JACFA Update on COVID-19 Response – March 20, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Since the College informed us of their plan to push ahead with online classes on March 23, we have been in contact with our union federation (FNEEQ), as well as other unions of CEGEP teachers within the réseau about this and many other issues being faced in the context of the current crisis. Through these consultations, it became clear that John Abbott was the only CÉGEP attempting to move forward with online classes on March 23. Upon this discovery, FNEEQ decided to seek further clarity of the ministerial directives.

Late yesterday afternoon, FNEEQ and the College received confirmation from the Ministry that the College could not move to an online teaching model during the week of March 23 without a written local agreement between the College and JACFA. The JACFA Executive was not prepared to sign such an agreement and FNEEQ was strongly opposed to it. As such, and as per the College’s previous communiqué, there will be no classes taught during the week of March 23.

We are mindful of the fact that there are teachers who felt ready to make the leap to online next week. In that vein, we would like to emphasize that this does not mean that all of the hard work and innovation of faculty, staff and the administration this week was wasted. Once we have clear direction from the Ministry, we could well see online classes beginning at John Abbott as soon as March 30. The JACFA Executive would not object to such an outcome.

In that spirit, we encourage everyone to continue working with their colleagues and departments, as well as with their students and the College, to prepare for the possibility of a transition toward online learning at a later date. We are heartened by the way that the entire college community has come together this week to work toward the common goal of ensuring that our students can still receive the most and best education they can under these unprecedented circumstances, while still acknowledging and supporting the limitations placed on some of our teachers (particularly parents and caregivers) by those same circumstances. That said, the situation is changing so rapidly that no one can really predict where the Ministry will be oriented tomorrow, let alone next week. We believe that taking a little extra time to adapt to the new reality is the best course for everyone.

Finally, we would once again like to acknowledge the College’s incredible efforts on behalf of faculty, staff and students. As always, it is important to note that even as we disagree on the best course of action, we do not doubt that the College has the wellbeing of all members of the college community at heart. We look forward to continuing to work with the College and with our members to navigate this crisis.   

Please take good care of yourselves and your families,