Hi! I am Steve Querengesser and I am running for 2nd VP of the BCTF because of my commitment to engagement, equity, and raising the status of the teaching profession. Read more about my priorities for the BCTF and why I am running for 2nd VP here.
The following ideas are to help generate possibilities for moving forward together. Lots more voices are needed to develop the best plan that will work for all members. I am open to other ideas and suggestions and welcome your feedback and alternatives.
I also recognize that there is no magic wand to make everything happen all at once. But with an engaged membership, democratic processes, and everyone working together, we can do this!
COVID-19 Strategic Responses
Engage, Communicate, and Protect
Read more details in the overview here.
We can engage membership and increase our capacity by:
- Forming a COVID-19 special advisory committee that brings more voices to the table when developing policies and standards in response to the pandemic.
- Ensuring that vulnerable communities and members of equity seeking groups are represented so that the rights and needs of these communities are reflected in how we respond.
- Working together in proactive ways to set the agenda for government and the public by bringing teachers’ voices to the forefront of public discussion on how to safely educate students in B.C. during the pandemic.
- These ideas and other engagement strategies are described in more detail here.
We can proactively communicate our expertise as professionals and inform members with critical information during the pandemic by:
- Utilizing a COVID-19 special advisory committee in ways that help expand the union’s communication capacity, especially so that policies, recommendations, and position statements are fully and quickly vetted by teachers so that we can rapidly respond to changing conditions based on what teachers know from working in the front lines.
- Developing and communicating messages for teachers, government, and the public through the COVID-19 special advisory committee and then mobilizing these messages through existing union platforms and networks.
- Holding regional round tables hosted by members of the COVID-19 special advisory committee, establishing rapid response protocols for communicating on key issues, notifying members of pending announcements and negotiations with government, hosting know-your-rights trainings, emailing daily or weekly COVID-19 updates to teachers, and establishing and promoting our own professional standards in response to the pandemic.
- These ideas and other communication strategies are described in more detail here.
We can help protect teachers, students, and the public from exposure to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 by:
- Informing members of their rights as workers and engaging membership through webinars on workplace safety, their right to occupational health and safety, and the process for reporting and investigating hazards and risks of exposure at work.
- Investigating more ways to protect teachers, students, and the public, such as increasing testing for teachers, providing plexiglass barriers in classrooms, increasing ventilation in classrooms without air exchanges or windows, options for outdoor teaching and learning, and other measures.
- Supporting locals to help with work at the local level, especially by supporting local officers and Occupational Health and Safety representatives at worksites.
- Advising government on how to protect teachers, students, and the public by making recommendations based on our expertise as teaching professionals.
- Developing standards of practice during COVID-19, including standards for how school districts should ensure equitable supports for all students, how to protect the rights and health of vulernable students, and for how to protect the health and safety of everyone in schools.
- Enhancing supports for Occupational Health and Safety representatives by increasing release time for trainings, forming regional networks for sharing information and resources, and working with other labour organizations to expand our capacity as a union.
- These ideas and other health and safety strategies are described in more detail here.
All levels of union leadership, both provincial and local, have been working hard during difficult times to help navigate schools through the crisis of COVID-19. Thanks to their efforts, we have made it through the first phases of the pandemic.
Now it’s time to work together to expand our capacity and prepare for what’s next. The stakes have never been higher, but thanks to the dedication of teachers, union leaders at all levels, and the hard work of BCTF staff we have what it takes to make it through this together.
COVID-19 presents huge challenges to everything about how we do our jobs and how the BCTF serves its members. We are being pushed to our limits, which requires that we expand capacity. We can do this by increasing member engagement, bringing more voices to the table, working together to develop recommendations for effective policy and standards, and protecting each other and the students in our classrooms and schools by applying our knowledge as teaching professionals.
To be clear, I certainly understand that some of these ideas will be difficult to carry out and will require working within existing BCTF policies, decision making structures, and our collective agreements with BCTF staff. All of this makes us a stronger, more inclusive, and more effective democratic union of professionals.
Read more details in the overview here.