News · A Message to OSSTF/FEESO Members from the Provincial Executive



A Message to OSSTF/FEESO Members from the Provincial Executive

April 09, 2020 - Over the course of a few days in mid-March it became clear that we were facing a global crisis that would change almost every aspect of our lives, including how we approach the crucial work of educating Ontario’s students. OSSTF/FEESO’s first concern, in the midst of this uncertainty, is for the health of everyone in the education community – our members, our students, and all of our families. In the face of the current circumstance, we urge you to follow COVID-19 protocols to keep yourselves and your communities safe, and to do whatever is necessary to take care of your own health and that of your families.

From the moment this crisis began to unfold, OSSTF/FEESO has been working to protect the employment status of members and access to pay in instances where that has been threatened. By providing input to employers and government, we have made every effort to ensure that Federation voices and expertise are represented in the response to this pandemic. We will be there to ensure a safe and productive transition back to our schools and our campuses when it is safe to do so.

Federation members across the province are facing a range of entirely new personal and professional challenges. We know that the conditions under which we are currently living and working won’t last forever, but we can’t predict how long these extraordinary circumstances will continue. One thing that is abundantly clear is that COVID-19 has not diminished the desire of OSSTF/FEESO members to support the province’s students. Some of you are required to continue your work at worksites instead of from home. We thank you for your critical contribution and urge you to contact your local leadership if concerns arise.

Regardless of job class, members working from JK right through to post-secondary continue to be there for their students, and to do their part to ensure that students can continue to learn. No one is expecting that the work we deliver under these circumstances will parallel a face-to-face classroom or campus experience. Even the Minister of Education has said that “flexibility” is the key word. That means flexibility in approach and flexibility in everyone’s expectations. The distance learning model in which many members are learning to work is not some shiny new education regime predicated on e-learning. It is crisis pedagogy, a stop-gap measure to ensure that students are able to keep learning while remaining safe and healthy until this crisis has passed. Your job as OSSTF/FEESO members is simply to do your best, under circumstances that are far from ideal, to provide some stability in difficult times.

For many Ontarians, the closure of our schools has brought home to them just how important education workers and teachers are to their families and communities. But if you are going to be there for your students and for your communities, you must first ensure that you are taking care of yourselves.

Your Provincial Executive and Provincial Office staff continue to work on your behalf. We urge you to frequently check the myOSSTF section of the Federation website. You will find a series of COVID-19 Updates with important information for all members, including those who may need to access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit during this crisis. Additional updates will be issued as appropriate.

Now, possibly as much as at any other time in OSSTF/FEESO’s history, we will need to rely on our collective strength to help us through these extraordinary circumstances. It is at times such as these, in fact, that the Federation’s motto, “Let us not take thought for our separate interests, but let us help one another,” seems most poignant.

The Provincial Executive thanks you for your work, your support, and your patience as we navigate this new reality together. As the long weekend approaches we ask you to stay strong, stay safe, and above all, stay healthy.

Yours in Federation,

Harvey Bischof, President
Paul Caccamo, Vice-President
Karen Littlewood, Vice-President
Earl Burt, Treasurer
Martha Hradowy, Executive Officer
Malini Leahy, Executive Officer
Dave Warda, Executive Officer

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