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Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for Nov. 12, 2020

Snapshot

a teacher and students wearing masks play with balloons in a school cafeteria

GYM CLASS — WITH A CATCH: Meg Carey, a physical education teacher at PS 160 in Jamaica, Queens, uses balloons as she leads her class in the cafeteria, since the school's gymnasium is being used as a classroom. (Jonathan Fickies)

This Week's Focus

Prepare for all schools to go remote if the numbers dictate it

The number of coronavirus cases in New York City is steadily rising as the long-predicted second wave hits the city. Under the state-approved safety plan that the UFT hammered out with the de Blasio administration in early September, all city schools must automatically go fully remote if the citywide positivity rate on virus tests is equal to or greater than 3%, using a rolling seven-day average. As a result of the recent uptick in COVID-19 in Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, the city's seven-day rate hit 2.6% on Tuesday, up from 2.31% a day earlier, according to city data. We must be diligent and make sure that everyone is ready to go remote if the citywide positivity rate hits 3%. Please ensure that your members have all the equipment and supplies they need to work remotely from home.

Thank you, chapter leaders, for rising to the challenge

As we approach the holidays, we often reflect on the things we are grateful for. No one deserves more appreciation than you, our chapter leaders. You are holding our schools together through a crisis and, by doing so, you are holding together our union and our city. Hopefully, your members thank you for all that you do to help them, but with everyone in survival mode, those expressions of appreciation may be few and far between. You didn’t become a UFT chapter leader for thanks or recognition, but your work needs to be acknowledged. You have taken on the responsibilities of leading your chapter in addition to the challenges of your job. You are supporting your members 24/7 and searching for answers to their questions in a time when those can be hard to come by. You should be proud of the incredible work you are doing. Please know that your dedication to your members and this union is seen, know that it is valued and know that every single one of you is amazing.

Thanks due to UFT volunteers who contributed to Biden victory

We want to thank all of our phone-banking volunteers, in particular our Retired Teachers Chapter volunteers, for all the time they invested in making calls from home to fellow educators and union members in New York, Florida and Pennsylvania. Our nearly 200 volunteers completed 8,278 calls to retired members in our New York City priority races, and spoke to people in 3,277 union households in Florida and to 3,103 retired and in-service educators in Pennsylvania. We now have a president-elect who plans to increase federal funding for Title I schools, wants to double the number of school social workers, counselors and psychologists in the nation’s public schools, and has pledged to appoint a secretary of education who is a certified educator. Now all eyes are on the state of Georgia, where control of the U.S. Senate will be decided in January. The state is holding runoff elections for its two U.S. Senate seats. The passage of a much-needed stimulus package with funding for public education hinges on which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Sign up for virtual workshops for chapter leaders on Saturdays

This school year, all chapter leaders are invited to attend virtual training sessions on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on topics typically covered in chapter leader training weekends in Rye, New York. All the workshops have been updated to reflect the challenges we face this school year. New chapter leaders are encouraged to attend as many workshops as possible. The first three sessions are The Empowered Chapter Leader on Saturday, Nov. 14: This session discusses chapter leader rights and responsibilities at the school level, including setting up a consultation committee and other school-based committees, obtaining necessary documents and organizing a successful chapter; Operational Issue Complaints and Grievances on Saturday, Nov. 21: This session will focus on when and how to file an operational issue complaint and the escalation process; and Social Media Ethics and Etiquette on Saturday, Dec. 5: This session will cover how to avoid the dangers posed by social media and how to use social media to inform and organize your chapter.

Register now

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • Mentoring for new teachers: Every new teacher in your school without prior teaching experience is entitled to mentoring. The mentor should be an experienced classroom teacher, coach or lead teacher, ideally in the new teacher’s subject area. The mentor will provide a minimum of two periods a week of confidential, nonevaluative and nonjudgmental support. Consult with your principal for a list of new teachers and their mentors. As a chapter leader, you are a required member of your school’s New Teacher Induction Committee, which ensures new teachers receive mentoring. If new teachers in your school have not been assigned a mentor or if you have questions about the mentor program, contact your district representative.
  • January 2021 Regents canceled: On Thursday, Nov. 5, the State Education Department issued a memo announcing that the high school Regents exams scheduled for January 2021 would be canceled. High school chapter leaders should encourage their members to review the email sent to all high school teachers regarding this decision. It’s important to understand the assessment requirements students must meet in order to earn diplomas, credentials and endorsements. The memo details the safety net options for English language learners and students with disabilities and more. Read the State Education Department’s FAQ on the exam cancellation for more details.
  • Ventilation guidelines for safe schools this winter: Please continue having conversations with your principal and custodial engineer about your school’s ventilation system and building temperature. The DOE continues to work with the UFT to strike a balance between keeping fresh air flowing through our schools to keep them safe and maintaining comfortable building temperatures for students and staff. Please see the Nov. 9 email to chapter leaders from UFT President Michael Mulgrew and the DOE’s winter ventilation plan.
  • Consider attending parent association meetings: Our close work with parent groups has forged strong bonds and support that benefit both our students and our members. Consider attending your school’s PA meetings to strengthen these bonds.

Work in progress

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

  • Roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals in 2020-21 school year
  • Lobbying the state to pass an early retirement incentive for New York City educators
  • Virtual content specialist posting

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You Should Know

Health and Safety

Quarantine rules if members travel over the holidays

If you travel to a part of the country that requires a quarantine upon your return (see the states currently on the New York State quarantine list), the DOE requires that you submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test three days before you return and test negative within three days after you return. If that test is positive, you must quarantine. Try to make arrangements with your school principal ahead of your trip so you may work remotely upon your return. The DOE's Personnel Memorandum No. 2 says an employee who must quarantine and cannot work remotely may qualify for up to two work weeks of excused leave with pay, without using CAR, annual or sick leave. Employees may not use more than two weeks of such excused leave during the 2020-21 school year, so if you can't work remotely, you may be required to use CAR, sick or annual leave if you have already taken a paid COVID-related leave this year.


Instruction

Customized support for tenured teachers in blended and remote learning

The Peer Intervention Program (PIP), co-founded by the UFT and the DOE, continues to provide intensive one-on-one support to tenured teachers, pre-K through high school, during these unprecedented times. PIP has assisted teachers with making the transition from the regular school day in buildings to an appropriate standards-based virtual school day that is manageable. PIP provides support in creating effective online lesson plans, assists teachers in selecting the most effective apps and learning platforms for online learning, develops video-based mini-lessons and helps teachers create remote learning assignments and projects. PIP also supports participants in documenting their work through accountability protocols and teaching organizational skills, such as record keeping. In addition, PIP teaches participants how to include parents, families and caregivers in the learning process. Tenured teachers interested in receiving assistance from PIP should complete the online request for assistance form.

Learn more about PIP »


Medical and Wellness

Relationships matter

During this pandemic, relationships matter more than ever. In this episode of the Classroom Cafe podcast, Krista Rizzo, a transformational life coach, motivational speaker and author who specializes in relationships, shares tips for managing interpersonal relationships during these challenging times. Classroom Cafe is produced by the union’s Member Assistance Program. Subscribe to this UFT podcast on your favorite podcast provider to make sure you don’t miss any of the upcoming episodes. The podcast is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and SoundCloud.

212-263-3643 to schedule an appointment. If you have any questions, please contact the UFT Welfare Fund at 212-539-0500.


Salary and Personnel

Members should check TEACH account for CTLE status

Teachers with professional certification and paraprofessionals who hold a Level III Teaching Assistant Certificate must complete 100 hours of Continuing Teacher Leader and Education (CTLE) professional development every five years. This is a New York State requirement to maintain an active certificate. Members should check their TEACH Online Services account to make sure they are registered with the State Education Department. Their profile page shows their current registration period — for example, June 10, 2016 - June 30, 2021. The second date is their deadline for completing the 100 CTLE hours. Every educator's due date is different, so it's important that they log in to their TEACH account to determine theirs. Members with questions about CTLE hours should read this UFT Q&A or call the UFT at 212-331-6311.

Lump-sum payment for paras who became pedagogues

Paras who became pedagogues between 2009 and 2018 are receiving 50 percent of the final lump-sum payment, like other eligible members, but because they were on two different payrolls, the DOE is mailing a paper check for some or all of the fall payment in the coming week. The DOE decided to pay these members all the money owed for their work as paraprofessionals in the October lump-sum amount (up to half of the combined total). Then, if the paraprofessional money was less than half of the combined total, these members received enough of the pedagogical money to bring the October payment to half the amount owed in total. The October pay stub only reflects the lump sum received for their work as a pedagogue. The lump-sum payment based on their work as a paraprofessional will be mailed to the address on file on Nov. 16 with the Teachers’ Retirement System.

Members should update their beneficiaries on record with the DOE

On Nov. 6, the DOE sent an email to all its employees asking them to update their emergency contact information and beneficiaries. To update beneficiaries, you must log into the NYCAPS Employee Self-Service account. See this ESS Login Guide for how to determine your ESS username and password. In the event of an employee's death, the designated beneficiaries may receive a cash benefit representing some or all of the employee's unused annual leave or accrued sick leave. The beneficiaries may also receive a death benefit if the employee's death results from an injury occurring in the course of employment that is not the fault of the employee.

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