Education Labour Media release

Media release: CUPE calling on Nova Scotia Public Health and Halifax Regional Education Centre to take additional preventative measures

For immediate release April 25, 2021

Halifax – With case numbers of COVID-19 escalating among school aged children and  with many new variants in the province, the risk has clearly increased, says Lisa  deMolitor, chairperson of the Nova Scotia School Board Council of Unions,  representing approximately 4,500 school support staff. However, the government has not done enough in response to reduce the risk.  

“The closure of schools, or families of schools, is only contemplated after the virus is present in a school. That is not a precautionary measure, nor is it the only step that could be taken to keep our schools safe.  

There are actions that could be implemented provincewide in the schools that are still open, to enhance safety such as: 

  • Further limiting and reducing the movement of students throughout the school • Suspending activities such as gym and band, where masks are being removed • Suspending sports practices and games, as students will not be wearing masks  and/or breathing heavily, producing more respiratory droplets 
  • Suspending use of school premises by community groups. Use of a school for  anything other than learning encourages the movement of the virus and  increases risk for school support staff who will encounter more people and who  must clean up after them. 

“While Nova Scotia Public Health makes many of the decisions that affect our schools,  they are not the only body that can take steps to reduce risk,” adds deMolitor. “From  an occupational health and safety standpoint, the Centres of Education also have a  responsibility as employers and can choose to take additional measures to keep  students and staff safe.”

“We recognize there is no easy answer and additional precautionary measures will be a further burden on students, but we fear that if schools are to remain open in regions of  the province where community spread is now occurring, more preventative measures  need be taken, to reduce the risk for students and the staff (teaching and non-teaching)  that support them,” says CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen.  

“We’re encouraged by the news that the Province can now process 15,000 tests daily, as compared to 200 tests a year ago,” says McFadgen. 

“We would like to express our gratitude to everyone in health care who is working hard  to perform testing and vaccinations,” says McFadgen. “We would also like to thank our  members – and all workers in Nova Scotia – who are providing services that we all  depend on.” 

About CUPE  

CUPE Nova Scotia is the second largest union in the province with more than 19,000  members. 

CUPE Local 5047 represents 1,600 education support staff working at 136 schools and  worksites that are part of the Halifax Regional Centre for Education. 

CUPE’s education locals, known collectively as the Nova Scotia School Board Council  of Unions, represent approximately 4,500 members working for all seven Regional  Centres of Education and the Conseil scolaire acadien, in all public schools across  Nova Scotia.