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Chapter Leader UpdateJan. 8, 2021

Chapter Leader Update Snapshot
Erica Berger

FEEDING NEW YORK: Parent advocates feed halal lunches to community members on Jan. 6 outside the North Bronx Islamic Center as part of the union’s We Feed NYC campaign.

This Week's Focus

Progress made on getting members the protection of the vaccine

The UFT is fighting to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to all its DOE-employed members as soon as possible. Even with New York State's allocation of 300,000 new doses arriving each week, supply will be a major issue. So far, the state has received 950,000 doses of vaccine for 2.1 million health care workers and nursing home residents and workers. The DOE made the vaccine available this week to school nurses and to in-person speech teachers and occupational and physical therapists because their job titles were deemed health care professionals by New York State. Educators are among group 1b, made up of frontline essential workers and people over the age of 75, who will be the next group in New York State to be eligible to be immunized. We are working with the state, the city and our health care partners in the New York City area to create a vaccine distribution network for UFT members. Important information about the plan and the process are still being worked out. We will update all members with the details as soon as we are able. Our goal is to make immunization a quick, easy and safe process for all who want it.

Negotiations on teacher evaluation this year are underway

The UFT has begun discussions with the DOE about a teacher evaluation system that makes sense for this school year. State law still requires that there be an evaluation system and that the system include a Measure of Student Learning (MOSL). Our goal in the negotiations is to have an evaluation system that is simple, does not burden teachers and respects the sacrifices teachers have made this year in service to their students. Discussions are at a preliminary stage. We will update you as the talks progress.

Seeking performers for our We Feed NYC fundraiser on Feb. 13

Did you know that 1.2 million New Yorkers are struggling with food insecurity? That means tens of thousands of children will go to bed hungry tonight. The UFT is sponsoring We Feed NYC to directly support those in need. The UFT is producing a virtual fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 13, featuring student performances, mindfulness and cooking activities, and much more. Every dollar raised will go directly to support local, community-based food pantries in the highest-need neighborhoods. We're looking for student performers or UFT members themselves who can perform or head up a short activity during the virtual event. All segments will be prerecorded. Please fill out our online form and submit a video clip if possible if you or anyone at your school is interested in contributing their talent to this important cause.

Donate blood to help ease the shortage

You and your fellow UFT members can help save lives by donating blood. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a dangerously low blood supply throughout New York City. Healthy donors are urgently needed to support city health care facilities, especially as COVID-19 cases are on the rise. We have put together a campaign page on the UFT website where you can find out if you are eligible to donate blood and where you can donate.

Donate now

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • Signed up for the next Delegate Assembly? As your school’s elected union representative, your participation at Delegate Assembly meetings is a crucial part of the UFT policymaking process. And now that these meetings are virtual, attending is more convenient than ever. Register now for the Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
  • Testing teams must stay on schedule: We appreciate that many members are eager to be tested when the testing team comes to their school for the random in-school COVID testing. Testing teams have been instructed to test only the 20% random sample at each site they visit; if they test everyone in a school who would like to be tested, the team will not have time to visit every school on its schedule that day. Please help your members understand the importance of the teams adhering to the guidelines so all school communities are tested each week.
  • Report issues with in-school testing to your district rep: The city has committed to weekly testing of a random sample of 20% of students and staff in every school building that is open for in-person learning. Please alert your district rep if your school encounters any issues with the randomization process, conducting weekly tests of the random sample or receiving test results within 24 to 48 hours.
  • Virtual training sessions for chapter leaders: All chapter leaders are invited to register for 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. New chapter leaders are encouraged to attend as many workshops as possible. The final three sessions are: Navigating Time and Attendance Protocols at the School Level on Saturday, Jan. 9; How to Maintain a Healthy and Safe School Environment on Saturday, Jan. 23; and What is COPE and Why Do We Need It? on Saturday, Jan. 30.

Work in progress

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

  • Lobbying the state to pass an early retirement incentive for New York City educators
  • A sensible teacher evaluation and development system for this school year

You Should Know


New guidance on dividing in-person Integrated Co-Teaching classes

On the heels of State Education Department guidance regarding flexibility in Integrated Co-Teaching, the DOE and the UFT have hammered out new guidance on when and how in-person ICT classes can be divided. The division of ICT classes into instructional groups that meet in physically separate spaces is intended to increase in-person instruction and services to students while promoting social distancing and adhering to health and safety requirements. Such divisions should not be used as the pretext to create an ICT bridge class. Further, the following conditions must be met when dividing ICT classes into instructional groups:

  • The class is taught by an ICT partnership that includes two teachers with appropriate general education and special education certifications.
  • The school must have the available physical space to appropriately accommodate such a division.

In these cases, the ICT partnership teachers will consult on how best to divide the students into the instructional groups and how to assure regular, substantive in-person interaction with each teacher throughout the school day, subject to supervisory approval. These instructional groups must be heterogeneous, and they should maintain the ratio of 60% students without IEPs and 40% students with IEPs consistent with DOE policy.

Earn CTLE hours for free in January with LearnUFT

LearnUFT, a state-approved provider, is offering free CTLE courses for teachers and paraprofessionals in January. Learn about instructional tools and strategies for use in blended and remote classrooms. Each of the two-hour courses will take place remotely on Zoom from 4 to 6 p.m. on 11 dates in January. If you take LearnUFT workshops to attain CTLE hours, the union keeps a record of the certificates you’ve earned and can provide them to you upon request, as a service to members. You can use the State Education Department's recordkeeping form to help you keep track of your CTLE hours.

Browse courses and register »

Register for a Learning Through Apple workshop

The UFT, in collaboration with Apple, is offering eight virtual workshops in January and early February to help teachers explore how to effectively use iPad, Mac and iOS to enhance teaching and learning and motivate students. Sessions for all levels of expertise include how to organize your online classroom, how to use various features to help students create original projects and how to adapt instruction for all learners. Each workshop offers CTLE credit. The Reaching all Learners session also provides credit toward the CTLE requirement for instruction of English language learners.

Browse sessions and register »

Social workers and psychologists can earn CE hours online

The UFT Member Assistance Program, in collaboration with LearnUFT, is offering online continuing education courses to licensed social workers and mental health counselors this winter. Any UFT member who is a licensed social worker or mental health counselor may earn two continuing education hours by completing one of these training sessions. Each session costs $25. Due to the pandemic, the New York State Education Department permits licensed social workers and mental health counselors to take continuing education courses online through May 1, 2021.

Register now »

Health and Safety

Quarantine period reduced to 10 days

The DOE has reduced the quarantine period for school staff or students who have been exposed to COVID-19 in accordance with updated U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Individuals with confirmed cases can end their quarantine after 10 days (instead of 14 days) without a testing requirement, as long as no symptoms have been reported during the quarantine period. Individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 (through close contact to a positive case) can also end their quarantines after 10 days, instead of 14 days.

Up-to-date school safety data

We want members to have access to the most up-to-date and accurate information about COVID infection in our schools and our communities. To that end, we are sharing the number of New York City classrooms and schools that close each day in response to positive cases, plus we provide a look-up chart to find out which schools have gone remote in response to COVID outbreaks. Our database also relays the state’s most recent seven-day positivity rate for New York City.

See our school COVID response database »

How to maintain good ventilation and stay warm this winter

The union has created a short video about how to stay both safe and warm in schools this winter. Please encourage your members to watch this video if they have concerns. The video will answer many of their questions, including the number of windows that must be open in a classroom, the temperature it is supposed to be in a school building and the purpose of vents. Members may also find answers in our safety FAQ on the UFT’s website.

Watch the video »

Medical and Wellness

Start 2021 on a positive emotional note

2020 was tough. The pandemic has taken a toll on our emotional well-being, whether we have suffered the loss of a friend, colleague or family member or we simply miss our normal work routines and time spent with family and friends. In this episode of the union’s Classroom Café podcast, mental health speaker and best-selling author Mike Veny shares the profound mental health journey he has been on since childhood. His insights will help educators to develop tools and techniques for self-care and to support students and their families as they deal with the stresses of the pandemic. Listen in and start the year with an outlook that promotes emotional well-being and resilience.

Listen to the podcast »

Rejuvenate with livestreamed self-care workshops

The UFT’s Positive Learning Collaborative livestreams interactive 20-minute body-and-mind activities each month. These mini-workshops will be livestreamed on the PLC Facebook page this month at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12, and Tuesday, Jan. 26. The Jan. 12 session focuses on simple stretches you can do in a chair to combat muscle stiffness and pain and the Jan. 26 session focuses on chair yoga and mindfulness practice. This information is designed for you to incorporate right away into your daily life to help relieve stress and fight damage caused by sitting for lengthy periods of time.

Visit the PLC Facebook page »

Everything Else...

Deadline to apply for a UFT Shanker scholarship extended to Feb. 1

If you work in a high school, please reach out to your school’s college advisers and school counselors to ensure eligible seniors apply for the UFT’s Albert Shanker College Fund scholarships. The submission deadline has been extended to Friday, Feb. 1. If you do not work in a high school, please spread the word to family, friends and community members who may qualify for this award. To receive a $5,000 scholarship, candidates must be accepted in a full-time, matriculated, degree-granting program at an accredited college or university. You can get more information on the scholarship and application materials on the UFT website.

Contact the UFT

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