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July 21 UFT Town Hall

July 22, 2020 pm31 3:10 pm

A friend took notes

UFT Town Hall : July 21st, 3:15pm-4:45pm

With Michael Mulgrew

We know there are so many unanswered questions.

People got upset at City Hall because Mulgrew said it was 60/40, 60 we are not opening, because we do not have a plan. We are not going to go back to school if the schools are not safe. Every week that goes by, when there is still not a plan, it gets less likely. We are not childcare, we are educators. We know we need good childcare, but it isn’t our responsibility. We are happy to hear the Mayor last week say that he knows it is his responsibility and not ours.

You will be hearing a lot in the news today and tomorrow about the Heroes Act. We can’t do the different things we need to do, remote learning or opening school buildings, without it. Thank you to all the people who have advocated for the Heroes Act, teachers and parents. At this moment, it seems that Democrats and Republicans are fighting over who does more for education, which is a good sign.

Our priorities as always are:

  1. Safety
  2. Profession
  3. B. Livelihood

At this moment, NYC, in the last 14 days, we had 1.17% positive tests, and if we continue on that path, the state will greenlight the city to reopen the schools. The state will evaluate city plans, and if everyone will be safe.

Yesterday, with the AFT, we sued Florida because they want to open schools in 3 weeks and they are at 21% positive cases. These are tough decisions. We have a lower number, but we still don’t have a final plan that makes sure we are safe. Today the governor closed down some bars that were not following guidelines, and added more states to the list that must quarantine when traveled from.

The medical accommodation process has started. We have had 3k teachers apply so far, but it will be many more. You should apply for a medical accommodation if you meet the criteria.

By August 7th, we should have the numbers for which parents are opting for remote only in the Fall.

When we talk about in-person instruction, we are talking about how to make everyone safe. We should not have individual schools deciding this. If we do not open, we are 100% remote. All instruction will be done remotely. If we do open, a minimum of 60% will be done remotely. We are following CDC guidelines. The remote instruction really needs to be built out because that is the majority of instruction that will be done next year no matter what. Their central system can not provide for all schools, so schools will be able to decide on individual systems.

Everyone must wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart in schools. Some teachers or other staff may need more PPE given the risk of the work they do (i.e. nurse getting close to students).

Ventilation and airflow is a very big deal. There are certain schools with a lack of ventilation and airflow that will not be able to open. We are testing all the schools now.

All PPE has been ordered, as has the cleaning supplies, including “liquid covid cleaner,” which they will spray everywhere and kills covid. We are changing the air filters inside the school building, which does not allow covid to circulate.

Should everyone be tested before school starts? We need to do this. If the school opens, what happens? Doctors recommend random intermittent testing in schools. Monitor, monitor, monitor. Monitor neighborhoods with covid numbers.

We have to plan in case we do open. Right now, Mulgrew says it isn’t safe, we could not open today. But we have to plan for it in case.

Remote instruction is clearly going to be the majority of instruction. Accommodation can only be given to teachers with medical conditions, but he’s hoping because we will need so many teachers remotely, that we can accommodate some teachers with family situations who need to work from home – but this is not guaranteed.

How do we coordinate in-person instruction and remote instruction with the multiple people teaching each part? We will need to have common curriculum scope and sequence so that teachers can plan together for continuity of instruction. This is a huge challenge. The frustration is that the DOE has not given any instruction on how to do this to principals.

How do we work with schools that have many teachers who need accommodation, and other schools who don’t need accommodations for teachers, and then we need to share teachers for remote learning.

There is nothing stopping high schools from making certain classes remote only, and some schools are already doing this.

We are better on the safety side, because we have agreements on masks, cleaning supplies, etc. Although we don’t have the money for it, we agree on how to be safe. We are very behind on the instruction side. Principals union is also frustrated, because they feel the DOE is not offering a real plan. So if you ask Mulgrew today, he would say, no we are not opening. But if we can get all these plans together, money for safety, and the DOE meets all the requirements, then we could go back. But we have no trust and no faith in the DOE because of what they did to us in March.

This is not easy stuff. We have never faced anything like this. The biggest fear we have is that because the rest of the country is not doing what they are supposed to do, that the virus will come back into this city, and we will have to shut down anyway.

Priorities! Remember! Safety, livelihood, and profession.

We need childcare for our children. We are working with parents. We have shifted this onto the Mayor, who says he will create a plan. Regardless of if we open or not, we need a childcare plan for the whole city! People need to be able to work.

This is the worst summer of Mulgrew’s professional career.

We are preparing for either option, open or close.

We are not a childcare institution!

We always prepare, and are always ready to move in any direction we need to in order to serve our students. But this is not just about the students, it’s about us too.

We understand there is so much fear right now.

This decision will not be made, to reopen or not, until the last week of August or the first week of September (!!!)

Medical Accommodations:

If you have one of the accommodations on the list, is there any way you are denied? If you are granted remote, will you be attached to the same school?

Yes same school, and probably grade. If you have one of the conditions, the DOE has been very good, they said anyone with a condition will be approved. They have not denied anyone so far. There is no excessing for someone with a medical accommodation!

What progress has been made in hiring nurses for schools?

We have told City Hall and DOE that we are not opening without a school nurse in every school.

Principal was advised that students do not need to wear masks while they are seated if they are 6 feet apart.

No. If a child has a certain disability, they Might qualify for some kind of PPE adjustment for working with a child who cannot wear a mask. You should tell your principal that she works for the NYC DOE and not the DOE NYS.

Are buyouts happening?

We are negotiating right now, but no one is going to do anything about finances right now until we see what the federal government is going to do about it. The city is about $9 billion in the red. The mayor has threatened 20,000 layoffs, and we said, fine, then we definitely won’t open. I’m not holding my breath about getting the buyout.

If we are doing the hybrid model, will teachers be in charge of in person teaching and remote teaching?

No. If you had 30 kids, you would have 3 classes, so you would need to report to the building every day. You cannot be responsible for both. Schools need to load their curriculum online, and not every school has this. You could get a teacher who might teach live 1-2 classes, and then remote on the other days of the work week.

What will happen for teachers in Westchester who need childcare? How will the remote and in person teacher work together?

If you are teaching “elements of the story” on Monday remotely, then they would have to teach that also on the same day in person. This is why I think everything is going to get really bogged down to tell you the truth because this is an insane amount of coordination.

If you test positive for covid, what will happen?

Your CAR will not be affected, and you will need to test negative after the 14 days quarantine, before you go back to live instruction, so it might be 21 or 28 days out.

If I don’t have AC in our class, are we really expecting the kids to wear masks?

Yes we are. We might have a mandate because of airflow that you might have to keep your windows open anyway. Would not shock me if some buildings could not open because airflow is not enough. I am laser focused on airflow right now.

Who will be doing temperature checks and questions on exposure for the hundreds of thousands of children entering the building every day?

We are asking every school to create a building response team, but the issue is, who will take the risk? We had schools where no one wanted to take a child to the covid quarantine room. We will have guidelines, but the school needs to create their own plan that works for their school.

If the DOE says we are going back, and the UFT says we are not going back, what happens?

All I am going to say on this call is that I am preparing for what to do if they do that and we do not think it is safe.

I went to get covid tested today, and they said it would be 14 days until I have the results. What pressure can the union apply to speeding up the testing? I went to CityMD [btw this is slow – don’t go to urgent care- go to a public hospital for a 3 day turn around.]

If you go to a place that has to send it to a national lab, it’s going to take 14 days because of the other states blowing up with covid. You need to go to a place where there are local labs, which can do 2 day turnaround. They could get everyone in the DOE tested in 10 days if they were given 2 weeks notice.

If I teach another subject than I am trained for, will I be asked to teach it in this situation, such as performing arts?

We are really going to need the outlet to be creative, I know we have figured out how to do this remotely, so we will definitely need this!

We are going to have to repeat the lessons for each of the cohorts we have, but that makes it hard to complete the yearlong curriculum. Will we be responsible for completing it?

We need scope and sequence adjusted for this. We are working with the DOE right now.

How do parents feel?

The DOE poll reported as 75% of parents wanting to return to schools is inaccurate. The actual DOE poll said this: 25% ready to send their kids back, 25% don’t want to send their kids back, and 50% have a lot of questions. They are on the same page as us, which is great.

Are the retro payments/raises coming?

They are there as of now. If the Heroes Act comes through, we will have to see what are the details. Even with it, I don’t see us getting through the next 2-3 years without layoffs. NYC may change as a city, and then our population will change.

What will happen for D75 classes where diapers need to be changed, etc.

We will need more PPE for these teachers. We are still working on a plan. Students with more medical conditions may need to stay home. If we do not have a plan, we will not open it. We need training on how to wear PPE appropriately, as if we are in a hospital setting.

We work in the main office with 8-10 people, how will we be protected?

You will get masks and plexiglass up everywhere. And airflow tested for every room to make sure it’s proper.

If a teacher thinks a child is sick, will they be trusted?

You need a nurse, send them to the nurse.

What about the Spring days we worked?

We are going into arbitration for full pay for those 7 days.

What will the protocol be for PE?

Your school will have to pass the ventilation protocol. If you have windows open, and social distancing, they will be fine, calisthenics for kids, not using sports equipment because of cleaning. Ask your principal: is there a solution? If not, then it needs to be remote.

How long will the reasonable accommodation be for?

This would be for the period of this health crisis, unless you have a health condition that clears up. [Not sure what conditions would “clear up” – pregnancy?]

What accountability will there be for nightly custodial deep cleans?

They have been very responsive, they have bought the materials, and we have said very clearly that we need these cleaning protocols in place, because in March, the Mayor said we had cleaning and all the supplies, and it was a lie. If something does not happen, then it will automatically kick in UFT and DOE to step in and fix the issue immediately. The school will not open that day if it is not safe.

The deadline for accommodations is July 31st, what if you find out you are pregnant after that?

It’s fine, you are allowed to apply for a medical accommodation at any time, it is federal law. We just asked you to do it if possible by July 31st so we can fast-track it. If you have a question, please call us!

What if you do not live where you work for childcare? I will be late to school every day because I will have to drop off my child.

We don’t know yet because there are so many unanswered questions. We are asking schools to work out as much as they can, and if not, we will help you.

Where are all these remote teachers coming from?

The average class size in NYC was 28. This year it will probably be 12. We will need double the teaching force if we did all in person. Every remote accommodation teacher will be remote. Any DOE employee with a teacher certificate will be deployed to teach either remotely or in person. But I can’t answer that question because there is not a plan. We are not going to have 60 kids in a remote class to be clear.

What will the schedule be in Fall?

We are using blocked format from principals and programmers. Cohort A comes in Monday, you do 4 periods, Cohort B comes in Tuesday, you do 4 or 3 periods. Then the rest of the day is lunch and coordination with remote instructors. It becomes too complicated with 7 periods and lunch. Recreating the old school day is not the most efficient or effective way to do this.

What about the MOSL and evals?

We have not worked on this yet! Do not think about this! Eval cannot be reliant on MOSL.

We are having conversations about standardized tests for next year with the state. But we have to do safety first and foremost.

Parents cannot do work and support their children doing remote learning, so what are we doing to support these parents, such as paid leave?

We’ve done so much previously, like fighting for paid parental leave and living wages.

Can a school go fully remotely?

No they cannot. We are still at IF we can even open. But a school will most likely not be approved for a fully remote plan on their own. The odds are going up that we will be fully remote the longer we don’t have a plan. We are hopeful about the Heroes Act, but that’s not the only factor. All of this training is being built out, which he didn’t have time to discuss today. We gave the responsibility to the individual schools to plan because the DOE was not giving us good results. The DOE did not do this correctly in March, so now we have to do the right thing moving forward. I don’t know if we will be opening our school buildings in September. I do know we will be in session for schooling. As I said, if I had to make this decision right now, I would say no, we aren’t opening the school buildings. Thank you all for taking your time to be on this call. We will have a couple more of these town halls before the end of summer.


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