Jeff Pelich

  • Health and safety advice for the final 4-days of school

    The WRDSB has decided to have all staff return to school beginning June 24 and has confirmed with the Region of Waterloo Public Health that the health and safety risk would remain low when school staff follow all COVID-19 protocols. However, as our region faces the increased transmission of COVID-19 variants, it will be important that all educators remain vigilant to ensure that they find ways to minimize the risk while at work. While it is impossible to eliminate all risks, below are some suggestions for members to help ensure you start your summer COVID-19 free. 

    • If you are ill, stay home. 
    • Work alone whenever possible. 
    • Continue to wear your PPE at all times (unless you are alone in your room/office with the door closed.)
    • If you share a classroom space (e.g. FDK), the following advice can help reduce the risk:
      • maintain as much physical distance as possible from your colleagues;
      • ensure that your workspace is well ventilated (open the windows if possible);
      • wear the prescribed personal protective equipment at all times;
      • take breaks and work in another space where you can be alone.
    • Create a schedule for shared workspaces (an office, supply rooms, OSR filing cabinets) to limit people working together in smaller spaces.
    • When eating, find a location where you can be alone to remove your PPE or take a break outside of the school.
    • Do not congregate in places for extended periods. 
    • On the PD Day, the board has directed that “where physical distancing can not occur for the whole staff to be together, meeting virtual is the suggested option with staff joining from their locations in the school.” If a principal believes that there is enough room to meet as a group, we encourage those members who feel uncomfortable to request that they may individually join the meeting virtually from their classrooms. 
    • When meeting your students outside, see if you can create a physical barrier between yourself and the students (a table where students/parents can place and pick up materials). The physical barrier can help ensure that you say your goodbyes from a distance. Remember that while being outdoors (while wearing PPE and distancing) is an extremely low-risk activity, staff should remain cautious and continue to follow all WRDSB protocols. 

    As always, your administrator is ultimately responsible for your safety. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact them directly in writing and ask for a response. Also, feel free to reach out to Jeff Pelich if you have any questions or concerns. 


  • Understanding Your Right to Refuse Unsafe Work

    COVID-19 cases are higher than ever, yet Ford’s conservatives continue to make reckless decisions that put ETFO members at risk.

    To keep our members informed of their right to refuse unsafe work, we are releasing a new video on the topic.

     


  • Ready to return to work off a medical leave?

    In preparation for your return, I would advise that your treating physician create a return plan based on the number of periods you can work. You are NOT limited to full days or half days as there is everything in between for a medical return to work.

    Essentially, your physician needs to create a prescription for work- what "dosage" you need and how often.

    Your return to work plan should be scheduled consecutively- starting at the beginning of the workday or working consecutively from mid-day until the end of the school day.

    For example:

    Scenario A:
    Return to work 1/2 time mornings for a period of 8 weeks.
    Return full-time week 9.

    Scenario B:
    Week 1: First 2 periods of the day (M, W, F)
    Week 2: First 2 periods of the day (full week)
    Week 3: First 3 periods of the day
    Week 4: First 4 periods of the day
    Week 5: First 5 periods of the day
    … and gradually build up to full time as slow or as fast.

    Scenario C:
    Week 1-3: Work until the 1st Nutrition Break
    Week 4-6: Work until the 2nd Nutrition Break
    Week 7: Return to work full time.

    Scenario D:
    Week 1: Last 2 periods of the day (M, W, F)
    Week 2: Last 2 periods of the day (full week)
    Week 3: Last 3 periods of the day
    Week 4: Last 4 periods of the day
    Week 5: Last 5 periods of the day
    … and gradually build up to full time as slow or as fast.

    Scenario E:
    Any other combination that you are your doctor feel is best.

    A return to work plan is fluid. It can change, speed up, slow down, plateau or stop depending on the current medical the WRDSB Wellness department has on file.

    Click here for the WRDSB Medical Assessment form that needs to be completed as part of the plan. The physician can always include additional documentation, however, the WRDSB will require their form.


  • published What is Updated Medical? in Medical and Personal Leaves 2021-04-19 10:43:11 -0400

    What is Updated Medical?

    What is updated medical?

    The WRDSB Wellness will grant a medical leave for a period of time - usually, 3-8 weeks depending on how your physician completes the Medical Assessment Form (MAF).  The WRDSB Wellness Department will indicate via laser fiche and email when they would like updated medical and this will often be a week before your current medical leave expires.  This is a normal process.

    The WRDSB Medical Assessment Form is like a workplace prescription.  There is an initial workplace prescription and because medical situations are fluid, sometimes you need a change, a different dose of work or need a refill to stay off longer.

     

    1.  Need more time off?

    If you and your treating physician feel that you need to extend your leave, then they simply need to submit another WRDSB  Medical Assessment Form to the Wellness department indicating you need more time off.  

    2.  Capable of returning part-time?

    If you and your treating physician feel that you need a different dose of work, then they simply need to submit another WRDSB Medical Assessment Form to the Wellness department indicating how long you are capable of working.  

     

    • Your part-time dose needs to be scheduled consecutively- starting at the beginning of the workday or working consecutively from mid-day until the end of the school day. 

    • Your physician will need to indicate how many periods you are capable of working.

    • The WRDSB will typically not grant a part-time medical leave for prolonged periods of time (more than 6-8 weeks)unless the physician indicates that there is the potential to increase hours.

    3. Gradual Return to Work

     

    Your treating physician/occupational therapist creates a return plan based on the number of periods you can work. You are NOT limited to full days or half days as there is everything in between for a medical return to work.

    Essentially, your physician needs to create a prescription for work- what "dosage" you need and how often. 

    Your return to work plan should be scheduled consecutively- starting at the beginning of the workday or working consecutively from mid-day until the end of the school day.

     

    For example:

     

    Scenario A:

    Return to work 1/2 time mornings for a period of 8 weeks.

    Return full time week 9.

     

    Scenario B:

    Week 1: First 2 periods of the day (M, W, F)

    Week 2: First 2 periods of the day (full week)

    Week 3: First 3 periods of the day

    Week 4: First 4 periods of the day

    Week 5: First 5 periods of the day

    … and gradually build up to full time as slow or as fast.

     

    Scenario C:

    Week 1-3: Work until the 1st Nutrition Break

    Week 4-6: Work until the 2nd Nutrition Break

    Week 7: Return to work full time.

     

    Scenario D:

    Week 1: Last 2 periods of the day (M, W, F)

    Week 2: Last 2 periods of the day (full week)

    Week 3: Last 3 periods of the day

    Week 4: Last 4 periods of the day

    Week 5: Last 5 periods of the day

    … and gradually build up to full time as slow or as fast.

     

    Scenario E:

    Any other combination that you are your doctor feel is best.

     

    A return to work plan is fluid.  It can change, speed up, slow down, plateau or stop depending on the current medical the WRDSB Wellness department has on file.


  • Rainbow Stories in Your Virtual Classroom!

    The Equity and Social Justice Committee has created a series of virtual lesson resources that connect to our Rainbow Stories on the Road program.  Rainbow Stories has traditionally offered LGBTQ2+ themed picture books and novels with options to meet the needs of all elementary grades (including French language titles).  In addition to lending book kits, we offer workshops to highlight the importance of creating inclusive classrooms and to facilitate open discussions with staff.

    Click on this link to access our Rainbow Stories Hyperdoc.  There you will find several ready-to-go lessons that are ideal for both online and in-person use.  Each lesson includes links to a digital copy of the featured book as well as a video read-aloud version.  Simply make a copy of the presentation resource and either follow along or modify to suit the needs of your class.  Stay tuned for additional lessons and resources to be added.  

    Some of our featured titles include:

     

    Click on this link to access the complete list of titles.

    Members interested in learning more or arranging a virtual workshop for their school can contact our Rainbow Stories Coordinator, Tara Duguid.


  • published Act now! in General Updates 2021-04-06 12:44:34 -0400

  • published A Lifetime of Reading 2021-03-16 10:24:28 -0400

  • published Teaching During the Pandemic - Darlene in General Updates 2021-03-01 11:16:53 -0500

    Teaching During the Pandemic - Darlene

    There have been ups and downs this year. Still, I can honestly say that having the opportunity to see my students each day, even if it’s only the top half of their face, makes me appreciate that I have the most incredible job in the world. Our children have done well considering the challenges faced as a result of COVID-19, but they still crave games together, working together, and collaborating in their work. They are behind academically, yet educators understand the critical role schools play in protecting our children’s mental health. That is as much of a priority to us as physical safety.

    Even though I have just 23 students, we cramped into a portable with less than 2 feet between desks. Furthermore, I have a student who is not required to wear a mask and cannot use sanitizer. These sorts of exemptions are challenging to manage as I worry about other students and my own family getting sick. Additionally, occasional teachers are also understandably reluctant to accept jobs that further increase their risk, resulting in added stress to my colleagues who must fill in if I need to be absent or am ill. 

    As I begin yet another science unit, I try to find ways to make students' experiences interactive. It is nearly impossible to develop these activities due to the need to adhere to our current safety protocols. Educator workload has increased while student engagement has become more challenging without the "hands-on" learning opportunities that often hook students into the curriculum.

    Group work is non-existent. Students are rarely able to discuss in small groups, solve a problem with their peers, or simply have an opportunity to ask for help from an elbow partner. When I conference with small groups of students, I am only allowed two at a time while ensuring physical distancing, which is less than half of what a typical small group would have looked like before the COVID-19 pandemic.  What used to take me a day now takes me two, meaning less time to individualized instruction for my students.

    I keep reminding myself that “this too shall end,” but I just wish we had seen some support from our Minister of Education. School staff have been finding out from a press conference that we will be moving to online learning with two days’ notice. There is a lack of support and follow-through for the many promises made by this government. Whether it’s asymptomatic testing, more public health nurses or more custodial hours for a school, educators face constant uphill battles resulting from situations outside of our classrooms, all of which make it more challenging to do our jobs. 

    Despite these challenges, my students are resilient and will look back on this year as a blip. My colleagues are amazing and dedicated. I am so proud to be an educator and consider myself lucky to be working with such an amazing group of people. 


  • Equity Minute - It's OK to be Different

    It’s Okay to Be Different / Tous différents !

     

    Check out this “ready to go” lesson plan that is perfect for teaching about diversity and respecting differences.  This slide deck includes activities and resources meant to accompany Todd Parr’s picture book “It’s Okay to Be Different” or the French language version, “Tous différents.”

     

    Both of these books are widely available in our school libraries and each slide deck includes a link to a read-aloud version.  Designed for either in-person or distance learning, you simply open the Google Presentation, make a copy, and you are ready to go!  Teacher instructions and suggestions can be found in the “speaker's notes” section of each slide.

     

     It’s Okay to Be Different                Tous différents

     

    The Equity and Social Justice Committee has created these lessons as an update to our Rainbow Stories on the Road program, which has traditionally offered LGBTQ2+ themed picture books and novels with options to meet the needs of all elementary grades (including French language titles).  In addition to lending book kits, we offer workshops to highlight the importance of creating inclusive classrooms and to facilitate open discussions with staff.

     

    Stay tuned for additional lessons and resources soon to be released.  

     

    Members interested in learning more or arranging a virtual workshop for their school can contact our Rainbow Stories Coordinator, Tara Duguid.


  • published Teaching during the Pandemic - Martin in General Updates 2021-02-08 09:45:05 -0500

    Teaching during the Pandemic - Martin

    Teaching during the Pandemic is simply not business as usual. As part of an on-going effort to share what teaching is actually like on the front lines, ETFO Waterloo asked members to share their experiences and are excited to present our "Teaching during the Pandemic: Stories from the Front of the Classroom" series to you. This submission is from local educator Martin. 

     

    Distance learning has pushed my workload higher than ever. Everything must be done upfront and uploaded before my lessons can begin.

    As a result, our teaching style has regressed and does not currently reflect best practice or sound pedagogy. It’s impossible to create or facilitate exploration of topics in the same way due to limited resources and reliance on a screen. Everything is content-driven, which is only suiting some of my learners.

    The technology is woefully inadequate for what we need to do our jobs. Classroom meetings crash or lag daily. Online activities require at least five minutes of troubleshooting before we can commence. Teachers are usually staring at a screen of black-out boxes, unable to respond to non-verbal cues that are tremendously helpful in understanding each students’ progress. Engaging and interactive remote learning requires technology that costs more than this government’s $250 Chromebook.

    Students regularly miss meetings or quickly log off after a teacher completes the lesson or instructions. They simply vanish and, as a result, will often fail to complete assignments due to the inability of the educator to provide ongoing or timely feedback. We must follow a trauma-informed approach while the mode of learning itself is only exacerbating trauma due to resulting massive gaps in a student’s learning. We cannot allow remote learning to become a norm.

    My students have expressed their dislike and apathy towards distance learning. Some have openly said they’d rather be at school. Our most vulnerable students struggle more than ever, and attendance issues have doubled in many of our classes. Distance learning does not help these students succeed, and I feel helpless as there is nothing I can do to solve this problem. These students, many with complex learning needs, will move to the next grade, but I cannot confidently tell you what their future holds.

    Ultimately I feel like distance learning is a cobbled-together, make-it-up-as-you-go-along mess. If forced to do this again next year, I will reconsider my position as an educator.

     

    Martin B. is an ETFO Waterloo member teaching within the WRDSB. We thank him for sharing his story!

    If you are an ETFO Waterloo member and would like to share your story, please click here.


  • published Teaching during the Pandemic - Justine in General Updates 2021-02-02 15:14:52 -0500

    Teaching during the Pandemic - Justine

    Teaching during the Pandemic is simply not business as usual. As part of an on-going effort to share what teaching is actually like on the front lines, ETFO Waterloo asked members to share their experiences and are excited to present our "Teaching during the Pandemic: Stories from the Front of the Classroom" series to you. Our first submission is from local educator Justine. 

     

    This year has been challenging.

    Teaching during a pandemic is not as easy as simply putting on a face mask or shield and continuing to teach in the same manner as years before. I can honestly say that my workload is exponentially higher due to having to rework all regular teaching strategies to be “Covid-friendly” ensuring physical distancing, limited shared supplies, all while implementing a brand new Math Curriculum. Add to this the stress of keeping the Google classroom up-to-date in the event of what’s happening right now.

    It is so frustrating to hear the Minister of Education and Premier talk in the media about how safe our schools are during the pandemic. I do not feel safe in the classroom, at least not with class sizes where they are at currently. Prior to the Winter Break, I was exposed to three separate confirmed COVID-19 cases. As a result, I began my holidays anxiously waiting on baited breathe to receive further information from the Region of Waterloo Public Health about my family’s next step. I did not receive a phone call from public health until a week after exposure. As part of the contact tracing process, I was asked by Public Health if I was able to maintain 6 feet distance from others while in school. I laughed, that is impossible.

    Teachers know that being in-class is the best place for our students. However, we definitely don’t have the best tools, we received no training on distance-learning, and we just keep being expected to take on more and more and more. We follow the health and safety guidelines but the basics of class size and classroom ventilation have not been addressed by our government. My school’s ventilation has not been changed in decades and the “additional funding” provided by the government did little to address this concern on the frontlines. We are stressed but expected to continue on with a smile on our faces.

    After the break, I began teaching my students online during one of the busiest months for teachers. I was expected to continue to fulfill the expectations of the curriculum, assess my students learning, and complete my report cards as if we’re not in the middle of a global pandemic. I wasn’t trained to teach online but I have been making the best of the situation. Parents are agitated, students are overwhelmed, teachers are overwhelmed and all we get is a pat on the back from the government. Online learning is chaotic, everyone is doing their best however it is near impossible to keep track of students, where they’re at, and helping when necessary.

    It’s time for the government to actually address the concerns of actual teachers and stop playing games with our students’ futures.

     

    Justine S. is an ETFO Waterloo member teaching within the WRDSB. We thank her for sharing her story!

    If you are an ETFO Waterloo member and would like to share your story, please click here.


  • published ACT NOW: PPM 164 in Member Updates 2021-02-01 15:19:38 -0500

  • published Share Your Pandemic Experience in Member Updates 2021-01-29 11:58:02 -0500

  • published Long-Term Disability in Benefits 2019-11-06 13:46:33 -0500

  • published Social Activities in Committees 2019-10-22 14:00:10 -0400

    Social Activities

    It shall be the responsibility of the Social Activities Committee to:

    • provide members, or their families, events or activities that allow them to socialize with other teachers.

    Committee Chair

    • Greg Matsuo – Parkway

    Committee Members

    • Simon Tse – William G. Davis
    • Brock Greenhalgh - Westheights
    • Jan Moyer – Forest Hill
    • Lindsay McKnight - Ed. Centre
    • Erin Peister - Parkway
    • Robyn Steffler - Forest Hill

     

    Social Activities Committee

    Terms of Reference                   

     

     


  • published Wellness in Committees 2019-10-22 13:41:23 -0400

    Wellness

    It shall be the responsibility of the Wellness Committee to:

    Committee Chair

      Committee Members

      • Earl Gunn - Ayr
      • Kim Johnstone - Bridgeport
      • Jennifer Pinder - Mackenzie King
      • Shelley Smuck - William G. Davis
      • Tanya Weissenboeck - Park Manor

      Wellness Committee

      Terms of Reference                   

       

       



    • published Summer Contact Information in General Updates 2019-06-28 09:56:04 -0400

      Summer Contact Information

      ETFO Waterloo Local Office

      Beginning Friday, June 28, the local office is closed for the summer.
      The office will be open on limited hours beginning Monday, August 26. Regular hours will resume Tuesday, September 3.
      If a member has any professional emergency over the summer, please contact the Provincial Office as outlined below.

      Requests made before Thursday, June 27 at 3 pm will be processed before the office closes on Friday. During July and August, MDF and STEL requests will continue to be received but will not be processed or formally approved until the office reopens on Monday, August 26. As these must be made electronically (see below), they will be timestamped. Please ensure that any requests submitted continue to adhere to the minimum 2-weeks in advance of the activity start date. Requests submitted closer than 2 weeks to the activity may not be approved and any requests submitted after the start of an activity will be declined. 

      ETFO Provincial Office

      Beginning Tuesday, July 2 through to Friday, August 30, the ETFO provincial office will be operating on summer hours. The switchboard will open at 8 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.
      Regular hours will resume Tuesday, September 3.