CLAC Lauds Garden Valley School Division's Back-To-School Prep
The organization's careful planning and communication will undoubtedly alleviate much stress as schools reopen this fall
Winnipeg—CLAC, the union representing educational assistants, library technicians, school administrative assistants, and school bus drivers working within Manitoba’s Garden Valley School Division (GVSD), has expressed its appreciation for the careful planning and communication GVSD is undertaking ahead of the return to school in September, despite challenging and continually changing circumstances.
Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic created numerous hurdles to providing high-quality education to the GVSD community, its CLAC-represented workers have not experienced a wage increase since January 2018, when the expiration of their collective agreements coincided with the province’s freeze on public-sector wages.
“For the most part, our members are optimistic about returning to school,” says Geoff Dueck Thiessen, CLAC regional director and representative for GVSD. “As front-line workers, they have been flexible, often putting the needs of the school community above their own preferences. Much will be asked of these behind-the-scenes workers to ensure the learning environment and experience is as safe as possible, and they are going to do their best.”
According to Dueck Thiessen, the physical and mental health of GVSD’s front-line workers is CLAC’s main concern during the transition back to classrooms.
“CLAC is primarily interested in the physical safety of workers during the pandemic, which is of course very closely connected to the safety of students and the general public, as this is a shared public health issue,” he explains. “We are also concerned about the mental health of our members as we have now been enduring several months of worry, isolation, and uncertainty.”
Dueck Thiessen advises members to practice good mental health hygiene, including exercising, following a healthy diet, and accessing the various support systems available through CLAC. In addition, he notes that CLAC supports the recent decision by the provincial government to require masks in schools but has concerns for employees who cannot participate due to verifiable medical reasons, including mental health, and calls for provisions to be in place to accommodate those workers. In some cases, attending counselling can help ease the discomfort of wearing a mask.
For more information regarding the programs and benefits offered through CLAC, members can log in to their profile at myCLAC.ca.