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Frequently Asked Questions

You can search the FAQs on our website by keyword or category above. 

A list of the most commonly asked questions.

Are there class size limits for Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) classes?

SETSS isn’t a class. It is a support service that may be provided to students with disabilities in the general ed classroom or elsewhere for at least three hours a week and it can include consultation with the child’s teacher. There may not be more than eight students in an instructional group receiving SETSS.

How many sick days do teachers have each year? How many personal days?

UFT represented DOE employees may take up to 10 self-treated days per school year without a doctor’s note for absences due to illness. Three out of the 10 may be used for personal business. Paras may not take more than five in a term and must have a doctor’s note for consecutive absences of three or more days. Any UFT member can take more CAR days for medical reasons, if they provide medical documentation and they have the days in their CAR.

How can personal days be used?

You can use three of your 10 days for personal business, provided that the days are approved by your principal. Personal business is officially defined as something that cannot be done at any time other than a school day, during school hours.

Reasonable notice must be given for personal business that is scheduled in advance, such as the closing on a house. This allows you an opportunity to speak to your chapter leader if you feel the principal is being unreasonable in denying your request. If you are out to take care of a suddenly ill child, advance notice is not ordinarily required. Personal days are part of the contractual right to 10 self-treated CAR days allowed each year, not in addition to those days.

Are there any illnesses for which time off will not be deducted from my sick bank?

Yes. Measles, mumps and chicken pox are childhood diseases that are not deductible from your sick time. Ask your school secretary or UFT chapter leader for an OP 198 application to submit to your principal. Form:

There are other days that are not deducted from your CAR.  These are called non-attendance days and they are granted for a variety of reasons, such as jury duty, bereavement, graduation, extraordinary transit delay, blood donation and cancer screening. You must submit an OP 201 application. Permissible non-attendance days are listed on that form. Form:

If a close family member dies, can I take time off to attend the funeral?

You may take off up to four days for the purposes of bereavement, at any point in the three months after the date of death of a covered family member. Form OP 201 is required.

What protective measures against bloodborne pathogens must the DOE provide?

The DOE is required to develop an Exposure Control Plan that:

  • identifies at-risk workers;
  • outlines methods to prevent or eliminate exposure, including universal precautions and the use of safe needle devices;
  • outlines adequate personal protective equipment;
  • establishes a housekeeping, cleaning and disinfection program;
  • establishes a bloodborne pathogens training program;
  • offers Hepatitis B vaccine at no cost; and
  • offers free, confidential medical evaluation, treatment and counseling after an exposure to blood or bodily fluids during work hours.

The principal should appoint an administrative-level person, called the site employee safety administrator, to coordinate the school’s program.

For more details about what your school must do, read this Know Your Rights column on bloodborne pathogens.

See the UFT's guide to the DOE's Blood-Borne Pathogen Compliance Tool »

What do I do if I am exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials at work?

While most New York City school educators are not at risk, if you are exposed to blood or body fluids in an accident, playground scrape, bloody nose, fight, athletic injury or violent incident, treat any such incident as if the fluids are infected because there is no way to tell if a child or adult is infected with Hepatitis B or other bloodborne pathogens.

Wash the affected area with soap and water immediately. Flush eyes and exposed mucous membranes with large amounts of water. Report the incident to the school’s site administrator, principal and chapter leader so the administrator can coordinate necessary medical arrangements. To help prevent infection, be sure to seek medical attention immediately (in some cases you may need treatment within hours).

What is the difference between a state certificate and a city license?

You must have New York State certification to be hired for a full-time teaching position in New York City. The position must match the state certificate. New York City no longer issues a separate paper license, but there is still a license/appointment process that must take place in the DOE computer system once someone is hired. This determines your tenure track and your seniority for excessing and layoff.

Where can I find out what the requirements are for my certificate/license?

The requirements for New York State certificates can be found at There are no separate requirements for a New York City license other than the availability of a vacancy in the certificate area and the recommendation of a principal to hire the person for the vacancy.

How do I earn the 100 CTLE hours needed to keep my teaching certificate?

The 100 hours every five years is a requirement only for those who hold a Professional or Level III Teaching Assistant Certificate. Most new teachers enter the system with a Transitional B or Initial Certificate and will not be eligible for the Professional Certificate until they have been teaching for three years.

Although school professional development is not CTLE approved, know that DOE is an approved provider. The UFT and UFT Teacher Center are also CTLE providers. For more information, please visit the state website.

When in doubt, reach out to an educational liaison in your UFT borough office or a certification specialist at UFT Certification Services: 1-212-420-1830.