Union surveys Sask. teachers about return to class at request of health authority
Published Tuesday, September 29, 2020 4:47PM CST
SASKATOON -- Schools have been up and running for just over two weeks in the province, and now teachers working on the frontlines are sharing their thoughts on how its going.
At the request of the Saskatchewan Health Authority the province's teachers' union surveyed its members about returning to in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) president Patrick Maze said the survey, which wrapped up Monday, had a high participation rate and was well received by teachers although the results are not yet available.
While he says, members are often surveyed throughout the year on various issues, this one is different because it specifically addresses safety for teachers during a pandemic and says it’s a step in the right direction to ensure teacher safety.
“The survey focuses on questions like 'At your school, have you experienced the PPE that is intended to be there for your safety?' What (the Chief Medical Health Officer) is wondering is if they are making recommendations, are they turning into action at the school level.” Maze told CTV News.
Maze says this survey is an opportunity for the STF and government to see what a broad range of teachers are feeling rather than just a few who have reached out prior to the survey.
“There’s still a tremendous amount of anxiety because many teachers believed at the start that not enough was being done by the (education) ministry and the government.“
He says now when teachers are hearing about different outbreaks at different schools across the province, they are getting more concerned.
“It’s a big concern and when you’re sitting with a class size of 31 students or even if your class size is down a little bit, but you know that online learning might come to an end at some point and suddenly there will be more students in your classroom.”
The Good Spirit School Division is requiring all students at Yorkton Regional High School to learn remotely for two weeks after four individuals tested positive for COVID-19, a situation the STF president says is worrying.
Maze says teachers are also concerned that there will be a whole new set of issues once the colder weather arrives.
“Is the school’s ventilation working at capacity or is it exacerbating the issue. Are we able to open the windows and is the heating working?”
Not being able to have students distance outside will also be another issue that will need to be addressed during the colder months, he says.
Maze says the results of the survey will help guide the discussion between the school community and the government in the hopes of providing a deeper understanding of the teacher experience during this time of COVID-19.