Saskatchewan

STF says province has confirmed teachers will not be made to work at Sask. polling stations

A day after the chief electoral officer said he would be asking school divisions to have teachers work at polling stations, the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation says it has been told teachers will not be assigned or mandated to do so.

Elections CEO had said Tuesday he would ask school divisions to have teachers at polls

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation says it has been told by the Ministry of Education and Elections Saskatchewan that its teachers will not be assigned or mandated to work the election. (James Hopkin/CBC)

A day after the chief electoral officer said he would be asking school divisions to have teachers work at polling stations, the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation says it has been told teachers will not be assigned or mandated to do so.

"I spoke directly to the Ministry of Education, the chief electoral officer and school boards to affirm that teachers will not be mandated or assigned to work the election," said STF executive director Randy Schmaltz.

"Each organization has provided confirmation there is no intent to assign teachers to work at polling stations."

On Tuesday, Elections Saskatchewan chief electoral officer Michael Boda told CBC, "I'll be working with the directors of education across the province to determine whether teachers and support staff can work for us that day."

The government facilitated a province-wide school closure on Oct. 26 so schools could be used as polling places

Boda said teachers will have a paid professional development day and may be asked to work at polling stations to make up for an expected shortage in election day workers.

It takes 13,000 people to run an election, he said, and due to COVID-19 concerns, many past workers may opt-out.

Boda said Elections Saskatchewan will have exclusive use of school gymnasiums on advanced polling days and that students and teachers will be in school on those days.

"While school divisions are providing access to schools for polling stations, this does not include access to teachers. Elections Saskatchewan will be responsible for appropriate cleaning and disinfecting measures before students and staff return to school after the election," the STF said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Education said in a statement Wednesday that, "recognizing the need for additional space to accommodate physical distancing measures, the Ministry of Education altered the school year calendar in response to the request from Mr. Boda to ensure voters and staff had exclusive access to schools on election day to help achieve this. The Ministry of Education has no other role."

Deputy minister of Education Rob Currie sent a letter to Boda on June 11 saying that if Elections Saskatchewan wanted to ask teachers to staff polling stations, it would have to discuss it with the school divisions.

"As local boards of education have the legislated authority to act as the employer, it would be best to connect or collaborate with them on the opportunity for staff to become involved in Elections Saskatchewan," Currie said.

He said the cancellation of school on Oct. 26 may prompt school divisions to give teachers professional development days.

Currie told Boda to contact Darren McKee, the executive director of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association,  to discuss further.

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