To members of CUPE 3913,
We have been made aware of your concerns regarding COVID, RSV, and the flu variants you may encounter in your work as a GTA, GSA, or UTA this semester, and recognize that members with disabilities may be especially impacted. We would like to offer some recommendations and information on staying safe while fulfilling your duties during W23 and beyond:
- Please communicate your health and safety concerns to the Union. We are here to serve and represent you, especially if there is a potential violation of the Collective Agreement. You may contact President Scott Duchesne (email@example.com), or Health and Safety Officer Ahmed Mahmood (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we will do everything we can to address your concerns.
- Communicate your concerns to your supervisor as early as possible to see if there is flexibility in terms of course structure (e.g., remote attendance). If TAs are required to be in-person, there may be room for some changes to help foster improved safety (e.g., meetings with students can be held virtually, ask Course Instructors to remind students about the benefits of mask wearing while in close proximity and to remind students to stay home if they are unwell).
- During your initial meeting with your supervisor to complete your Work Agreement forms, develop a contingency plan with your supervisor in case you or another TA tests positive for COVID, or comes down with RSV or the flu. Discuss how missed classes or the inability to complete grading on time will be handled. It’s important that there is a plan in place so that supervisors and the other TAs are not left to scramble, and so that you do not feel pressured to work when you are unable to.
- Take the necessary precautions – if you are able, continue to wear medical masks/PPE, practice social distancing when possible, use rapid testing, remain updated on your vaccinations and if necessary, see a doctor concerning any symptoms of RSV or flu.
- If you are sick, stay home!
- If your supervisor does not take your health and safety concerns seriously, contact President Scott Duchesne (email@example.com), or Health and Safety Officer Ahmed Mahmood (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We understand that talking about some of these issues with your supervisor might be intimidating, but supervisors need to take your health and safety concerns seriously. Here is a template message that you can use to initiate a conversation if necessary:
Dear Prof [-],
I am writing to express my concern about health and safety with respect to [insert issue]. I believe this to be unsafe because of [ – ]. I’d like to meet and discuss ways that I can work more safely while carrying out my duties.
Have a productive and safe Winter Semester.
What to do if you are sick with COVID: https://news.uoguelph.ca/covid-19/sick-exposed/
Masks up spaces at Guelph: https://news.uoguelph.ca/covid-19/spaces-events-services/
COVID support at Guelph: https://news.uoguelph.ca/covid-19/supports/
If you have any questions about COVID-19, please contact Occupational Health and Wellness at 519-824-4120, Ext. 52647.