The Union representing K-12 education support staff in 25 school divisions is calling on the Government to commit to long-term funding to ensure that improvements made in September are sustainable in the years to come.
Today the Manitoba Government announced $52 million in new funding to help school divisions improve their readiness for September.
“We are pleased that the government has allocated new resources to the divisions, and that some of that has been earmarked for increased custodial staff, cleaning, buses, and education assistants,” said Abe Araya, President of CUPE Manitoba.
“We need to ensure that funding is ongoing and is also available to improve the physical learning spaces, as well as address inequities in our school system that make it harder for some students to succeed.”
While K-12 support staff are ready to get back to school and support our children’s education, workers have highlighted a few areas that require additional resources, and encourage all school divisions to consider these recommendations.
CUPE Manitoba’s K-12 school support workers would like to see additional funding allocated for:
- Hand sanitizer dispensers for every classroom and every school entrance, additional hand washing stations, and staffing to install and refill as necessary;
- Increased custodial and cleaning staff in schools to be able to keep up with greater cleaning requirements;
- Additional education assistants to help with cohorting and monitoring mask and physical distancing requirements;
- Additional education assistants to help students with special needs, language barriers, hearing disabilities, health concerns, etc.;
- Additional intercultural and community liaisons to help families with language and cultural barriers;
- Additional support staff on school buses to help ensure student compliance with mask and physical distancing requirements;
- Professional and paraprofessional support to aid students with mental health challenges, and support well-being for students and staff;
- Plexiglass barriers installed in school offices, libraries, and other staffed areas;
- Adequate masks and other personal protective equipment made available for all school support staff;
- Opening school spaces not currently used for instruction to accommodate for smaller class sizes (including additional support and cleaning);
- An audit of school ventilation systems across Manitoba, and funding to upgrade these ventilation and filtration systems where necessary. This includes replacing any windows that are unable to open;
- Clear direction on the protocol when a student exhibits symptoms while in the care of the school division. More specifically, who is responsible if a student tries to enter a school bus with symptoms and the parents are not home to receive the student who is not allowed on the school bus.
“September is approaching fast, and we want to make sure everything has been done to keep our kids safe while also providing the quality of education they deserve,” said Araya.
“There are still a few holes in the government’s back-to-school plans, and we hope the divisions are given all the resources they need to fill those holes.”
CUPE also recognizes that some school divisions have implemented some of these recommendations, and we applaud those divisions for their leadership.
CUPE represents education assistants, custodians, cleaners, school bus drivers, library technicians, intercultural and community liaisons, trades persons, office administrative staff plus more in 25 school divisions across Manitoba.