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Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for Oct. 28, 2020


Chapter Leader Update Snapshot
Erica Berger

MASKED UP: The staff at PS 54 on Staten Island wore matching masks to raise awareness and money to fight breast cancer. To find out about how UFT members across the city took part in the annual October fundraiser, read "Virus can't slow Strides."

This Week's Focus

The urgency of voting in this year's general election

Every day highlights the importance of the Nov. 3 election to our nation, to our members and to the school communities where we work. We need to elect a president and a Congress that will provide relief for working families and for our state and local governments and public schools. The UFT is working to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and other candidates up and down the ballot who support the union's education, economic and labor agendas. Please remind members of your chapter, your friends and your family to vote — by absentee ballot, in early voting or in person on Election Day. No one should sit on the sidelines.

Ways to Vote

Operational issues have been escalated to highest level

The UFT has now escalated hundreds of operational issue complaints filed by chapter leaders on behalf of their schools to the district, central and chancellor/UFT president's levels. UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza discussed operational issue reports involving 58 school chapters on Oct. 23. The chancellor acknowledged that all those cases violated the DOE-UFT blended learning agreements and they are in the process of being resolved. Another 150 operational issue reports are at the central level, where resolutions are being discussed. Blended learning issues have been resolved by hiring additional staff, reprogramming or using the school-based option process. The union has stated emphatically that an SBO must have the support of the chapter — members should not feel pressured to conduct an SBO vote. If you have an unresolved operational issue complaint, please make sure your district representative has all the details and as much documentation to support the issue as possible. This documentation will help expedite the resolution process. As new workplace issues arise at your school, please continue to use the union's online operational issues resolution process  (you must be logged in to see this page). Last spring the DOE and the UFT agreed to expand the scope of the operational issues process to include any issues related to remote learning, student support and contract implementation for all chapters. If the issue cannot be resolved at the school or district level, it can be escalated to the central committee, which meets every week.

Donate to the Thanksgiving coat drive for homeless students

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the crisis of homelessness in New York City public schools: More than 114,000 New York City public school students are now homeless or live in temporary housing. Help take the chill out of winter for a homeless child by making a monetary donation to support the UFT Middle School Division's Thanksgiving coat drive. This year the UFT cannot accept physical donations of winter apparel, but your monetary donation will go toward the purchase of new winter coats and accessories (scarves, mittens, gloves and hats) for New York City public school students living in homeless shelters or temporary housing. If you have any questions or concerns, contact UFT Vice President for Middle Schools Richard Mantell at

Make a donation

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • DOE new student grading policy in effect: If you are concerned about how your school is applying the DOE's new student grading policy, you should make it an item on the agenda of your next consultation committee meeting with the principal.
  • Nov. 3 is a remote learning day: Election Day is a fully remote learning day for students and staff this year. Principals should not schedule full-day professional development on Election Day for staff with educational duties. UFT-represented employees do not have to report to their school building that day. Please notify your district rep immediately if your principal is not following the DOE's guidelines.
  • Conclude your SBO list vetting and voting soon: By now, the process for considering any school-based options (SBOs) in your school should be well underway. Remember the process is slightly different this school year. Notify your district representative immediately if you wish to conduct an SBO vote. You will receive the SBO voting list for vetting and your SBO ballot will be reviewed and approved prior to the vote being scheduled. The UFT continues to use Election Buddy, an online voting platform, to conduct SBO voting. Please inform your chapter's members of the date of the vote and let them know they will receive the ballot via email or text message. Voting is from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the chosen date. You will receive your SBO vote results after the voting has been completed. District reps will help chapter leaders complete the SBO certification and ratification form. Read more about SBO options for the 2020-21 school year in the chapter leader section (you must be logged in to access it) of the UFT website.

Work in progress

The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate:

  • Winter ventilation guidelines for schools.
  • Defining remote work for specific functional chapters.
  • Roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals in 2020-21 school year.
  • Lobbying the state to pass an early retirement incentive for New York City educators.

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You Should Know

Health and Safety

What happens after school staff get tested

If you or your members recently took a COVID-19 test as part of the DOE's random testing program, the testing provider will contact you with test results by phone or email. If you test negative, the testing provider will email you your test results. If you test positive:

  • The testing provider will call you between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • The NYC Test & Trace Corps will call you to tell you about additional resources and recommendations for your next steps, including how to safely stay at home.
  • You will receive an email with your test results.

If you do not receive your results after three days, you should contact the testing provider that visited your school.

Find out what school buildings are closed

The UFT has created a search tool, updated each weekday, to look up which public schools have suspended in-person instruction and gone fully remote because of coronavirus outbreaks in their community or at their school. You can look up fully remote schools by community school district, ZIP code or school name.

Look up a school »


Special education guidance for the 2020-21 school year

The 2020-21 school year has posed significant challenges for UFT members who work with students with disabilities. The DOE and the UFT have collaborated on guidance documents on how special education instructional programs and related services are being adapted for individual students in blended and remote learning environments. These documents have been assembled in the students with disabilities section under "Teaching" on the UFT website. You'll also find information about the implementation of the Program Adaptation Document (PAD) and the Related Service Adaptation Document (RAD), guidance on hosting remote school-based IEP team meetings, guidance explaining how comprehensive data-driven assessments can be conducted remotely and through socially distanced classroom observations and clinical interviews, contact information for the DOE's Translation and Interpretation Unit and much more.

Read the updated guidance »

Political Action

Listen to Mulgrew on the 2020 election

In this episode of the UFT's "On the Record" podcast, UFT President Michael Mulgrew joins AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy to discuss the role public school educators are playing in this year's elections and how educators are sick of lip service and are demanding that their elected leaders support public education and respect the work they do. Subscribe to this UFT podcast on your favorite podcast provider to make sure you don't miss any of the upcoming episodes.

Listen to the podcast »

Salary and Personnel

Lump-sum payment visible in payroll portal

Lump-sum payments are now visible in the DOE's payroll portal. In-service members can click on their pay stubs to see the amount they will receive in their Friday, Oct. 30, paychecks. Another screen in the portal will show the full breakdown soon. If a problem with their payment arises, UFT members can call the union at 212-331-6311 and a salary representative will assist them. UFT-represented employees are receiving half of the money they are owed now and the other half in July 2021.

Schedule for lump-sum payment

The date when eligible UFT-represented DOE employees receive the first half of the final lump-sum payment depends upon their employee status. Active Q and H bank employees will be paid in their Friday, Oct. 30, paychecks. H-bank retirees and per-session employees will receive the lump sum on Monday, Nov. 2; Q-bank retirees, on Monday, Nov. 16; and F-status employees, on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Quarantine period guidelines for travel

New York State requires all travelers coming from states with significant rates of transmission of COVID-19 to quarantine for a 14-day period. If you or a member is required to quarantine upon your return after the Thanksgiving break, now is the time to make arrangements with your principal to work remotely for that time period. The DOE's Personnel Memorandum No. 2 says employees who are subject to a governmental quarantine and who cannot telework while observing the quarantine can qualify for up to two work weeks of excused leave with pay without using CAR days. Employees may not use more than two weeks of such excused leave during the current school year, so if you can't telework and you've already taken a paid COVID-19 related leave, you may have to use CAR, sick or annual leave.

Online process to document role as caregiver of at-risk family member

The DOE has created an online process for teachers to submit proof of their eligibility for consideration for a remote teaching assignment based on their status as a primary caregiver for a person at increased risk of severe illness. Teachers may submit proof of their eligibility for consideration for a remote teaching assignment using the Self-Service Online Leave Application (SOLAS). If the teacher is determined to be eligible, the DOE will notify both the teacher and the school principal. Although teachers who meet the eligibility requirements should be given priority for remote teaching positions, approval to work remotely is ultimately subject to the needs of your school.

Everything Else...

Deadline to apply for Shanker scholarship is Dec. 31

Every year, the UFT awards $1 million in scholarships to eligible New York City public high school seniors through its Albert Shanker College Scholarship Fund. This year, as unemployment because of the pandemic has skyrocketed, the need for assistance has grown. The deadline for high school seniors to apply for a $5,000 scholarship is Thursday, Dec. 31, earlier than previous years. Candidates must be accepted in a full-time, matriculated, degree-granting program at an accredited college or university. Please encourage graduating seniors to apply! Thanks for helping us spread the word about this opportunity.

Learn more »

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