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Chapter Leader UpdateApril 28, 2022

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Snapshot

LISTENING TO EDUCATORS: City Council Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph (standing) confers with teachers (from left) Jenna Lempesis, Cherly St. Louis and Chenel Quintero during the UFT’s “Listen Up! The reality is…” panel discussion on April 14 about what students — and public schools — need to recover and thrive after the pandemic. (Erica Berger)

LISTENING TO EDUCATORS: City Council Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph (standing) confers with teachers (from left) Jenna Lempesis, Cherly St. Louis and Chenel Quintero during the UFT’s “Listen Up! The reality is…” panel discussion on April 14 about what students — and public schools — need to recover and thrive after the pandemic. (Erica Berger)

This Week's Focus

Ruling in spring-break arbitration dispute

The independent arbitrator who awarded vacation days to UFT members who worked during the 2020 spring break has issued a subsequent ruling to settle a dispute between the Department of Education and the UFT over how to treat members with negative CAR balances. The DOE gave members with negative CAR balances only four CAR days and three vacation days when they worked seven days over the spring break. The UFT strongly disagreed with that policy and asked the arbitrator to intervene. The arbitrator ruled on April 26 that members with negative CAR balances on May 1, 2020, are entitled to two CAR days for every CAR day that the DOE originally gave them since the new vacation day the arbitrator created is worth more than a CAR day. Under the new ruling, members who had a negative CAR balance on May 1, 2020, will receive three vacation days and then have their CAR deficit reduced on a two-for-one basis. If the negative balance is eliminated before the member has been fully compensated for time worked over the spring break, the remainder will be given as additional vacation days. This decision has no impact on those members who already received their seven vacation days.


Friday is final day to get a replacement ballot

The UFT election is in full swing. Ballots must be received by May 9. If one of your members missed the April 25 deadline to request a duplicate ballot from the American Arbitration Association by phone or email, the member may still go in person with a photo ID to the AAA at 120 Broadway, concourse level, in Manhattan, to request a ballot and vote in person on Friday, April 29, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Members on leave who are not paying UFT dues are ineligible to vote in the union election. See the caucus statements and other election information in the UFT Elections 2022 section of the UFT website. 


Show your appreciation for teachers and nurses

Teacher Appreciation Week begins on Monday, May 2. National School Nurse Day is May 12. It's a chance to acknowledge these hard-working members. If you are organizing an activity next week to show appreciation for your school's teachers, please send your best photo (large-size resolution) with caption information, including your school, neighborhood and borough, to uftphotos@gmail.com so we can share it on the UFT's social media platforms. Use the hashtag #ThankATeacherNY when posting Teacher Appreciation Week photos on your own social media accounts. 


UFT’s “Listen Up! The reality is…” panel shares its expertise

Our UFT panel of eight educators, drawing on classroom experiences, talked frankly about the challenges they face during an April 14 panel titled, “Listen Up! The reality is…” They advocated for smaller class sizes, teacher autonomy, staff increases — especially school counselors and other clinicians, special education services and more. Schools Chancellor David C. Banks, state Board of Regents Chancellor Lester Young and other key education policymakers intently listened to our members’ well-articulated, blunt assessments and recommendations. City Council Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph, a former Brooklyn teacher and UFT member, moderated the discussion.

Watch the discussion

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • Post the new UFT election notice on your bulletin board: Make sure you post this UFT election notice on your bulletin board in a prominent place. A copy has also been mailed to your school.
  • Have you filled out the Chapter Leader Hub survey yet? We want to know what you find most valuable in the new Chapter Leader Hub and what new features you’d like to see added in the future — so we can make the hub even more useful. Please fill out our feedback survey if you haven’t already done so.
  • Fliers to share with your members: Here are fliers you can 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: 

  • Finalizing the school calendar for the 2022-23 school year
  • Discussing whether to renew the extended workday (with blocks for PD, Other Professional Work and parent engagement)
  • Lawsuits to protect the due process rights of UFT members who were abruptly terminated for noncompliance with the vaccine mandate or on suspicion of submitting fraudulent proof of vaccination

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You Should Know

HEALTH & SAFETY

New policy on student at-home rapid tests

As of April 27, the DOE will distribute four COVID-19 at-home rapid tests per student each week until further notice. Two tests are for student use and two are for a family member. The DOE is encouraging families to use these tests every week, at least five days apart, unless experiencing COVID symptoms. If there is a classroom exposure, students will receive two test kits and a notification letter from the Situation Room and two more test kits during the week. Staff members will continue to receive two test kits per week. Staff may request additional rapid tests on an as-needed basis. The DOE’s April 27 letter to families spells out the new policy.


INSTRUCTION

New state guidelines for ENL integrated co-teaching

The New York State Education Department has released new guidance on English as a New Language integrated co-teaching, for which the UFT has been actively advocating. Of note, Topic 2: Co-teaching in an Integrated ENLClassroom defines what ENL integrated co-teaching is and what it is not. The UFT recognizes implementation is the key to improving classroom working conditions, and we will follow up with the DOE’s Division of Multilingual Learners to put this guidance into practice.

Review the new guidance


MEDICAL & WELLNESS

Support when you need it from MAP and HelloHero

During the pandemic, as levels of stress, anxiety, grief and loneliness increased, the UFT’s Member Assistance Program expanded its short-term mental and emotional support services for members. To address UFT members’ need for immediate access to appropriate counseling services in a timely manner, MAP forged a partnership with HelloHero, a multidisciplinary healthcare company offering virtual services. Now, UFT members and their families have an option for referrals to long-term mental health support and quality mental health care without waiting. The UFT made sure HelloHero is an in-network provider for UFT members’ health insurance and that billing is automatic. To be connected with HelloHero for mental health counseling and psychiatric services for a UFT member or an immediate family member, contact MAP by email at HHreferral@uft.org. After MAP makes a referral to HelloHero, a HelloHero representative will contact the UFT member within 48 hours.

Renewal of Express Scripts contract preserves benefits

The UFT Welfare Fund recently reached a new three-year contract with Express Scripts as its prescription benefit manager. This contract renewal, which covers the years 2023 to 2025, was finalized eight months early. For UFT members, the renewal preserves the union's robust drug formulary and copayment structure with no changes. The UFT takes pride in providing members with a wide range of drugs with low copayments. Behind the scenes, the UFT Welfare Fund negotiated cost-savings including improved pricing, lower dispensing fees and increased rebates. All money saved will be applied to preserving and enhancing the strong benefit package provided by the UFT Welfare Fund. At a time when the cost of health insurance continues to increase nationally, the UFT worked hard to be able to continue to provide best-in-class prescription drug coverage for members for years to come.

Listen to Classroom Café podcast on coping with grief

Grief is an intensely personal experience, and there is no "right" way to grieve. In the latest episode of the UFT’s Classroom Café podcast, Ashley Groesbeck, a clinical social worker, and Alain Metellus, the UFT’s director of crisis intervention, discuss ways we can validate the experience for the bereaved and help them to accept and move through the grieving process. Listen and subscribe to Classroom Café wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss an episode.

Listen to the podcast


SALARY & PERSONNEL

Elimination of Liberal Arts and Sciences coursework requirements for teacher certification

The New York State Education Department recently voted to remove the general education core in the Liberal Arts and Sciences coursework requirement for teacher certification, effective April 27. This change removes a potential barrier to teacher certification and eliminates redundancy in coursework. The change is intended to help alleviate the statewide teacher shortage.

Apply for summer school positions now

Online applications may now be submitted for summer school positions on the DOE website. Retention rights will be honored for all positions. If a member holds retention rights, was approved for a medical accommodation to work remotely in the 2020-21 school year and chose not to apply for the 2021 Summer Rising program, that member’s retention rights will be honored for this year’s program. The deadline for applying for a summer position is Monday, May 23. Teachers will receive mandated pre-service training, and instruction begins for students on Tuesday, July 5. The Summer Rising 2022 program is open to all students in grades K-12 who wish to attend.

See the postings

Clarification on members on leave who must reapply by May 16

The union has been emailing members who are currently on a leave of absence for the remainder of the current school year to alert them that they must notify the DOE about their plans for next school year by Monday, May 16. UFT-represented employees who are on unpaid leave due to the vaccine mandate do not have to notify the DOE of their intent by this date. It is likely that the DOE will establish a similar process with a different deadline for those members in the coming weeks. UFT members with questions should call the UFT at 212-331-6311.

A certification change for school counselors

The New York State Education Department is establishing the Bilingual Education extension and Supplementary Bilingual Education extension for candidates who hold the Initial or Professional School Counselor certificate and apply for the extensions after Feb. 2, 2023. The requirements for these extensions will more closely align with those required for candidates who hold an Initial or Professional teaching certificate and will include 12 semester hours and coursework in sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. The new requirements ensure that school counselors are as prepared to work with bilingual English language learners as classroom teachers. Candidates who hold the Provisional or Permanent School Counselor certificate and apply for the Bilingual Education extension or Supplementary Bilingual Education extension after Feb. 2, 2023, will also need to meet the new Bilingual Education extension requirements.

Register for spring pension workshops

The UFT Pension Department regularly offers virtual workshops to inform members about their valuable pension benefits. The union is offering a Tier 6 pension clinic for TRS members on Wednesday, May 11; a panel discussion on Tier 4 pensions on Thursday, May 19; a workshop on Medicare and turning 65 on Monday, May 23; a presentation on the Board of Education Retirement System on Thursday, June 2; and a workshop on health benefits at retirement on Monday, June 6, for those who retire and are not yet eligible for Medicare. All workshops are held online and begin at 4:15 p.m. Registration is open now.


EVERYTHING ELSE

What educators need highlighted at UFT Spring Education Conference in May

We invite you to join your fellow educators for our Speak Up! panel, this year’s morning town hall at our Spring Education Conference on Saturday, May 21. At this kick-off session, educators will talk about their experiences and share their thoughts about the challenges of this moment and the needs of our school system. Audience members will have the chance to speak their mind. At our featured CTLE workshop, educators who work with English language learners can learn new strategies for teaching multilingual learners from Andrea Honigsfeld, the lead author on important new state guidance on integrated co-teaching for multilingual learners. The registration fee for the conference is $50 per person. There is an additional cost of $15 per CTLE hour for teachers and $7.50 per CTLE hour for paraprofessionals and other UFT members who attend workshops for credit. See the registration form for more information.

Register now

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