Extra-curricular Activities and Committees
Balancing work commitments and personal responsibilities is important to overall wellness and should be considered by members when making decisions regarding volunteer activities. During yesterday’s COVID briefing (February 8), the CMOH announced that athletic teams can now resume/host competitions, and school districts have subsequently indicated that extra-curricular activities may resume starting on Monday, February 14, 2022. Throughout the pandemic and specifically during the most recent return to in-person learning, the Association has advocated for a more cautious and gradual approach to school re-openings with respect to both the easing of Public Health measures and the resumption of non-essential activities. This communication provides important information for NLTA members who are considering taking on volunteer roles.
- 29.03: It is agreed that extra-curricular activities are a desirable part of a well-rounded education. It is also agreed that the principal and staff of each school will determine the extra-curricular activities to be provided in their school. Notwithstanding this, a teacher’s participation in any extra-curricular activity requires that teacher’s consent.
- 29.08: A teacher’s participation on a school-based or board-based committee requires that teacher’s consent.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing Public Health state of emergency, and given the highly transmissible omicron variant, there are obvious health and safety concerns associated with bringing groups of students together, from various cohorts, for additional periods of time. Community volunteers are sometimes involved as well.
When it comes to volunteer commitments, teachers are entitled to take their own comfort level or “risk tolerance” into account and should, as always, be mindful of protecting their personal time and maintaining as reasonable a work/life balance as possible. Teacher volunteerism is always worthwhile and has a positive impact on school culture, but these are individual decisions based on personal circumstances. Having volunteered in the past does not obligate a teacher to continue in this capacity. As well, deciding not to volunteer during any particular period of time does not mean the teacher cannot choose to take on such a role in the future.
We know that all members of our school communities would like to see a return to more normal operations and interactions for everyone who learns and works in our schools, and this is only natural. There is nothing to be lost in advancing slowly, erring on the side of caution, with the goal of minimizing the chances of experiencing the types of disruptions to learning that have occurred since the onset of the pandemic. As professionals, teachers should consider what they are comfortable with and can reasonably take on, prioritize, and know that they are entitled to exercise personal discretion to set professional limits on voluntary activities at all times and for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year.