Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for September 25, 2020
Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for September 25, 2020
This Week's Focus
Preparing schools for a safe reopening next week
Thank you for empowering, organizing and engaging your members as we confront the unprecedented challenges of this pandemic. We appreciate the regular surveys that chapter leaders have submitted on building safety issues. We rely on you to flag the safety issues that must be resolved at your school. The mayor has ordered the city and the DOE to do whatever is necessary to get schools ready for the day they welcome back students. Make sure your district representative is aware of any outstanding issues with cleanliness and personal protective equipment at your school that must be addressed before students return. Next week, chapter leaders should call 212-701-9698 to report pressing safety issues. Your district rep will relay those issues to the DOE so it can get to work immediately on fixing the problems.
SBO process can be used to modify blended learning agreements
The school-based option process is now open for the 2020-21 school year. Schools may use the SBO process to modify certain contractual articles concerning teacher schedules, school workday, compensatory time positions and now the blended learning agreements. If your school community is happy with a program that does not comply with the blended learning agreements, the UFT chapter leader can conduct an SBO vote to keep the school’s instructional program and schedule in place. Elements of the blended learning agreements that can be modified through the SBO process include the instructional coordination period, the prep period, office hours, the instructional lunch, the workday, teacher programs and mixed teacher modalities (in-person, blended remote and fully remote). Live streaming is an individual teacher’s choice and should not be included in any SBO proposal. If the chapter leader and the principal are not able to agree on an SBO vote for the current instructional model, the principal may request the intervention of the superintendent and the UFT district representative to help find common ground. If no modification of the blended learning agreements is brought to an SBO vote, the blended learning agreements must be followed. If a school is not in compliance with the agreements and does not have an SBO, the chapter leader may file or continue with a complaint through the operational issues resolution process.
Know who is on your school’s COVID-19 building response team
Chapter leaders must know who is on their school's COVID-19 building response team (BRT). In addition to the regular building response team members, the COVID-19 building response team has been enhanced to include the following individuals: a school nurse, the school custodian and school safety agent(s). You can find the members of your school’s COVID-19 building response team in your school safety plan. Chapter leaders may request a copy of the staff version of the school safety plan from principals. The assignment of staff to the building response team should be a shared decision at the school level. See other safety questions and answers in the School Reopening FAQ.
Chapter Leader Checklist
- Hold your first chapter meeting: By the end of the month, if you haven’t already done so, please hold your first chapter meeting and be sure to invite all UFT members in your chapter. Virtual meetings are the safest and most inclusive. Please collect non-DOE email addresses and/or cell phone numbers for all members of your chapter for future communication.
- Welcome new members: Please invite any new hires to your chapter meetings and ask them to enroll in the UFT online if they haven’t done so yet. You can check the nonmember report in the chapter leader section of the website to see if all new hires at your school have joined the union.
- Alert members about free child care: Remind your members that the children of New York City school staff have priority in the city’s Learning Bridges child care program. Only children in 3K through 8th grade who are enrolled in the blended learning model in a New York City school are eligible to attend. Learning Bridges will provide free child care on days when these students are learning remotely. Apply for the program.
- Advocate for colleagues with at-risk family members: Make sure your principal is aware of any UFT members caring for at-risk family members at home who would like priority on any remote assignments at the school not assigned to employees with medical accommodations. Under the Sept. 24 DOE-UFT agreement, those employees should be given remote work “to the extent possible and as soon as practicable.”
Work in progress
The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate:
- Monitoring safety protocols in District 75 and early childhood centers
- Lobbying in Albany for New York City to get the authority to borrow and offer a retirement incentive in lieu of layoffs
- School secretary tenure process
School Chapters on UFT.org
You Should Know
Digital curricula for the 2020-21 school year
The UFT has collaborated with the DOE and the principals’ union to develop a plan to help educators successfully design instruction for the 2020–21 school year. The DOE, with the help of the UFT Teacher Center, has compiled a menu of standards-aligned digital curricula for core subject areas, identified a set of citywide priority learning standards for ELA and math, and created sets of learning maps targeted at specific grades and subjects.
New SESIS form for special education teachers
The DOE has launched a new special education Program Adaptations Document (PAD), which replaces the Remote Learning Plan for the 2020-21 school year. This new SESIS form is used to document how instructional programs and other special education supports and services are delivered in blended and fully remote learning environments.
Medical and Wellness
Last chance to apply for Catastrophe Major Medical Plan
Sept. 30 is the deadline for in-service UFT members to enroll in the Catastrophe Major Medical Plan. The UFT’s state affiliate NYSUT sponsors this supplemental plan that can help cover catastrophic health care costs for members and their eligible family members. It provides benefits for eligible expenses that a basic health plan may not fully cover, including prescription drugs.
Last chance to be counted in Census 2020
Make sure your members and your students' families know that the deadline to participate in the U. S. Census is fast approaching. You can complete the Census over the phone at 844-330-2020 or online in less than 10 minutes. A federal court just barred the Trump administration from ending the count on Sept. 30, a month early, but the decision is being appealed.
Prepare members to vote on Nov. 3
Make sure you and your members are registered to vote before Friday, Oct. 9. You can register online; if you register by mail, your application must be postmarked by that date. You can find everything you need to know about how to vote in the crucial November elections on the UFT website.
Salary and Personnel
New guidance on attendance, leaves and timekeeping
The DOE issued a memo on Sept. 1 updating policies regarding COVID-19 absences and leaves in the current school year. Employees who have documented positive COVID-19 tests or who are exhibiting symptoms are eligible for excused leave at full pay for up to two weeks. The guidance also details updated leave and pay policy for employees requiring excused leave to care for others.
Apply for salary increases on the DOE portal
All pedagogues and paraprofessionals who wish to apply for salary steps, differentials and upgrades must use the Salary Application Portal for DOE employees. Pedagogues have two applications: one for salary steps (outside and inside credit) and one for education (differentials). New DOE employees applying for outside experience credit must also use the portal. The site gets busy so it may be slow or freeze. Transcripts must be original; a watermark must be visible. We recommend that new employees apply for salary step placement even if they do not have prior experience.
October’s lump-sum payment and your TDA
UFT-represented employees eligible for contractual lump-sum payments who participate in the Teachers’ Retirement System or the Board of Education Retirement System may contribute a larger percentage of their pay to the Tax-Deferred Annuity for the pay period in which they receive their lump-sum payments in October. Both retirement systems allow TDA participants to increase their contribution rate for only one pay period to help build their TDA account and reduce their taxable income. TRS members may increase their lump-sum payment TDA contribution through the secure account of the TRS website using the Change Rate feature in the main menu bar. The deadline to increase your contribution rate is Wednesday, Sept. 30. BERS members should contact BERS by phone at 929-305-3800 for the deadline and forms.
Paper check distribution policy
Paper checks will be sent by mail this school year. In-person delivery of paychecks to work locations will not occur. Employees will continue to receive paper paychecks at the address they provided to the DOE last spring. No action is required unless their address has changed. New employees will receive checks at the address they gave when they were hired. Employees who receive paper checks should complete the address verification process in the DOE payroll portal if they have not already done so. For more information, read the policy memo .
Members returning from unpaid leave
UFT-represented employees returning from a leave of absence without pay are automatically removed from direct deposit for their paychecks. They must complete the address verification process and re-enroll in direct deposit from the DOE payroll portal.
Chapter Leader Communities
Share ideas with fellow chapter leaders in your district and find answers to questions about union rights and benefits.
- Tuesday, Sept. 29
Student Debt Relief Seminar
- Wednesday, Sept. 30
Member Assistance Program grief support group
- Sunday, Oct. 18
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer virtual walks