrator to discuss any support for exceptional circumstances.