The following email was sent to all paraprofessionals on April 16 by UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
I hope you are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time. You are an integral part of your school community. Students and school staff rely on you as much as ever.
I want to share with you new guidance that the DOE and the UFT established this week about the role and responsibilities of paraprofessionals during this remote era.
Paraprofessionals supporting students with disabilities are expected to continue to support teachers and related service providers (as appropriate) in the delivery and development of remote instruction. You should provide the teacher or the related service provider with insight and observations about what strategies and modifications work well with the students.
Here are the key expectations for paraprofessionals:
- Participate in scheduled school-based professional development regarding online learning.
- Support classroom teachers with preparing assignments, content and activities.
- Assist with collecting materials that will be sent out to students.
- Maintain regular communication with teachers and related service providers.
- Communicate with students and families regularly as determined by the classroom teacher, related service provider or school leadership.
- Under the direction of the teacher or related service provider, support families and students in accessing and participating in remote learning and therapy, including supporting families in implementing behavior supports and structures, as needed.
- Paras should not be tasked with calling the homes of students as part of a school's general check-in.
Considerations for 1:1 paraprofessionals
IEP-assigned paraprofessionals should make every effort to continue to support their students remotely, under the direction of the child's teacher or related service provider, within the student's mandated domain and with consideration to the child's family or caregiver. School leadership also may assign 1:1 paraprofessionals to other duties during remote learning once the paraprofessionals have delivered IEP-mandated services for their assigned students.
Key expectations for IEP-assigned paraprofessionals include:
- Implementing academic, social-emotional and behavior supports as identified in the management needs section of the student's IEP, as they relate to remote learning.
- Implementing adaptations and modifications to meet the needs of the student, including behavior, for remote learning.
- Conducting individual check-ins with students and families to better understand assigned work and share needs and concerns as appropriate.
- Providing language support remotely to students recommended for instruction in a language other than English.
- At the discretion of the principal, supporting special education teachers in remote small group instruction.
- If supporting a student who is using or will use assistive technology, participating in training offered by the Center for Assistive Technology (CAT)/Assistive Technology (AT) Team/Tech Solutions regarding assistive technology devices and, with appropriate training, assisting students in using these devices.
Resources for paraprofessionals
Please use these DOE-provided resources to support your remote work:
Special Education Office Professional Learning Calendar: Lists all centrally offered professional development relating to the paraprofessional's role in remote learning.
DOE Teach-at-Home website: Lists training materials for educators and remote instruction materials for students.
Encounter Attendance guidance: Explains the service location options available to paraprofessionals during school building closures.
You can find all the information above in the official guidance issued by the DOE.
Please stay in touch and let the union know if you have any questions or issues. We're in this together.
Thank you for your hard work.