The prospect of returning to campus in September can be stressful. It is important to acknowledge that though we have all done our best to adapt to the circumstances of the past year, it is completely normal to be experiencing some trepidation about returning to work–particularly since so many questions remain. For those of us who have been on campus for the past year, changes to physical distancing protocols and an increase in on-campus numbers might be a concern.
Your Local Executive Committee continues to represent you and your interests as September draws ever closer. The following resources have been compiled for your reference. As well, expect periodic updates over the next month as continue to work with the college for answers to your questions and concerns.
Joint Health and Safety Committees
The JHSCs are a resource members can reach out to if they have questions or concerns about their safety in the workplace. Learn more here.
As always, reach out to a union steward if you have questions or need support: SLC Faculty Local 417 Executive Committee
Working Remotely/Availability to Students
The Collective Agreement stipulates that as long as professors are available to students, professors can do their non-teaching work anywhere, including from home. This means that in-person office hours are not mandatory. See your Collective Agreement for details.
Counsellors may need to speak with their managers to facilitate remote work, if desired. The college does have a remote work policy/process.
Refusing Unsafe Work/Assessing Workplace Safety
A COVID-19 Health and Safety Rights Guide for Education Workers (Ontario Federation of Labour): Health-and-Safety-Guide-For-Education-Workers.pdf
Follow the Science. Enforce the Law. Protect Workers. (Ontario Federation of Labour): FollowTheScience-COPE.pdf
Health and Safety/Workplace Injury Reports Frequently Asked Questions
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB Ontario): FAQs about claims and COVID-19:
Vaccinated Against COVID-19? What Does It Mean to Me? (Public Health Agency of Canada)
Ventilation Checklist (COVID-19) (Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers) Available in French and English.
Labour Organizations and COVID Information/FAQ
Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU): FAQ: COVID-19 Pandemic Support for Workers:
Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL): COVID-19 Information: ofl.ca/covid-19-information
Questions Members Have for the College
The following questions have been submitted to the SLC Faculty Local 417 Executive Committee (LEC) by Local 417 members. They have been shared with college management and the Joint Health and Safety Committees. Some questions have already been answered by the college in its communications with students, staff, and faculty, but outstanding questions continue to be brought to meetings and other discussions by members of the LEC. Join the SLC Faculty Local 417 email list for updates.
Are any classroom management guidelines going to be developed and shared?
Are students able to use equipment, labs and studios? Will there be any guidelines or restrictions on their use?
Can physical assignments be submitted and assessed?
Will time needed for space and equipment cleaning be accommodated in scheduling?
What is the point of improving the HVAC system if there is no social distancing requirement? How is improving the HVAC going to address this when the contaminant buildup is at face level and related to close contact and exposure time?
What kind of compensation or accommodation will be provided to those that have difficulty with/breathing issues to start with that are compounded by wearing a mask, are claustrophobic, anxiety, etc.?
How can the college provide a safe work environment without mandatory masking and social distancing if they aren’t going to make vaccines mandatory? Public health isn’t saying the virus, especially the variant, is less contagious now but quite the opposite. So, to be safe at work we need the social distancing and masks to continue if the college doesn’t want vaccines mandatory. How are faculty to teach in the classroom without feeling safe? Can we choose to teach with Teams again?
I know that we are probably going to be expected to wear masks in the building, but does this include when teaching in larger classrooms? And if so, will we be provided with some form of amplification? I’m really concerned about the strain on people’s vocal cords, etc, especially for many who have not taught for a year and half.
Why should classes be taped for students that are not present, it has always been the student’s responsibility to get the information for missed classes from classmates; if students are not expected to be/it is not mandatory for them to attend class face-to-face, why should the professor have to be face-to-face; invasion of privacy issues for both students and faculty; etc.
What if I am not vaccinated in time?
What if I cannot be vaccinated?
Will students be required to be vaccinated?
Will class sizes be smaller?
Will classrooms be adequately ventilated?
Can I work in my shared office?
What if I feel unsafe on campus?
Can I choose to continue teaching remotely?
What happens if some or all of my students either aren’t on campus or do not feel safe coming to campus?
If I am on campus, will I be supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE)?