Trent University recently announced a plan to return to in-person teaching and learning on January 31st, 2022. While current rates of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are declining slowly, Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table still stresses that reopening of schools and lessening of restrictions could quickly reverse that decline. There are also still significant unknowns about the future impacts of the disease.
CUPE 3908 is deeply concerned about Trent’s current plan. Omicron, the latest variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, is much more transmissible than earlier variants. Despite reports that suggest that Omicron causes milder disease than prior variants, that is hardly a settled fact, in particular for those who are at higher risk of severe outcomes from catching the virus.
The most prudent path forward in the face of too many remaining unknowns about the impacts of Omicron is to delay the return to in-person teaching and learning. If the university somehow finds this an unacceptable way to keep all of its staff and students safe, then the only possible secondary path is one where virtual teaching and learning remains a fully accessible and incontestable option for all. Additionally, we ask Trent University to ensure the following:
- Mandatory booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines by March 1st, 2022, in line with Fleming College’s current policy;
- Hassle-free accommodations for those who are at high risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19 or living with those who are at high risk;
- A consistent supply of N95 masks for all CUPE 3908 members–if this supply is not possible to maintain, then members must have the incontestable option to work remotely.
CUPE 3908 strongly encourages you, our members, to get your booster shots as soon as you are able to. If you begin experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and isolate. The Collective Agreements for Unit 1 and Unit 2 members guarantee paid sick leave, the former in Article 7 and the latter in Article 21. Also, follow Peterborough Public Health’s up-to-date guidelines for COVID testing.
Furthermore, please familiarize yourselves with Trent University’s current policies on case management for both students and employees. Report any infractions early and often to ensure compliance to safety guidelines in the workplace. And if you have any questions or concerns about Trent University’s reopening plan, do not hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.
Your CUPE 3908 Executive