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Chapter Leader UpdateJan. 6, 2022

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Snapshot

INSTRUCTION ON THE MENU: Culinary arts teacher Irma Gianni from IS 145 in Jackson Heights tells UFT President Michael Mulgrew on Jan. 6 about how math, science, culture and literacy come together in her classroom to create an enriching learning experience for students.

INSTRUCTION ON THE MENU: Culinary arts teacher Irma Gianni from IS 145 in Jackson Heights tells UFT President Michael Mulgrew on Jan. 6 about how math, science, culture and literacy come together in her classroom to create an enriching learning experience for students.

This Week's Focus

The next Delegate Assembly is Wednesday, Jan. 19

Call the UFT’s safety hotline to report issues at your school

Thank you for your hard work and vigilance this week as schools cope with staffing shortages stemming from the latest COVID surge. The following safety measures should now be in place in your school:

  1. All school staff receive two at-home rapid tests (a kit may contain one or two tests inside) each week in January. Two at-home rapid tests will also be given to all staff and students in a class where a positive case is identified as well as to any staff member or student who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  2. All school staff can receive a KN95 mask once a week upon request.
  3. A random sample of both vaccinated and unvaccinated students, equal to 20% of the school’s unvaccinated student population, are now tested each week. At least 10% of the school staff among those who express an interest will also be tested. 

We are depending on chapter leaders to report any issues in your schools. Call the UFT’s safety hotline at 212-331-6317 if your school has a mask or rapid-test shortage or is not following the new in-school testing protocols. The hotline will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., from Monday to Friday. The union has created a rapid response protocol to bring the issues you report to the immediate attention of the DOE. Please continue to keep your UFT district rep informed about serious staffing shortages. 


Check out our spring break arbitration FAQ

An independent arbitrator has ruled that UFT members will receive a vacation day — a new type of day members have never had before — for each day they worked during the 2020 spring break. For many members, it will total seven vacation days. ​​We all lost a vacation in 2020, and vacation time was what we are owed — not sick (CAR) time as the DOE argued in the arbitration. The union persuaded the arbitrator to see it from our point of view. We have put together a spring break arbitration FAQ to answer the most common questions about the arbitration ruling, including how members who are no longer on payroll but worked those days will be compensated. Please review these FAQs and advise members with questions to consult them. If a member has a question not included in our FAQ, they can fill out our online inquiry form


DOE policy on COVID-related absences

Members have many different reasons for a COVID-related absence. For each scenario, the DOE, in consultation with the UFT, has developed a policy and documentation requirements. The UFT has created an informational chart that allows members to easily determine what applies in their individual case. For instance, when a UFT member needs to take care of a child who must stay home to quarantine or because their school is closed, the member can take leave at two-thirds pay or use CAR days if the member prefers. You can also consult our FAQ on absences related to COVID-19 for answers to common questions and links to the DOE’s personnel memos on the topic. 


Teacher’s Choice deadlines in January

Remind your members that they have until Friday, Jan. 14, to make Teacher’s Choice purchases for the 2021-22 school year. Members must submit the receipts for supplies purchased between Aug. 1, 2021, and Jan. 14, 2022, to their payroll secretary by Friday, Jan. 21. These receipts must accompany a Statement of Purpose/Accountability form. If a UFT member received Teacher’s Choice funds in their Nov. 29, 2021, paycheck and does not file an accountability form with required receipts by Jan. 21, that member must refund the money to the DOE. To find out the allotment by job title and other valuable information about the program, go to the Teacher’s Choice section of the UFT website or speak to your payroll secretary. Note that Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) members who are assigned to your school during the week of Jan. 18 must submit proof of eligible purchases on the DOE’s accountability form to your school’s principal by Jan. 21. 


Next member town hall on Jan. 12

All DOE-employed members are invited to attend the union’s upcoming virtual town hall on Wednesday, Jan. 12, starting at 4 p.m. UFT President Michael Mulgrew will give an update about the issues facing educators as we navigate this new phase of the pandemic, and he will take questions from members. Members will receive their email invitation to register for the town hall today. 

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • Make sure your school’s testing list is refreshed weekly: Make sure your school is testing different students each week. Every week, the DOE creates a new randomized list of students to test, known as the RCOV list. The list includes only students who have consent forms on file. This randomized list must be refreshed and downloaded weekly (on each testing day). It’s come to our attention that some testing sites are accidentally reusing old testing rosters rather than updating their lists. Schools should be sure to confirm the date is correct in the 'Testing Week' column when preparing for the current week’s testing and refresh the list if needed. After students are tested, they should receive a backpack letter that informs parents about how they can get their child’s test result.
  • PROSE applications due on Jan. 28: The deadline for schools to apply to join the PROSE program is Jan. 28. If you would like to make a virtual or in-person appointment with a member of the UFT’s PROSE team, please use this link. You can also send an email to prose@uft.org if you have a question or would like to set up a time for a phone call with a member of the PROSE team.
  • Last chance to nominate an outstanding paraprofessional: Help us recognize outstanding paraprofessionals who have contributed to their schools, their communities and the UFT. Use this online form to nominate a full-time paraprofessional for an award in 2022. The deadline to submit a nomination is Jan. 21 at 3 p.m. The form must be completed in full; incomplete forms will not be processed. Paraprofessionals Chapter Leader Shelvy Young-Abrams will contact winners. Paraprofessionals may not self-nominate, and winners from prior years are ineligible. 
  • Fliers to share with members: Chapter leaders told us they would like fliers for key events and initiatives in the Chapter Leader Update. Here are some fliers you can download, print and distribute in member mailboxes or post on your school’s UFT bulletin board. 

Work in progress

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

  • Access to COVID-19 testing for members who work in 3K and pre-K sites 
  • Guidance for operational closures of classrooms or schools
  • Expanding the pool of students for in-school testing 

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You Should Know

HEALTH & SAFETY

The latest COVID info at your fingertips

The UFT is committed to providing members with the latest information and updates on its Coronavirus Info Hub on the UFT website. All DOE guidance and DOE-UFT agreements related to the pandemic are posted on the info hub. Our comprehensive School Year 2021-22 FAQ can also be found there. Please advise your members to visit the section regularly and consult it when they have questions.


INSTRUCTION

High school Regents cancelled

The January 2022 administration of the High School Regents Examination Program has been cancelled due to the pandemic, State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa announced. This cancellation applies to all Regents exams scheduled for the January administration period. No decisions have been made yet regarding the June and August 2022 Regents exams or any other state assessment programs.


MEDICAL & WELLNESS

Update on KN95 masks in schools

Early Monday morning, chapter leaders called the safety hotline to alert the UFT about issues with the distribution of the KN95 masks to staff. The union reached out immediately to the chancellor and the mayor. On a telephone call a few hours later, the DOE told principals to give a KN95 mask to any staff member who requests one. These masks will be given to any staff who requests one on a weekly basis. In addition, principals must distribute a new KN95 mask to a staff member returning to school on Day 6 after a positive test. The same KN95 mask may be reused for up to five days; however, the staff member should discard the mask and request a new one sooner if the mask becomes damaged, contaminated or hard to breathe through.


SALARY & PERSONNEL

Online tax forms for DOE employees

In-service DOE employees can access their W-2, 1127 waiver and 1095-C tax forms online on the NYCAPS Employee Self Service web page. DOE employees who asked for electronic delivery of their tax forms will receive them via email by the end of January. The tax forms will be mailed to all other employees at the address on file at the DOE. UFT members who received parental leave payments from the UFT will not receive a UFT-issued W-2 form on those earnings. Those earnings will be documented on their DOE W-2 form instead. In-service members who work per session do not receive a separate W-2 form; per-session income is included on their regular W-2 form. Members who are not on DOE payroll, including retirees, will have their tax forms mailed from the city Office of Payroll Administration.

Deductions available to educators when filing taxes

Unionized employees may no longer deduct their union dues on their federal tax returns following the overhaul of federal tax law in 2017. But thanks to UFT lobbying, union members in New York State can deduct the full amount of union dues from their state taxes if they itemize deductions on their state tax return. Eligible educators can deduct from their federal income taxes up to $250 of unreimbursed expenses from 2020 for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment and supplementary materials they use in the classroom, according to the IRS. Qualified expenses also include the amounts for personal protective equipment, disinfectant and other supplies related to preventing the spread of COVID-19. The educator expense deduction is an “adjustment to gross income” so you can use it whether you use the standard deduction or itemize on your tax return. To be eligible for this deduction, you must work for at least 900 hours during a school year at a school that provides elementary or secondary education as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide. You should keep documentation, such as receipts or canceled checks, for any deductions you take. If you are not sure whether you are entitled to a deduction, or you have any other questions regarding your tax returns, consult a tax adviser.


EVERYTHING ELSE

Middle School Conference rescheduled for April 9

The UFT's citywide Middle School Conference, originally scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 5, has been postponed due to the latest COVID surge. The conference, which will take place at union headquarters, has been tentatively rescheduled for Saturday, April 9.

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