It may be summer, but local education workers are meeting to ensure a safe return to class in September. 

Provincial CUPE leaders and education support staff from all four local boards are holding in-person meetings in North Bay on Thursday. 

Custodians, office and clerical staff, maintenance workers, and technicians will share their experiences of working during the COVID-19 pandemic to help develop a plan that puts students’ education and well-being at the heart of reopening plans.

“Education workers have deep knowledge and unparalleled skills when it comes to what students need and the ways that schools work,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), which represents 55,000 CUPE education workers province-wide.

“We’ve supported students, schools, families and communities throughout the pandemic; our input is critical to a safe September. We want to make sure we’re doing our part to make schools safe places to learn and work again.”

Union officials say CUPE members have previously identified the need for increased supports to help students recover from two years of disruption to their education; and the need for other measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 in schools, including better ventilation standards, smaller class sizes, and a provincial cleaning standard.

“We will be discussing these and other issues to ensure that health, safety and the quality of students’ education are prioritized again in schools in North Bay and Nipissing,” said Walton.

CUPE represents about 350 custodial, maintenance, office, clerical staff, technicians and other workers locally.