The NBTF would like to offer the following clarifications for members regarding the announcement that teachers will gradually return to school between June 1 and June 5 to finish school work from this year and start planning for fall.
Teachers returning to school during the current COVID-19 pandemic is not a violation of the NBTF Collective Agreement. Therefore, teachers must report to their regular place of employment.
We understand that this transition may create anxiety and uncertainty; the NBTF’s priority is your health and safety. The primary focus of New Brunswick teachers must be to closely follow the recommendations of Public Health and our provincial government to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
This return does not require you to start meeting in person with students and parents during the month of June. We have been advised by EECD that schools will not reopen to students and the school calendar will not be extended.
As part of moving to phase 2 (orange) of the provincial recovery plan, schools will be required to implement additional health and safety measures prior to the return of teachers. You can find all the details in the booklet developed by WorkSafe NB (WSNB) entitled “EMBRACING THE NEW NORMAL – AS WE SAFELY RETURN TO WORK: Guidelines for New Brunswick Workplaces reopening in a COVID environment.”
This document outlines the appropriate measures for a healthy and safe workplace. All schools must have a COVID-19 Operational Plan in place and it must be shared with employees and the school’s Joint Health and Safety Committee prior to anyone’s return to the building.
The operational plan should be shared by the school administrators and should be part of an orientation session that meets the health and safety requirements.
All plans need to be produced in the event of an inspection or if a complaint is made to WSNB. Any concerns or issues of non-compliance should be brought immediately to your supervisor’s attention or the Joint Health and Safety Committee if applicable. We would encourage all members to read the above-mentioned booklet.
Please note that operational plans of school buildings for June 2020 with only teachers and school administrators will be different than what will be required for September with students.
Teachers will be required to wear a face mask where 2-metre distancing cannot be maintained in the workplace. This means that we all need to bring a non-medical mask with us to work in case it is needed just like we must do when entering any other public setting.
School administrators will ask all teachers who have pre-school or school-aged children the re-opening date for their childcare services or babysitting arrangements. This date will correspond to their date of return to the workplace.
Should you decide to keep your children at home while having access to childcare, the employer could take the position that this time will be considered leave without pay.
We are anticipating further clarification for school-based personnel on this matter from the employer.
If you have questions specific to your situation, please contact your school administrator.
Teachers who cannot report to work due to illness will use sick leave in accordance with the NBTF Collective Agreement (Article 31).
If you are on long-term sick leave and are deemed able to return to work during the month of June, you should be prepared to provide updated medical information if your return date has been extended.
If you have a documented underlying health condition as defined by the Public Health Agency of Canada, are part of a vulnerable population segment, or live with a member of a vulnerable population segment, and you are asked to report to school, please inform your school administration and provide all related medical documentation.
Should your situation remain unresolved, please contact Caroline Foisy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 506-452-1763 prior to returning to work.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, you have the right to refuse work where you have reasonable grounds for believing that an action is likely to endanger your health or safety, or the health or safety of any other employee.
Please review the Right to Refuse Key Steps developed by WorkSafeNB in the event you may be faced with this situation. The same principles apply for managing workplace health and safety and work refusals during a pandemic as they do during normal conditions.
Teachers will return to normal working hours as they were prior to the school closure.
Teaching – Teachers will complete any outstanding tasks for the school year, including finalizing home learning options, participating in professional development opportunities, and preparing for the next school year.
Report Cards – Obligations surrounding report cards will be determined by the employer. Questions should be referred to your professional association (NBTA, AEFNB).
Professional Learning – You are obligated to participate in professional learning offered during the hours of instruction. Any PL offered outside the hours of instruction is voluntary.
Staff Meetings – Staff meetings held after the hours of instruction are to be kept to a minimum and reasonable in length. All meetings scheduled during the hours of instruction are mandatory.
Extracurricular Activities – The participation of teachers in extracurricular activities is voluntary. (e.g., graduation activities)
Summer Obligations –Teachers will not be expected to work more than 195 days, as per the Collective Agreement. Therefore, this summer will be no different than other summers with regards to teacher obligations. For example, professional learning during the summer months is at the teacher’s discretion.