COVID-19 Update for VSB Members

Thursday, May 7, 2020

FAQ Regarding In-Call and Remote Learning

Yesterday Premier John Horgan provided British Columbians with the government’s plan of how it was going to enter the next phases of COVID-19.

We are now entering Phase II of the plan, which includes the gradual reopening of schools for potential in-class learning. The Premier announced that this phase will be not be forcing anyone back. They don’t want people to feel obliged to send their children to school if they don’t feel comfortable doing that.

There will be no increase with in-class learning until after the Victoria Day long weekend and full participation is not expected until September. This will also be subject to review by the government.

It is contemplated that the phase-in for our members will be for Grades K-5, and could be a hybrid of in-class learning alongside virtual learning.

Many of you will have received a survey from Employee Services yesterday. If not please reach out to them to request yours. The purpose of the survey is to develop a list of members and their availability as we go forward in the planning process, which is estimated to take several weeks, as the Premier very wisely said that we should NOT be rushing in to this, and it is to be done properly!

You may have questions, and we will try and answer them as best we can, but please keep in mind that this is very early in the planning stage and we have questions for the employer as well. We will be working through them and updating you with as the answers come in.

Everything will be contingent upon approval from the Provincial Health Officer before proceeding.

Q.        Do I have to answer the survey?
A.         Do not answer the survey if you are physically able to attend work.
Q.        What does the survey expect to accomplish?
A.         The survey is required so the employer can have an accurate inventory of member’s availability to work in class and for those who  may not be able to.
Q.        What does available mean? Does it mean today, next week, next month, or whenever?
A.         It means currently. Technically all members, unless already on an approved leave, should be available to work either remotely or in    class as this is your normal school calendar and time to be working.
Q.        Do I have to disclose medical information?
A.         There is no requirement to provide any medical information on the survey. The question is whether you are immunocompromised or if you live with someone who is. If you are unable to physically present to school for in class learning and you are immunocompromised, it helps you to provide that answer on the survey.
Q.        What does our quarantine language in the collective agreement say?
A.         Compulsory Quarantine: “Salary for time lost due to compulsory quarantine shall be paid to permanent employees when certified by the Medical Health Officer and is NOT chargeable against sick leave.”
Q.        Can I wear a mask to work?
A.         Yes and no one can tell you to take it off! We continue to impress upon the employer their need to supply masks to our members despite Public Health saying that it is not required. The employer will be supplying gloves and hand sanitizer.
Q.        What leave banks can people use, and can we choose the bank we wish to draw from if we’re unable to participate in remote or in class learning?
A.         The union will work with you and the employer to ensure you can access the leave banks that you prefer.
Q.        I don’t want to work in class and I don’t want to work remotely. What can I do?
A.         In this case, you would have to take a leave utilizing your acquired banks or if you have no paid banks left, an unpaid leave. You could be eligible for government funded support, but you would have to contact the appropriate government agency directly to find out if you are eligible or not.
Q.        When will the “Plan” be implemented?
A.         We anticipate Grades K-5 could possibly begin following the Victoria Day long weekend, but this is still being worked on.
Q.        Does this mean there will be no further need to run child care centres in the schools?
A.         We don’t know, but we will be asking as there may still be a need for before and after school care if classes resume. We just don’t know if that is being contemplated, and if it is, what it will it look like.
Q.        The Premier said they would be expanding child care. Would that mean we would be expected to do that work?
A.         We’re seeking clarification on just exactly what that statement meant and if it was directed towards K-12 or to the regular child care operators.
Q.        We’ve heard there will be health checks upon arrival at the school. Is this true?
A.         Yes, you will be asked if you have a cough, fever, or are not feeling well. If you have either of these symptoms, you will not admitted into the school. This is for everyone’s protection.
Q.        I work in a Secondary School. When are we expected to return to in class learning?
A.         Currently the emphasis is on K-5 and not Secondary School in class learning, but depending on the planning and how things go with K-5, there may be a possibility that Secondary Schools could open up as well. It could also potentially be a hybrid model as well. The priority is to focus on our vulnerable students who may be struggling with virtual learning. But this too will require sign off from the Provincial government.
Q.        I’m not getting the emails from the union. How can I receive them?
A.         It means we do not have your current contact information. Please contact the union office at 604-879-4671 and provide your contact information or you can email the office at

While we have tried to anticipate many of your questions, we may not have addressed all of them. If the answer you are seeking is not here, please feel free to contact us at any time. But just to reiterate, none of these plans can proceed without sign off from the Provincial Health Officer.

Once again, thank you for all your hard work and effort during this very challenging time in our history. You have so much to be proud of for the work you do!

In solidarity,

Warren Williams, President
Debbie Mohabir, VSB Chief Shop Steward
Kathie Currie, Staff Representative


Measured Approach to Phasing in a Return to Learning in Classrooms.pdf96.97 KB