Building Security Practices and Procedures
The recent tragic loss of life at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas has us all shocked. Yet, given the frequency of such heinous events, one is left to wonder why anyone would be shocked at all. As we all know through our practice, the incidence of workplace violence in schools has been increasing over the years. And, despite our tendencies to think of Canada as a land with gun safety, a quick search of the Google will reveal that we aren't immune to such extreme forms of violence. Violence is becoming normalized - a hazard one presumably accepts when entering the education sector. This cannot be the path forward. We can do better. The Board can do better.
In the wake of any violent act, it is imperative that the Board examine its security policies and practices to apply any learnings which might be gleaned from the event. In the case of Uvalde, it is believed that the shooter gained entry to the building through an exterior door which was not properly secured. Though questions linger on the specifics, it certainly gives reason for all schools to examine their security practices to ensure that any gaps are addressed.
In advocating for worker safety, the OECTA office reached out to the Board on May 26, the day after the Uvalde shooting, to request information about the HWCDSB building security policies and procedures. Our inquiry was met with silence. A follow-up email was sent on May 30. The Board, as of writing this, remains unresponsive, Surely, this is an easy one for the Board to knock out of the park - a softball over the middle of the plate. All exterior doors locked at all times. Keyless entry cards/fobs for all staff who rightfully ought to have access to the building. Rather than work with its partners in education, the Board chooses to ignore glaring security issues. Sadly, this is yet another example of the priority your employer places on the health and safety of education workers. Shame!
Benjamin Franklin once quipped, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." In the absence of authentic leadership, we are calling upon our members to fill the void. Examine your workplace for potential security issues including, though not limited to, exterior doors which do not latch without the need to give it a push or nudge. Report these security issues to your health and safety representative. Request that identified issues are recorded in the monthly health and safety inspection, and then check the inspection record (posted on the Health and Safety bulletin board) to ensure proper documentation. If the Board is not responding to identified concerns, contact the OECTA office for assistance. We can do better. The Board can do better. Working together, we can improve the safety of our workplaces.
Workplace Violence Reporting
Why Report Violent Incidents
In addition to being the law, reporting of workplace violence is part of a process designed to identify and manage unacceptable behaviours with a mind to minimize the potential for these behaviours to lead to further violence. Information gleaned from reporting assists in securing the supports necessary to meet the complex needs of students who display violent behaviours in your classrooms. Further to this, the Board, as an employer in Ontario, requires violence to be reported so that its strict legal duties to provide workers with a safe work environment can be met. Once aware of a hazard, the Board must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers (OHSA 25(2)(h)).
When a Violent Incident Occurs
In any given set of circumstances, a combination of the following reports may be necessary. Please note that, "A person does not need to have the capacity to understand that their behaviour could cause physical injury to a worker [for their behaviour] to be workplace violence under the OHSA." (The Road Map to Reporting Workplace Violence in Ontario School Boards: A Training Resource for Principals and Staff, 2019)
Parklane Violent Incident Report
Completed for all acts of violence which meet the definition under the law.
Speak with your principal to complete the report
Safe Schools Incident Report
Completed if a student is involved and criteria outlined on the form are met.
WSIB Form 6
Completed if injured and require healthcare and/or time away from work.
Contact the OECTA office for support.
If violence is being reported and steps are not being taken to support the student and the workers involved, please reach out to the OECTA office for guidance. Everyone has the right to a violence-free workplace!
In Harm's Way: Epidemic of Violence
In 2018-2019, Chris Bruckert, Darcy Santor & Brittany Mario, researchers at the University of Ottawa, conducted a survey respecting harassment and violence experienced by education sector workers in Ontario. The research specifically focused on the experiences of workers who are not teachers. These are our colleagues serving in roles of early childhood educators, educational assistants, youth workers, clerical, maintenance/trade, and food service workers. What is revealed by their responses to the survey is a truth that all education sector workers have known to be true for far too long - violence and harassment in Ontario schools is on the rise.
Some Key Findings
Rates of workplace violence are startlingly high and are increasing.
Rates of PTSD are shockingly high.
There is a significant risk of occupational burnout.
Violence against education sector workers is normalized and minimized.
All too often the response to violence is inaction and/or blame.
Workplace violence extracts a heavy toll from families.
Workplace harassment and violence have profound lasting impacts.
Workplace violence impacts everyone in the school community.
Women experience higher levels of harassment and violence.
One in ten participants experienced a reprisal for reporting harassment.
Workplace harassment and violence rates are correlated to incivility.
“I just want to say that schools are becoming zones of disrespect and violence. I have worked for 30 years. Kids have always had problems, but they didn't hurt their teachers.”
Read the Summary Report
Read the Full Report
Teacher Transfer Process Updates
Remaining Dates in Transfer Process
The transfer process is drawing near to its end. Some final stages remain in the process (outlined in the table) which will wrap up very shortly.
On June 8, all teachers who were not placed after round 3 (and who do not have a position for next year) will receive a list of all vacant positions.
On June 9, a Teams link will be circulated to the above-described teachers for a meeting after school to select from the available positions (selections based on seniority).
More details will come in the very near future via Board email.
From the Treasurer's Desk
With so much personal banking now being done over our cell phones, increasingly cheques are inadvertently being cashed two (or more) times. This results in problems later on while reconciling the bank statement. To assist the unit in maintaining its books, members are asked to cash cheques ASAP '(and within 6 months)., Be sure to write "void" or "cancel" on remotely cashed cheques.
2021-2022 Expenses and Mileage
All expenses and mileage claims (for union business) must be sent to the OECTA office by June 24th. Any expenses and mileage related to a specific committee must be signed for by the committee chairs before submitting to the office.
PD Funds Available
If you have taken a course which will help you to develop professionally, the unit may be able to help. PD funds (up to $250) are available for courses such as AQs, conferences, etc. Courses/Conferences must be completed by August 31 to qualify under this year's budgeted funds. Courses/Conferences after August 31 may be claimed using next year's allocated funds.
Report Card Comment Banks
Recently, the Board announced that it will be updating its Student Information System to a web-based application called Aspen. As part of the process, the database of personal report card comments teachers have crafted over the years will be migrated to Aspen. Ideally, this process will unfold without a hitch, and your personalized comments will be transferred into Aspen without any glitches. In reflection of the hours of work that goes into writing report comments, members are urged to consider the advice given in Memorandum 410 - Download and/or print your personal comment bank after you have completed your June reports.
Should you require any additional support, please submit a support request using the online helpdesk system https://helpdesk.hwcdsb.ca.
OECTA Hamilton-Wentworth Family Festival Cancelled
Please be advised that the family festival schedule for June 3 has been cancelled due to a tepid response. We hope to offer other opportunities in the future for our members to gather together and rekindle friendships.
From Your Provincial Association
Blue Jays Ticket Offer
In recognition of the amazing work of educators, the Toronto Blue Jays are offering Catholic teachers a 30% discount off select tickets for games through to June 16, 2022.
30% off tickets
select 100 level, 200 level, and 500 level seats
discount valid for all games until June 16
up to 8 tickets per game
group ticket purchases can be facilitated
offer subject to seat availability
To purchase, click the “Buy Tickets” button found HERE. All eligible games are listed, and the discount has been automatically applied.
This offer is good for all teachers and education workers.
Go Jays Go!
For Your Career
PLEASE NOTE: Office Hours Live sessions are scheduled for members to connect with experienced staff who will be able to respond to questions that may arise from the recorded presentation. The OH LIVE session is an opportunity to ask questions about how you can improve on your interview responses, or seek advice about the hiring process. Participants are expected to have previewed the presentation and come to the LIVE session prepared to ask questions, share experiences and engage in dialogue.
Office Hours Live is an opportunity for teachers to connect online with an experienced teacher leader about a particular topic. It is an opportunity to ask questions about practice and pedagogy, get advice, share teaching tips and network with other teachers. Office Hours Live provides a safe space for teachers to ask questions about topics that matter most to them. Office Hours Live is not a webinar.
Got questions? We've got answers! Check out our frequently asked questions for more information about Office Hours LIVE.
Upcoming Office Hours - Interview Skills
Impact of climate change on home insurance
Both insurers and homeowners need to consider the impact climate change will have on the future of insurance, and what they can do now to prepare for climate change-related risks. Here are steps homeowners can take to protect their homes from extreme weather conditions.
Read more at www.otip.com/article143