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Chapter Leader UpdateNov. 20, 2021


YOU’RE APPRECIATED: Carmen Riera, a school psychologist who serves on the Committee on Special Education 9, dresses like the superhero she is for the School Psychologist Appreciation Day celebration at UFT headquarters on Nov. 12. (Erica Berger)

This Week's Focus

Organize a Day of Action at your school

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear: Class size is a public health issue. We are holding Days of Action on Wednesday, Dec. 1, and Thursday, Dec. 2, as part of our major push to put pressure on city elected officials to make sure the City Council bill to limit classroom occupancy is brought to a vote. Our kids deserve smaller class sizes, and now is the time to pass the legislation to make it happen. Please start thinking about what you would like to do at your school; we know our individual chapters always come up with powerful and creative organizing strategies that work for their school communities. Reach out to your school’s PTA president, parent coordinator and the parent members on the School Leadership Team to engage your school’s parents, too. Distribute this flier in staff mailboxes. Also please put this campaign as a top agenda item at your next chapter meeting. At that meeting, encourage members to sign and share the petition and facilitate a conversation about what smaller class sizes would mean for your school.  

Learn more

See Special Education Recovery Services funds for your school

The DOE’s school allocation memo provides detailed information about funding for all aspects of Special Education Recovery Services (SERS) in your school. It’s important for chapter leaders to familiarize themselves with their school’s Special Education Recovery Plan to support students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and monitor any issues with providing these students with the appropriate services. Keep an eye on how this money is spent in your school; your principal should prioritize funding for school staff to provide recovery services over outside organizations. See the Special Education Recovery Plan FAQ that addresses the most common questions about how SERS may be implemented at the school level.

See your school's allotment

Donate a new toy for a deserving child

Bring the joy of the holiday season to New York City public school students in need. Donate an unwrapped, brand-new toy for children, newborn to 16 years of age. There are three options to make it easier for you to donate to make sure no deserving child goes without a gift this holiday season: 

  • Donate an unwrapped, brand-new toy at one of our UFT borough offices through Dec. 16
  • Make a monetary donation via PayPal
  • Select an item online while shopping and have it shipped to the UFT at:

    Elementary Schools Division
    52 Broadway, 14th Floor
    New York, NY 10004

Thank you for your generosity. 

Donate now

Teacher Union Day was a success

We want to thank the 234 honorees and their families who came in person and the 600 UFT members who joined virtually via Zoom for Teacher Union Day, which each year celebrates the members who built the UFT and recognizes the members who are leading the union and our schools into the future. It was an uplifting event that reminded us of the importance of union membership, especially in these challenging times. Teacher Union Day this year had a special focus: honoring those in our UFT family who stepped up to protect and support our members and students during this pandemic. We want to give a special shoutout to our 89 chapter leaders who received Ely Trachtenberg Awards on Nov. 7. Read the story about the event and see photos of this year’s honorees on the UFT website.  

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • Determine if PROSE is right for your school: If you work in a school that is highly collaborative and has innovative practices, you may be interested in becoming a Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) school. PROSE offers schools the ability to make changes to the UFT contract and DOE regulations to allow educator-led innovations. Applications are now being accepted from schools interested in joining the PROSE program in the fall of 2022. Stay tuned for an upcoming information session. In the interim, see the PROSE section of the UFT website or send an email to A PROSE school liaison would be happy to set up a meeting with your school. The deadline to submit an application is Jan. 28, 2022.
  • Strengthen your chapter by enrolling new hires in the union: Full UFT membership makes your chapter stronger and amplifies the voice of your members. Ask your school secretary to give you a heads up when a new hire comes on board. Please invite these new hires to your chapter meetings and ask them to enroll in the UFT. Urge them to complete the online union enrollment form or fill out an enrollment card, if they haven’t done so yet. You can check the nonmember report in the chapter leader section of the website to see if there are any new hires at your school who have not yet joined the union. If you don’t have any enrollment cards, please ask your district rep for more.
  • Nov. 30 deadline to change NYC health plans: Remind your members that the open enrollment period for health benefits for in-service members is fast approaching. In-service members who plan to make changes to their health benefits, must complete the enrollment by Tuesday, Nov. 30. All changes will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

    Learn more

Work in progress

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

  • Tenure criteria for school secretaries

You Should Know


Leave-time provisions related to child vaccinations

All DOE employees may take up to four hours of paid release time per child to accompany their own children ages 5 to 11 for their COVID-19 vaccination. If a child has side effects due to the vaccine, members may use CAR days to take care of the child as covered under the DOE’s personnel memo on COVID-related leaves and absences about taking care of a sick family member.

See the Mayor's Office memo

Adult staff no longer part of COVID-19 testing in schools

Effective Nov. 15, UFT members and other school staff will no longer be part of the random COVID-19 testing in schools since all DOE employees are now fully vaccinated. For members who would like to be tested, New York City runs testing sites through the Health and Hospital Corporation and Department of Health express sites as well as other sites.

Submit proof of second dose of vaccine

UFT members who were vaccinated as a result of the vaccine mandate had 45 days after their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to receive their second shot. Nov. 18 marks 45 days. They should upload proof of their second shot to the DOE vaccination portal.


A sensory movement program at 10 sites

The Sensory Education, Exploration and Discovery (SEED) program will be offered in a small number of schools this school year as part of Special Education Recovery Services. It is an enrichment-based sensory movement program for students with IEPs that uses specialized sensory equipment and a curriculum designed by occupational therapists. Occupational therapists in collaboration with special education teachers will lead this initiative, which will be offered at 10 sites (two per borough) after school and on Saturdays. The program is scheduled to start in mid-December. See the SEED program overview and the student eligibility criteria for more details.


General ed teacher position created for SERS

The DOE and the UFT have agreed on a posting template for a newly created position to facilitate Special Education Recovery Services (SERS) for students with IEPs. The Intervention/Content Teacher position offers general education teachers the opportunity to participate in the SERS program. This teacher will provide literacy and math interventions as well as content-area support to students with IEPs when special education teachers are unavailable. Chapter leaders should check with their principals to see whether their school’s SERS allocation can pay for one or more of these positions.

Review your records

It’s good practice for members to carefully review their personnel record and save all emails from the DOE’s Department of Human Capital. The Department of Human Capital records all information concerning DOE employees’ city licenses/appointments and state certification. If the information on file about you is inaccurate, you should immediately follow the DOE’s instructions to correct errors in your record.

Contact the UFT

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