A message from CUPE 4207 President Regarding the Return to In-Person Learning

A message from CUPE 4207 President Nathan Cecckin regarding the Return to In-Person Learning

Hi all,

With the return to in-person learning happening this week, it is important to be clear of the policies that will be used for the Fall term so that we are all prepared. At the same time, it is important that epidemiologists and public health experts are highly critical in the return to in-person learning too soon, especially when all Brock community members will need is the first dose to be able to go onto campus until September 28th.  With that noted, the Executive Committee and the Stewards have been working to keep member concerns on the table and to advance to protect the health and safety of members and students.

For the polices, here are important points at a glance. Please see this resource for all of the details that the Administration is putting out.

  • Self-Screening

Staff will need to complete self-screening through the Brock Safety App or on the Brock website before attending campus. You will receive a report from the app, and will need to email that report to your immediate supervisor. They will then send that report to the chair of the department or the director of the center in which you work. If you are not feeling well, then the Administration is requesting that you stay home. There won’t be monitoring at entrances, but you could be asked to provide proof of completion.

  • Community & Personal Protective Equipment

Anyone on campus will need to wear a mask, unless you have received an approved accommodation to not wear a mask. We are also working to ensure that members receive a list of students in your classes that have also received an accommodation. While it is recommended to use a medical mask, non-medical masks (cloth masks, for example) are also acceptable.

However, if you are not able to maintain at least 2 meters distance, and are working with someone who is not wearing a mask, then you also need to wear eye protection or a face shield. We have been informed that departments will provide this to members. Please contact the chair of your department for more information. If you request eye protection and are denied, please email us at info@cupe4207.org.

While there is a mask mandate, there isn’t a sense on how this will be enforced. Faculty and staff have been told that there is no expectation for us to enforce the mandate, and we are being discouraged from centering out students who are not wearing masks. Rather, we are to approach these students with compassion and understanding, although our members have not been receiving any of that. While it is true that students with accommodations should not face informal sanctions, members also have the right to work in a safe environment. We ask that you contact your immediate supervisor for a list of students who have received an accommodation to not wear a mask.

  • Physical Distancing

The provincial government has given universities everything that they had asked for – there would be no physical distancing in instructional spaces. While some universities are still honouring physical distancing requirements, and others are limiting capacity, Brock University will be aiming for 100% capacity for spaces. This will only apply to instructional space, but there isn’t clarity in how physical distancing will be made for hallways or office spaces.

  • Office Spaces

This has been a significant concern for members. In some departments, where we share office spaces, some of these spaces are used by a lot of members and the students who see us there. Initially, the Administration was committed to cleaning these spaces once per week. We have pushed hard, and Custodial Services have reassessed their position. Some departments are now being cleaned daily, especially where there is a higher volume of traffic. We are still trying to find out which departments are being cleaned more often, but it also appears that some departments are not being responsive. If you work in a department where you office is not being cleaned regularly, please email us.

In response, several departments are encouraging members to hold virtual office hours, as well. If you do not feel comfortable being in an office that may not be cleaned regularly, please ask your direct supervisor for permission to do virtual office hours. You do have the right to a safe working environment.

  • Vaccination Policy

The policy adopted by the Administration is to require either to be fully vaccinated or to aim to be have received the second dose by September 28th. Accommodations will be provided on bona fide grounds, and those receiving an accommodation would need to be tested twice per week. More details can be found in emails from Brock Communication and on the University’s website.

However, the Administration has noted that those who had signed contracts for in-person work and have chosen not to be vaccinated, then your contract would be cancelled. If you have had your contract cancelled, please email us at info@cupe4207.org. We want to ensure that your rights under the Collective Agreement are being protected.

If you have any concerns, please email us! We will also be re-opening our office on a limited capacity starting the week of September 13th. Finally, our first General Membership Meeting will be held September 16th at 5 pm.

In solidarity,
Nathan Cecckin