September 2020 - Mario Vergara
“If you love the good That you see in another, You make it your own.” St. Gregory the Great
Thank you all for your support and contributions to our students, our school communities, and to our association during this turbulent year. I hope that you used the summer break to recharge your energy, spend time with your loved ones, and staying healthy.
We understand that there is considerable anxiety around school re-entry and that there is much confusion around the plan that was outlined by the Ministry of Education. Your safety is the top priority and we have been working together with our District’s senior admin, Provincial ATA, and the Ministry to voice the concerns of our members.
Some of you have been at school since last week and the rest will be returning on Thursday, August 28th. Thank you for your professionalism and dedication to our students and families. As I am sure, you are all aware by now, our students will be returning during staggered entry days from September 2nd - 4th, with a full return for all students Gr. 1 -12, scheduled for September 8th.
Allow me to tell you a few of the action items that have been going over the summer to get a better situation in your classrooms and schools. Both myself and our executive assistant Mike McFarland have been active during the COVID shutdown and extending into the summer break.
Attendance and feedback at the District’s Pandemic meetings and contributions to the School Resumption Handbook. Advocating for a shutdown of schools at the beginning of the pandemic. We were the first District to shut down schools for students and have students work from home. We were active participants in that decision.
Meeting with District Administration regarding the back to school plan after it was announced by the Province’s Ministry of Education. Advocating for better safety measures and PPE for our members. Together with our District, it was decided that masks, face-shields, and enhanced cleaning would take priority, surpassing the Provincial guidelines. None of the equipment will be at a personal cost to our members.
We were the first District in Alberta to mandate facemasks for students, K-12, for better protection.
Letter sent to Minister LaGrange, outlining our member’s concerns. Asking for solutions and calling for action on: classroom size, enhanced cleaning, enhanced and expedited testing for our members, etc.
Meeting with our MLA to advocate for our members and our Local 55 regarding our concerns.
Continue to work with the District’s Joint Health and Safety Committee over the summer break.
Met with Chief Superintendent regarding the school calendar and set September 2nd – 4th as staggered Entry Days. Meaning that the first day of school for students is September 8th.
Regarding the on-line school St. Isadora. We will continue our dialogue with the District and how it will impact our members including school positions. We expect more on this to follow as student enrollment becomes clear.
The opening of an on-line school allowed our district to keep student enrollments near the predicted numbers avoiding teacher lay-offs. The option for students to move to Alberta Distance Learning or other on-line platforms would have meant the loss of student enrollment in our District and possible job losses.
Moving forward, our Local used the summer break to move to our new office located at the Deerfoot Atrium, 340- 6815- 8 St. NE. Our phone number will remain the same (403)-265-2678.
The ratified memorandum of agreement with our district has the following noticeable benefits to our members:
PGS funding increased from $1500 to $1800 for out of province
Moving of excess funds from Professional Improvement Fund to Professional Development.
Creation of a Wellness Account to compliment the Health Spending Account (notice sent from Alberta Blue Cross directly to your email).
As your President, I will continue to advocate for our members and encourage all our teachers to work together with various education stakeholders. I look forward to working together with you in this challenging time ahead, where we will need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in defense of our students, our teachers, our classrooms, and catholic education.
Have a great start of the year day, stay safe, and may God bless the upcoming school year.
Calgary Catholic Teachers ATA Local 55
October, 2020 - Mario Vergara
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God. and the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Welcome to October!
Although it may seem like June to many of you, October is a time for giving thanks as we experience the change of seasons and hopefully take a breath to enjoy the fall colors.
Thanks to your efforts, our students are back at school, learning and having their many needs met. As educators, we understand the many benefits derived by our school communities.
Thank you for alleviating the fears and anxieties that many parents had at the beginning of September while still taking care of your own families. Thank you for taking care of each other and keeping yourself healthy.
Thank you to our CSR delegates that are bringing back our messages to your buildings and for taking the time to represent you. At this month’s meeting, Dr. B. Szumlas addressed the assembly to answer many of the questions that were brought up by you. You can see the presentation through this link on our site
Please continue to stay in touch with us and our association, we can answer your many questions and help you through challenges that you might be experiencing at your worksite. Thank you for always remaining professional. I will continue to advocate on our behalf and pray for better days ahead.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and God bless
President| Calgary Catholic Teachers’ ATA Local 55
November 6, 2020 - Mario Vergara
The Lord is my light and my salvation. Psalm 27:1
We have just celebrated Faith Days (All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day) as a school community and will soon be remembering those that have fallen for our democracy. As Catholics we will celebrate Catholic Education Sunday on November 8th. This is an important annual event that celebrates the important and critical role which our Catholic schools play in the province of Alberta. Publicly funded Catholic education is a gift, which provides faith-based education to our students. The theme this year is: Those who hope in the LORD shall renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:31). Please pray for those who advocate to ensure the future of Catholic education.
Thank you all for taking this time to step back and reflect on your accomplishments. Together we are adhering to Alberta Health and District guidelines to keep our students healthy and engaged.
It is your efforts that have contributed to the positive mental health of our students and peers. Without your dedication it would not have been possible to keep our school communities as vibrant hubs of teaching and learning.
Please continue to take care of yourselves, follow the key health measures as directed by Alberta Health Services and stay home if you are feeling ill.
I will continue to work with our district leaders to use their autonomy and flexibility to ensure that your needs are being met.
God bless and keep safe,
Mario Vergara, President Local 55.