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Frequently asked questions about remote teaching

The DOE distributed this information to principals in an FAQ on March 24, 2020.

General work rules

Q: What are the work hours for school based staff?
A: Employees should not be asked to work outside of the contractual work day (be flexible). 

  • Working remotely necessitates using time differently from a traditional period by period school day.
  • In consultation with school administration, school staff must use professional discretion to determine how to work remotely.
  • Work that is absolutely necessary and normally done in single session schools during PD, Parent Engagement, and Other Professional Work should be embedded within the flexible work time for employees.
  • Work that is done during faculty and department conferences in multi-session schools should be similarly embedded.

Q: What parameters can a supervisor set regarding workdays?
A: Please be mindful that our staff, students, and parents may be caring for others, sharing technology resources, and/or be battling illness themselves. Under the current conditions, staff should be given flexibility in establishing remote teaching instructional programs.

  • Schools should not try to replicate a regular school day schedule in a virtual environment.
  • In order to avoid scheduling conflicts for students, school supervisors can require staff to provide their schedule of live instruction where practicable, for the week and ensure that to the greatest extent possible instruction is taking place on a consistent basis.
  • Schools may establish time for staff collaboration (by department and/or grade level) as well as whole school check-ins (faculty conference). Each of these should be a maximum of once per week and should be developed in consultation with the chapter leader and school community. At least two school days advance notice and/or a consistent weekly schedule is advised.
  • There is flexibility regarding contractual obligations during the crisis and all work that
    is normally done during professional development, parent engagement, other professional work, and faculty and department conferences should be embedded into the contractual work week.

Q: Are school supervisors required/permitted to report to school on any days?
A: At this time, pursuant to the Chancellor’s March 21, 2020 directive and consistent with the Governor’s “New York State on PAUSE” plan, employees should not report to schools at all unless working at a REC center or unless they otherwise fall under an exception within the Chancellor’s directive.

  • Please observe established social distance guidelines and all City, State, and Federal mandates for travel and reporting to work.

Q: Can a principal deny parents or other visitors a meeting at the school?
A: Yes. If a parent and/or other constituent requests a meeting, employees should use technology to facilitate a remote conference and maintain social distancing.

Q: Since there are no students in attendance, what staff, if any, are required to report to the school?
A: At the moment, in addition to employees staffing the RECs, only staff designated as essential, such as school food services staff, custodial staff, and nursing staff will report. School food staff will prepare grab-and-go meals. The list of essential staff was communicated by the chancellor in his all staff email on March 21, 2020 and is subject to change.

Q: How should attendance be taken?
A: Attendance should continue to be taken using whatever system is currently being utilized until additional guidance is released.

  • This is an open issue and will be discussed between UFT, CSA, and DOE central
    offices in consultation with the state.

Remote learning

Q: What are the duties and responsibilities for employees who work remotely?
A: There is a list of duties/responsibilities by title for several types of school-based staff that can be found on the InfoHub in the Guidance and Expectations for Remote Learning in for several type of school-based staff that Response to COVID-19.

Q: Can a school supervisor dissolve all of the out of classroom teaching positions and assign the teacher to a class for remote learning?
A: Yes. At the discretion of school administration and for valid educational purposes, schools may dissolve out of classroom teaching periods (programming, deans, instructional coaches, COSA, etc.) and assign to a teaching program consistent with the contract.

Q: Does remote teaching have any impact on a teacher’s probationary period?
A: No. Teachers are expected to perform full instructional responsibilities and the time period during which staff are working remotely is considered probationary pedagogical service. If a staff member is reassigned and not performing his/her instructional responsibilities, or on a leave of absence, please consult with your Senior Field Counsel.

Q: Can a school supervisor require a staff member to report to school to discuss pedagogical issues and/or performance concerns?
A: No. Under the circumstances all conferences should be conducted remotely. School supervisors have the discretion to determine the date/time for the conference and should utilize available technology to conduct the conference. To the extent possible anticipate the documents that may be pertinent to the conversation and share in advance with the staff member. UFT members who are subject to disciplinary conference retain the right to have union representation which may include the chapter leader or other UFT representative in the virtual conference. Prior to resorting to discipline, school supervisors should be mindful that our staff, students, and parents may be caring for others, sharing technology resources, and/or be battling illness themselves.

Q: Can teachers be required to give administrators access to their online learning platform (Google Classroom or other)?
A: If asked by an administrator, teachers must provide access to their online learning platform. The change of the instructional delivery model to a remote learning paradigm does not change the ability of a supervisory staff member to “walk into a classroom.”

  • Supervisors should provide guidance and feedback, support, and pass along best
    practices that are observed in the various modes of remote learning as soon as is
    practicable.
  • Teachers must know when the supervisor is “present” in the classroom.

Q: How are teachers being evaluated this year?
A: No decisions regarding evaluations, including observations, have been made at this time. Until further notice, the focus should be on providing supportive, non-evaluative feedback.

Q: What impact did COVID-19 have on the upcoming NYS ELA/Math exams?
A: On March 20, 2020, NYSED released a memorandum stating that they are suspending all NYS Elementary- and Intermediate-Level State Assessments for the remainder of the school year in response to the statewide closures of schools and districts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This suspension for the remainder of the school year applies to the following State testing programs:

  • New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts Tests
  • New York State Grades 3-8 Mathematics Tests
  • New York State Grade 4 Elementary-Level Science Test
  • New York State Grade 8 Intermediate-Level Science Test
  • New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) in Grades K-12
  • New York State Alternate Assessment(NYSAA)for students with severe cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8 and high school

Please note that discussions regarding the NYSED Regents Exams are ongoing.

Q: What about AP exams?
A: The College Board released information.