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Instructional Issues

Read the DOE guidance on blended and remote learning teaching roles.  

Read the UFT-DOE Memorandum of Agreement, 9/25/20

Blended learning

Has the city phased out blended learning? 

The blended learning model has been difficult for students and educators alike, so the DOE has made a push to reduce blended learning as much as possible. When feasible, principals have reprogrammed their schools to facilitate as much in-person learning as possible. Schools must continue to abide by all the safety and social-distancing protocols established in the September safety plan. 

The ability to accommodate more in-person instruction varies from school to school, depending on the available staff and space. Principals now know the exact number of in-person students they have so they can program for that number. Schools had fewer in-person students show up in September than they had anticipated, but many schools did not reprogram to maximize in-person instructional time at that point.

Has a new opt-in period been announced for students to return to in-person, blended learning during the 2021-21 school year?

Yes. Parents of students in in district 3-K, Pre-K, and grades K-5, including District 75, will be offered an additional opt-in period to return to school buildings for blended learning this year. Parents must fill out the DOE's online form (https://www.nycenet.edu/surveys/learningpreference) between March 24 and April 7 to return to classrooms sometime in April. Opt-in periods for middle and high school students have not been announced. 

Are students able to attend school in-person every day?

The DOE is instructing principals to reprogram their schools to enable as much in-person learning as possible while abiding by all the safety and social-distancing protocols established in September. Schools can resume in-person instruction five days a week if they can do it safely.

Will schools be allowed to ignore social-distancing protocols and increase the number of students in a classroom so all in-person students can attend classes five days a week? 

No, all safety and social-distancing requirements remain in effect. Schools may provide in-person instruction five days a week only if they can do so safely.In-person class sizes can only increase when a classroom did not previously have the maximum number of in-person students that it could safely accommodate with social distancing in effect. 

How will in-person staff shortages affect the ability of schools to allow students to come to school five days a week?

Schools will be able to reduce the number of student cohorts and increase the amount of in-person instruction to the degree that they have the staff and space available with social-distancing protocols in effect. 

Observations

Do I need to have a copy of my lesson plan ready for my principal if they drop in on my Zoom/Google Classroom session to observe my remote teaching?

The contract has not changed on this issue. Teachers are not required to have copies of their lesson plans for their administration and an evaluator cannot demand that a teacher provide a copy of the day’s lesson plan on the spot. Requiring teachers to maintain a copy of each of their lesson plans for every class in the event of an unannounced visit is not permitted.

As has always been the case, a supervisor may ask to see a teacher’s lesson plans at any time. If a teacher is unable to show the principal the lesson plan while they are teaching, they can email it to their supervisor at another time. However, lesson plans cannot be collected in a mechanical or routinized manner. While teachers may be asked for a particular lesson, they cannot be compelled to submit every lesson plan for a week, month or year.

The UFT and the DOE reached agreement on a teacher evaluation system for the 2020-21 school year. Under this agreement, most UFT members will receive only one informal observation and members who have already had successful walkthroughs will not need to receive any additional observations at all.

Grading policy

Has the DOE released a grading policy for the 2020-21 school year? 

Yes. The DOE, as it did last spring, is advising schools to ensure that their grading policies take the challenges of remote learning into account in their grading policies. This means taking into consideration students’ access to learning devices and high-speed Internet, adjusting expectations for deadlines and submission of student work, and modifying the grading scale for assignments that may be impractical in a remote setting. See the DOE 2020-21 grading policy.

Live instruction

If I am working on site at a school with in-person students, can I be required to livestream my lessons to remote students?

No, it cannot be mandated and it cannot be expected. Teachers have the sole discretion to volunteer to livestream their classroom. Teachers can be asked by an administrator if they plan to livestream; however, no teacher can be encouraged or compelled to livestream and it cannot be included in any SBO process. 

What is the difference between live instruction and live streaming?

Live instruction (or synchronous instruction) for remote teachers can be defined as live interaction between the teacher and students at a scheduled time at the discretion of the teacher via platforms like Zoom or Google Meet. Remote teachers are required to incorporate some live instruction each day. Live streaming, on the other hand, refers to an in-person teacher, teaching in-person students, who broadcasts their classroom instruction to remote students at the same time they are teaching the in-person students. Teachers can live stream if they want to, but they cannot be mandated to by any supervisor and the requirement to live stream cannot be included in any SBO. 

In rare circumstances, remote teachers can be asked to teach remotely to in-person students. While this is not ideal, it may be the only option if, for example, the school has only one physics teacher and that teacher has a medical accommodation.  

Are there specific amounts of time teachers are required to provide live instruction for students?

In the Blended Learning Agreements document, there are minimum amounts of time listed for synchronous/live instruction according to student grade level, along with suggested times for asynchronous learning on a daily basis. 

Teaching assignments & schedules

Can an elementary school teacher be assigned to teach multiple grades? 

No changes to the DOE-UFT contract were made on this issue.  As always, classroom elementary school teachers are assigned to a group of students on a grade (with the exception of classes that are ordinarily composed of students from multiple grades), while cluster teachers can be assigned to teach multiple groups of students on one or more grades. 

How many consecutive teaching periods can middle and high school teachers be assigned?  

No changes to the DOE-UFT contract were made on this issue.  Wherever administratively possible, secondary school teachers should not be programmed to more than three consecutive teaching assignments.   

Can I be assigned small group instruction as a professional activity? 

Yes, you can. No changes to the DOE-UFT contract were made on this issue.  Teachers in schools that have professional periods can be assigned professional activities consistent with the contract. This professional activity assignment, however, cannot result in teachers being assigned additional classes to teach.   

Can an elementary school remote teacher be assigned a bridge class if this is not the ordinary practice of the school?

No, not without an SBO vote approved by the staff. 

Can teachers in middle schools teach three or four subjects? 

No changes to the DOE-UFT contract were made on this issue. Under the contract, the number of subjects in your program should be kept to the minimum number administratively possible.  

I am a teacher with a medical accommodation. To what type of program can I be assigned? 

Teachers with accommodations will be assigned programs of fully remote or blended remote students.  All efforts shall be made to assign all teachers to a program that is exclusively of one type. 

I am a teacher without a medical accommodation. To what type of program can I be assigned? 

Teachers without accommodations may be assigned to any type of program: blended in-person, blended remote, or fully remote. Your school must make every effort to assign teachers to a program that is exclusively of one type. 

Are schools required to create full remote programs or schedule remote teaching periods consecutively? 

No. Schools should continue to program in a manner that best meets the students' instructional requirements. All efforts shall be made to assign teachers to a program that is exclusively of one type (in-person or fully remote or blended remote). In the limited instances where a teacher has a partial program of one type, the balance of the teacher’s program may be of another type. This requirement may be modified via SBO.

How do we resolve issues where there are teachers who have been assigned to teach both in-person classes and remote classes?

Under the Blended Learning Agreement, all efforts must be made to assign teachers to classes of one modality: remote, blended remote or in-person, but can program teachers to multiple modalities if needed (e.g., program breakage, etc.). If the school-wide program design is based on teachers teaching in mixed modalities, then they must utilize the SBO process.

When will teachers plan for instruction? 

All staff will have a daily 30-minute instructional coordination period before the students’ instructional day begins to coordinate instruction and plan together. Teachers will also receive a 30-minute prep period at the end of the school day. Teachers will not be required to be in the school building during the prep period time and can engage in this unassigned professional work remotely. 

Will there be a Parent Engagement period this school year? 

Teachers will have 20 minutes daily of office hours scheduled during the workday to communicate with families and students. 

When will faculty and grade/department conferences take place this year? 

chools will have one faculty and one grade/department conference each month. These conferences will be 40 minutes each and will occur at the end of the school day, immediately prior to the teachers’ 30-minute prep. During these two monthly conferences, principals may assign teachers to administrative duties or professional learning.

Online teaching support

Does the UFT offer any individualized help with online teaching and learning? 

Yes. Our Peer Intervention Program (PIP) offers one-on-one help for tenured teachers from highly experienced colleagues to help with the challenges of remote teaching and learning. The program provides support every step of the way, from creating effective online lessons and projects, selecting the most effective virtual learning activities, to developing video-based mini-lessons, and much more. To learn more about the program and to apply for assistance, visit PIP's online teaching support page

SBOs

How does the UFT-DOE agreement of 9/25/20 relate to the Instructional Principles and Programming Guidance and the Blended Learning Class-Size Agreement?

The DOE and UFT agreed that schools should utilize the instructional model set forth in the Instructional Principles and Programming Guidance Document (July, 2020) and the Blended Learning Class Size Agreement unless modified by a School Based Option (“SBO”). If a school has a model currently in place that does not align to the Blended Learning Agreements (see below), then they must use the SBO.

If a school developed an instructional model that is not consistent with the Blended Learning Agreements -- for example all teachers have some in-person classes and some remote classes -- can the school use the current model?

Yes, provided it is approved through the SBO process. The DOE and UFT agreed that if school communities are operating in a different instructional model and wish to continue with it, school leaders and chapter leaders may jointly present the model to the UFT members as an SBO proposal and the UFT members shall vote on this model in a manner consistent with the SBO process.

In the unique event that the Principal and Chapter Leader are not able to agree to bring the current instructional model, as described in A above, to an SBO vote, the Principal may, within 2 school days, request the intervention of the Superintendent and District Representative. The Superintendent and District Representative shall meet with the Principal and Chapter Leader in an attempt to find an acceptable modification that would be subject to an SBO vote.

If the Superintendent and District Representative are not able to find an acceptable modification that would be subject to an SBO vote, the Superintendent may, within 2 school days, request the intervention of the Executive Superintendent and Borough Representative. The Executive Superintendent and Borough Representative shall meet with the Superintendent and District Representative in an attempt to find an acceptable modification that would be subject to an SBO vote. If, at any level, an acceptable modification is not brought to an SBO vote and approved, the Blended Learning Agreements must be followed. 

My school wants to change the program we created. Can we change it?

Yes, subject to SBO approval.

What parts of the DOE-UFT blended learning agreements can be changed through the SBO process?

In addition to standard contractual provisions (such as start/end times and parent teacher conferences). the following items in the blended learning agreements are among those that can be changed via SBO: instructional coordination, preparation periods, office hours, instructional lunch, work day, class size, teacher programs and instructional modalities (blended in-person, blended remote and fully remote). Schools cannot, among other things, change the length of the students’ instructional day.

Are these the only items that can be subject to an SBO vote this school year?

No, many traditional SBO modifications can be done. The list above refers only to the Blended Learning Agreements.

Does the 9/25/20 agreement change the SBO process?

No. However, in the unique circumstance that the school’s current program does not comply with the Blended Learning Agreements and the principal and chapter leader do not agree to bring that program to an SBO vote, we’ve negotiated an escalation process to attempt to find a resolution that includes the superintendent and DR.

In the event an agreement cannot be reached to bring the program to an SBO vote, the school must be programmed in accordance with the Blended Learning Agreements.

Does this escalation process described above apply to all SBOs?

No, it applies only to SBOs related to the Blended Learning Agreements.

Class size

What are the class size limits for blended and remote classes?

Elementary School:

In Person:
Pre K – 18
K – 25
12:1:1- 12
ICT – 32
General Ed - 32

Fully Remote:
Pre K – 18
K – 25
12:1:1- 12
ICT – 32
General Ed - 32

Blended Remote: ONLY IF WORKING WITH ON SITE IN PERSON PARTNER AND MINUS THE IN-PERSON STUDENTS FOR THAT DAY
Pre K – 36
K -   50
12:1:1 – 12
ICT – 32
General Ed – 64                                  

Middle School (Title 1)
In Person:

12:1:1 – 12
ICT – 30
General Ed- 30

Fully Remote:
12:1:1 – 12
ICT – 30
General Ed – 30

Blended Remote: ONLY IF WORKING WITH ON SITE IN PERSON PARTNER AND MINUS THE IN-PERSON STUDENTS FOR THAT DAY
12:1:1 – 12
ICT – 30
General Ed – 60

Middle School (NON -Title 1)
In Person:

12:1:1 – 12
ICT – 33
General Ed- 33

Fully Remote:
12:1:1 – 12
ICT – 33
General Ed – 33

Blended Remote: ONLY IF WORKING WITH ON SITE IN PERSON PARTNER AND MINUS THE IN-PERSON STUDENTS FOR THAT DAY
12:1:1 – 12
ICT – 33
General Ed – 66

High School:
In Person:

ICT – 34
General Ed - 34

Fully Remote:
ICT – 34
General Ed- 34

Blended Remote:  ONLY IF WORKING WITH ON SITE IN PERSON PARTNER AND MINUS THE IN-PERSON STUDENTS FOR THAT DAY                
ICT – 34
General Ed – 68

If you have a class that goes over these numbers, see your UFT chapter leader to file an operational issues report on your behalf. 

What do I do if my class size violates the limits negotiated for blended and fully remote learning? 

The DOE agreed to these class size limits, so schools must comply. In many cases, the blended learning model requires more teaching staff than traditional learning.  Administrators were asked to request additional teachers in order to sufficiently staff blended learning.  If you have concerns, speak with your chapter leader or district representative about filing an operational issues report. If your chapter leader has filed an operational issues complaint on the issue, it is already on the roster of complaints that the union is asking the DOE to resolve.

Prep periods

Do I have to be logged into a specific platform during my preparation period at the end of the school day? 

No. Preparations periods are for unassigned professional work. Teachers can take their preps remotely.

Does the agreement of 9/25/20 change my right to do my preparation period remotely?

No. 

ELL students

I am concerned that my ELLs are not receiving their mandated bilingual and/or ENL instruction during blended and remote teaching this year. How can I help them receive the full supports to which they are entitled? 

Please use the UFT ELL Complaint Form on our website at https://www.uft.org/teaching/english-language-learners/english-language-learners-ell-complaint-form to alert us of your concern. A UFT liaison will review the form and may also ask you to provide additional details about your complaint. The UFT liaison will then work with you to find a way to resolve the issue.