The following update was sent to all DOE-employed paraprofessionals from UFT President Michael Mulgrew and UFT Paraprofessionals Chapter Leader Shelvy Young-Abrams on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2020.
We want to thank you for your patience this school year as we worked hard to reach an agreement with the DOE on the rights and responsibilities of paraprofessionals working with remote students during the pandemic.
Since so much of your work is hands on, our goal was to create a path for you to do the same great work with remote students that you have always done in person.
The biggest change is that paras will now be able to work independently with remote students individually or in small groups under the direction of the teacher. According to the new guidance issued this week, paras, at the direction of the teacher, may support individual or small groups of remote students with learning activities in a virtual “breakout room” while the teacher is working in the virtual “main room.”
Under the general supervision of the teacher, the para may also help a remote student with asynchronous or independent learning activities assigned by the teacher, such as helping with homework assignments or doing activities to reinforce skills being taught in class. Where videoconferencing is deemed appropriate for these activities, the para will interact with the remote student in the teacher’s virtual classroom. The teacher does not have to be present in the virtual classroom when the paraprofessional is doing this work. Paras do not need to create and maintain their own virtual classroom.
With this new responsibility comes additional protection limiting the discipline a para could face without just cause.
The newly released DOE guidance offers an in-depth explanation of paraprofessionals' roles and responsibilities during this special period of blended and remote learning.
See the full guidance »
We hope this new guidance provides some much-needed clarity as you continue to do the vital work of helping our most vulnerable students during this challenging time.
Thank you, as always, for all you do.