Former Stanstead College employee questions quarantine

By Gordon Lambie

An encounter last week with the Head of School has a former employee of Stanstead College wondering about the reasons behind his dismissal. According to Daniel Lavoie, the school let him go citing disrespect of his given work schedule, but after no previous warnings on the subject and only days after he encountered Michael Wolfe, who was supposed to be in quarantine, working out in the school’s gym.
“I crossed him in the gym and he told me he was in quarantine and not to approach him and this and that, which I thought was weird because in quarantine you have to be in your home,” Lavoie said. “I was afraid of the health issue and bought it up to my supervisor.”
The former member of the housekeeping staff said that he was put off by the encounter because of the fact that the gyms were supposed to be closed and because he and his coworkers had not been given any kind of protective equipment to work with. He said that when he took his concerns to others people didn’t seem to take it seriously.
Ross Murray, Director of Communications for the college, confirmed that the encounter with the Head of School did take place as described but said that there was no link between it and Lavoie losing his job.
“Daniel was dismissed on Friday, which was the end of his three-month probationary period,” Murray said. “He did bring concerns about had occurred in the gym to his supervisors, but that had nothing to do with his dismissal.”
The communications director said that the run-in between Lavoie and Wolfe happened on March 31, the last day of the Head of School’s quarantine following a trip out of the country.
“He returned on March 18 and had been in quarantine at his home on campus during that time,” Murray said, adding that with the campus having been closed down, he was not aware of anywhere else Wolfe may have gone. With regard to the trip to the gym, he said that the Head of School apparently took precautions. “I’m told that he cleaned the equipment beforehand, was wearing gloves, and cleaned the equipment afterward.”
Murray also said that the school’s Human Resources manager had heard Lavoie’s concerns about health and safety that day and informed him that he could work in another area if he felt concerned.
Matters of employment aside, Lavoie’s situation is complicated by the fact that his job provided him with an apartment on campus.
“I was told I have to vacate my apartment by the end of the month,” he said. “Where will I go? I have a lease her that goes until July 1, but now they’re telling me that my apartment was related to my job, and if I’m not working here then I have to vacate the premises.”
Although inclined to fight the decision, the former employee said that he’s not sure what his rights are in this situation and cannot reach the Regie de Logement to find out.
“Everything’s shut down,” he said.
Murray said that it is not that unusual for someone hired on a probationary basis to be offered a place to live on campus if the space is available and there is a need, but he clarified that the four-month lease was indeed tied to Lavoie’s job.
“If he no longer works here, he has 30 days to vacate,” the communications director said. “The school has asked him to find a new place.”
Speaking more generally about the situation, Murray said the college will be following up with community members to make sure that people who are supposed to be in quarantine are in quarantine. He did add, however, that the number of people this would apply to is limited, and that there are very few people on the campus itself right now.
“We’ve told staff to stay out of the main building as much as possible,” he said, explaining that a skeleton crew remains in place for maintenance and security needs.

Published in the Tuesday, April 7 edition of The Record.

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