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There is no easy calculation for September

June 22, 2020 am30 1:35 am

At Wednesday’s United Federation of Teachers Delegate Assembly and again at Thursday’s UFT Town Hall, President Michael Mulgrew made the point clearly:

“Socially Distanced Capacity” divided by “# of Teachers” ≠ “Number of ‘cohorts'”

If you listened in, you heard him explain. Say you have a fourth grade with 200 kids. 8 teachers. Given your capacity, you can fit 100 kids into 10 rooms. But where do the extra two teachers come from? And who is teaching the 100 kids remotely?

He made it simple. Honestly, that was enough for the DA. But the situation on the ground will be far more complex. Push-ins change student capacity. We are not talking about lunch. Which, I assume, is a time masks come off? How much time will teachers stay in rooms without breaks? How will bathroom flow (pardon the choice of words) be managed?

It’s wonderful to say “oh yes, entrance can be staggered” – but I know the people saying it have not tried to do it. Nor managed distancing in hallways that are half-full. Nor stairwells. Nor elevators.

But we don’t have to go there. Mulgrew made it really clear.

And he had to. The DoE had put out an absurdly dumb powerpoint that facilely made it sound like all schools could be divided in two. Wednesday Mulgrew said it – most schools would need three, or four, and that still might not work. And then he described that imaginary school’s fourth grade.

I felt better. The initial UFT response – if I called it “unclear” that would be very generous. It actually sounded like they were accepting the powerpoint. So hearing Mulgrew Wednesday and Thursday – good thing. I already knew things sounded much better at the High School meeting last Monday.

So what’s left?  We do a capacity survey in each school, chapter leader and principal. Report our findings to the UFT. And then scratch our heads and start thinking. This work is complex. Me, I have been part of a UFT programmers focus group. I also co-founded a Facebook NYC Programmers Group for wrestling through this stuff. We haven’t actually done anything yet – the group is 3 days old, has 80 members, 55 or so of them programmers. I figure we will need over 100 programmers (180 – 200 members) to have the critical mass to do this sort of work. End of the week should do it.

So everything was going right. Mulgrew corrected the UFT misstep. Programmers group started. Now the walk-throughs.

I blew a gasket when I saw the UFT survey. They recycled the

“Socially Distanced Capacity” divided by “# of Teachers” = “Number of ‘cohorts'”

nonsense. It doesn’t work. It’s misleading. It creates false expectations. It also creates the expectation that armed with the right number of cohorts, a principal could program a school. And look – that’s exactly what might happen. And in that school – and let’s face it – there are many with principals who are self-confident, arrogant, and dumb –  the resulting chaos and lack of social distancing would put our members at risk. Kids too. So much for “safety first”

Now I am stuck. I cannot complete the walkthrough survey until the UFT corrects the survey.

I have to recommend that you not fill it out either. Wait. Or tell your Chapter Leader to wait. The UFT can fix this, can put safety first where it belongs. I am giving them a chance.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Katy permalink
    June 24, 2020 pm30 7:48 pm 7:48 pm

    I was also very annoyed by this survey. Shouldn’t it have more questions about safety and quarantine type things in the building, too?

    In the end I decided to do it because it’s just data for them that will prove that cohorts will NOT work! Put the answers in, perhaps slightly exaggerated (we selected “five or more cohorts”). They can’t ignore the flaws.

    • June 24, 2020 pm30 7:50 pm 7:50 pm

      Makes sense. I made my point. I will now fill it in.

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