We Must Keep Each Other Safe
Given York’s lack of an adequate plan in the face of the seventh wave of COVID-19, it falls upon us as a community to keep each other safe.
The York University community is heading into a fourth academic year affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This September, next to no preventative measures will be taken by the administration: no masks, no distancing, very little remote learning, and no clear guidance on how to keep ourselves and each other safe. Those of us who are at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 are acutely aware that this pandemic is not over and can be very serious, even deadly. In the context of a pandemic, it is not enough to simply encourage everyone to make individual choices based on preference or comfort.
It’s important to recognize that the sum of our efforts affect our whole community, working to either protect or further endanger those most at risk. In the face of the York administration’s negligence, it is up to us to act in solidarity with one another so that we can face this pandemic together. Here are some basic steps we can all take to keep each other safe as we gear up for September.
Report all COVID-19 outbreaks using our reporting tool
The first step to ensuring a safe campus for us all is tracking outbreaks. In over two years of the pandemic, York has not even attempted a community-wide contact-tracing initiative. In a first step toward gathering information, we’re introducing an outbreak reporting tool.
Wear a well-fitted mask
We have known for a long time that masks significantly limit the transmission of the virus. We advise our members to wear a well-fitted mask that covers the nose and mouth in all indoor areas. We recommend disposable N95 respirators or other well-fitted, layered masks that cover the nose and mouth. Wearing your mask helps protect everyone. Members can apply to the Extended Health Benefits Fund (EHB) to help cover the cost of masks.
Vaccines decrease the possibility of the most severe symptoms of COVID-19, including risks of hospitalization and death. As the pandemic continues, new COVID variants will emerge, so it’s important to get the initial vaccine and the boosters to maximize protection. Of course, not everyone can get vaccinated. Just as with masking, getting vaccinated when you can helps protect those who can’t.
Maintain social distancing whenever possible
Limiting close contact (less than 2 meters) with others decreases the chances that you will catch or spread COVID, so you should still practice distancing yourself where possible and encourage those you share spaces with to do the same.You can request a room change through the Chair of your hiring unit. If you are not sure how to assess the safety of your classroom, contact union staff or executive officers for support.
Stay home if you’re sick
We keep our communities safe by limiting exposure to the virus. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and/or if you test positive for COVID-19 (even if you are not experiencing symptoms) please do not come to campus.
All CUPE 3903 members are entitled to paid sick leave, and you are not required to teach from home if you are unwell. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and/or if you test positive for COVID-19, you can exercise this important right by following the steps below:
- Report illness on the YUScreen tool.
- Contact your Hiring Unit (Chair of the Department you are teaching in) and let them know that you have COVID-19 symptoms and/or have tested positive for COVID-19 and that you would like to avail yourself of the paid sick leave provisions in your Collective Agreement (you are advised to copy your union representative on this email). Please note that you are not required to submit medical documentation with this request.
- Contact the Union and fill out our outbreak reporting tool.
Do you have questions about your paid sick leave entitlements? Are you being asked to teach remotely while unwell? Are you experiencing long COVID and in need of workplace accommodations? Contact the CUPE 3903 Equity Officer with questions, concerns, or to request advocacy support at email@example.com
Protect those who need it most / An injury to one is an injury to all
While many of us want to move on from what has been a very difficult few years, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic that has already cost too many people their health or even their lives. This situation is unprecedented, and we don’t yet know the full long-term effects of such a widespread illness. The reality of an infectious disease is that the decisions we make solely thinking of ourselves can have life-long consequences for others. The labour movement has always said that an injury to one is an injury to all; this remains all the more important to remember as York’s administration seemingly forgets about those who need to be protected the most.
COVID will be with us for the foreseeable future, and we must take it seriously. By taking the precautions that have been proven to limit infection, severe illness, and death, we can keep each other safe
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