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Updates for speech teachers and OT/PTs concerning the last week of school and the summer

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The following guidance was sent to all DOE-employed speech teachers, occupational therapists and physical therapists from Vice President for Special Education MaryJo Ginese on Monday, June 22.

One of the most challenging school years in our professional lives is drawing to a close. But the UFT continues to advocate on behalf of speech teachers and OT/PTs to ensure you have the working conditions you need and deserve.

Here are the latest updates:

Work responsibilities for remainder of this week: The UFT and the DOE agreed that speech teachers and OT/PTs will provide mandated sessions as per the school’s half-day schedule from Tuesday, June 23, through Friday, June 26. Afternoon sessions will be canceled so you can participate in school staff meetings or meetings with your supervisor, review your caseload to determine students eligible for summer services, and complete your SESIS and end-of-year paperwork.

Summer school caseloads: We have heard your concerns about summer school caseloads and are in ongoing discussions with the DOE concerning the number of sessions, including both synchronous and asynchronous work, that speech teachers and OT/PTs are expected to offer during the summer programs. Our goal is to reach agreement with the DOE on a reasonable caseload for our members. We will keep you posted.

Possible new summer-school posting for in-person related services: Governor Cuomo signed an executive order in early June allowing — but not mandating — school districts to provide necessary special education programs and services in person during the summer. The DOE has already decided that it will not offer in-person instruction for students with 12-month IEPs (those in Chapter 683 and Extended School Year programs). It is expected to decide in the next few days whether to offer some in-person related services this summer. If it decides to, the DOE will issue a separate job posting to staff the in-person therapy program.

Speech teachers and OT/PTs who have already applied to work remotely in this year’s summer program will be hired based on the needs of the program. Due to the high volume of applicants to provide remote services this summer, it is unlikely that everyone will be hired for the remote summer assignment. Those who are not selected for remote summer assignments may apply for an in-person assignment, but they would not be required to do so. If the DOE decides to offer in-person related services this summer, the UFT would make sure that sites offering these services complied with all federal and state health and safety guidelines.

I hope this information addresses some of your immediate concerns and questions. Stay safe and healthy.

Related Topics: Chapter News, Coronavirus