Dear RETTA Members,
With the recent Government announcement that schools in the North and Metro regions would be moving to Level Orange on Friday, October 23th, the results will once again impact not only our members but all staff, students, and the broader community.
The potential for this scenario has always been present, but that doesn’t make it any easier. A letter went home to parents on October 23rd, seeking input from families regarding whether or not they would be seeking remote learning for their child/children moving forward. Remote instruction, for parents who choose it, will look to commence on Monday, November 2nd.
Meanwhile, please know that your RETTA leadership has been working hard on your behalf. We hear from members who are continually asked to do more, with nothing being taken off their plates. This is concerning. As we move towards blended-learning, the likelihood of teacher burnout increases as workload grows, and expectations can become unreasonable. To ensure the success of both teachers and students as we transition to blended-learning, here are a few of the critical items we are pushing for with the division:
Time to plan for remote learning. We have confidence that we can figure all this out, but we need time. It is unrealistic to expect that teachers can shift to a blended-learning model on a dime. This is a significant change in the way the curriculum is planned and delivered. This sudden change (again) is adding immensely to teacher stress and workload.
Adequate infrastructure of technology along with resources/support/training. Without the right tools, resources, and professional development, it is much more challenging to do our jobs.
Safety is non-negotiable. The 2m requirement must be applied along with clear and consistent messaging in schools regarding the 2m distancing. All public health advice has stressed the importance of 2m of physical distance in slowing the spread. As well, teaching practices must not be compromised in creating the 2m within classes.
Members are concerned about running out of sick days. We continue to push the division to consider work-from-home options when the member isn’t necessarily sick but required by public health to stay home.
Workload cannot increase. Workload seems to be growing significantly. For many members, the workday has gotten longer, and the non-contact time shorter. We have made it – and will continue to make it – clear that this is unsustainable in the long run.
These concerns, combined with inconsistent messaging, constant pivoting, increased demands, and teachers’ inherent desire to do everything they can to ensure student success, is taking its toll on our members’ physical and mental health. Member wellness is at risk. Workload, safety and the sustainability of this situation will remain at the forefront of all discussions as we continue to deal with COVID-19.
Dialogue and communication will continue to be an essential piece as we look to manage the pandemic’s continued impact on everyone. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Chris Darazsi, President
Kirsten Mundle, Vice President