Sunday, July 12, 2020

PEDIATRICIANS, EDUCATORS AND SUPERINTENDENTS URGE A SAFE RETURN TO SCHOOL THIS FALL

This news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics was sent out on Friday, July 10.

Science and community circumstances must guide decision-making; funding is critical

Washington, DC—The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA) and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, join together today in the following statement on the safe return of students, teachers, and staff to schools:

“Educators and pediatricians share the goal of children returning safely to school this fall. Our organizations are committed to doing everything we can so that all students have the opportunity to safely resume in-person learning.

“We recognize that children learn best when physically present in the classroom. But children get much more than academics at school. They also learn social and emotional skills at school, get healthy meals and exercise, mental health support and other services that cannot be easily replicated online. Schools also play a critical role in addressing racial and social inequity. Our nation’s response to COVID-19 has laid bare inequities and consequences for children that must be addressed. This pandemic is especially hard on families who rely on school lunches, have children with disabilities, or lack access to Internet or health care.

“Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff. Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools. Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics. We should leave it to health experts to tell us when the time is best to open up school buildings, and listen to educators and administrators to shape how we do it.

“Local school leaders, public health experts, educators and parents must be at the center of decisions about how and when to reopen schools, taking into account the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and the capacities of school districts to adapt safety protocols to make in-person learning safe and feasible. For instance, schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts.  A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for return to school decisions.

“Reopening schools in a way that maximizes safety, learning, and the well-being of children, teachers, and staff will clearly require substantial new investments in our schools and campuses. We call on Congress and the administration to provide the federal resources needed to ensure that inadequate funding does not stand in the way of safely educating and caring for children in our schools. Withholding funding from schools that do not open in person fulltime would be a misguided approach, putting already financially strapped schools in an impossible position that would threaten the health of students and teachers.

“The pandemic has reminded so many what we have long understood: that educators are invaluable in children’s lives and that attending school in person offers children a wide array of health and educational benefits. For our country to truly value children, elected leaders must come together to appropriately support schools in safely returning students to the classroom and reopening schools.”


About the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds

About the American Federation of Teachers
The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

About the National Education Association
The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at www.nea.org

About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

DEVOS ON CNN WON'T SAY DISTRICTS SHOULD FOLLOW CDC GUIDELINES IN REOPENING SCHOOLS; ON FOX SHE SAYS IF SCHOOLS DON'T REOPEN, THEY SHOULD LOSE FEDERAL FUNDS

Donald Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared on the State of the Union Sunday talk show earlier. Here is a  response from the Democratic National Committee War Room that was sent to the ICEUFT email account:

Sunday Shows, DeVos Can’t Ensure Our Schools Reopen Safely

On the Sunday shows today, Secretary Betsy DeVos made it clear that the Trump administration has no plan to ensure our schools can reopen safely.

Betsy DeVos refused to give a straight answer on whether students, teachers, and parents will not get coronavirus when schools reopen.

BASH: “Yes or no: Can you assure students, teachers, parents that they will not get coronavirus because they’re going back to school?”

DEVOS: “Well, the key is that kids have to get back to school. And we know there are going to be hotspots.”

Betsy DeVos downplayed the risk of children spreading coronavirus and repeatedly dismissed CDC guidance on how to safely reopen schools.

BASH: “I’m asking you about your own federal government’s guidelines, the CDC guidelines. And what the CDC has said is if children meet in groups it could put everyone at risk.

DEVOS: “Well the CDC has also been very clear to say they never recommended schools close down in the first place.”

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins: “Asked twice, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declines to say yes, schools should follow CDC guidance as they reopen. Instead she says every situation is going to look different and, of education leaders, ‘These are smart people who can figure things out.’”

Betsy DeVos made it clear that this administration has no plan for how to safely reopen our schools.

BASH: “Why do you not have guidance on what a school should do, just weeks before you want those schools to open, and what happens if there’s an outbreak?”

DEVOS: “There’s really good examples that have been utilized in the private sector and elsewhere.”

BASH: “Okay, but I’m not hearing a plan from the Department of Education. Do you have a plan?”

DEVOS: “Schools should do what’s right on the ground at that time for their students.”

Update

This is some of what the Secretary said on Fox News Sunday from Axios:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told "Fox News Sunday" that public schools that don't reopen in the fall should not get federal funds, and that the money should be redirected to families who can use it to find another option for their children.

Why it matters: The Trump administration is engaged in a full-court press to reopen schools this fall, despite warnings from some public health officials that the coronavirus outbreak is out of control in many states and that it will be difficult for many schools to reopen safely.

Grilled by Fox's Chris Wallace on what the administration is doing to make to make it safer or more feasible, DeVos repeatedly stressed that "kids cannot afford to not continue learning" and that she's not talking about places where the virus is "out of control."

"We're talking about the rule, not the exception. And where there are hot spots in the future and in the fall, of course that has to be dealt with differently," DeVos said.


Saturday, July 11, 2020

CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION SURVEYS MEMBERS AND QUESTIONS REOPENING SCHOOL BUILDINGS

Here is another example how real unions don't just have a seat at the table but take the job of protecting their members and the kids as a main priority. 

This is from NBC 5 Chicago:

While it remains unclear if Chicago Public Schools will resume in-person instruction this fall, many teachers have voiced concerns, wondering if returning to the classroom is worth the risk.

At a press conference unrelated to the schools' decision on Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said details on the district's reopening plan are set to be released, though she declined to give a specific timeline.

Paula Barajas, a special education teacher at Ruiz Elementary School on the city's West Side, said keeping schools clean was a challenge even before the coronavirus pandemic.

"...Doing it now during a pandemic makes me really nervous," she said. "I don't have confidence it can be done."

CPS has said it will work to develop its own rules and regulations to allow children to return to schools safely. Officials have planned to gather feedback from parents, teachers and other staff.

According to a survey by the Chicago Teachers Union, 85% of respondents feel they should not or might not go back to the classroom unless there is a detailed plan and resources guaranteeing a safe return.

"I haven’t heard much about PPE. I haven’t heard much about the six feet distancing," Barajas said. "I haven’t heard much about deep cleaning and what that would look like."

According to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, students and staff must wear face coverings, hand sanitizer must be readily available and daily temperature checks will be required.

However, teachers say those rules alone don't go far enough to ensure a safe return.

"How do we minimize the number of people in a space?" said Stacy Davis-Gates, CTU vice president. "How do we have good air ventilation in those spaces? How do we make sure we are conforming our space to meet kindergartners, high school students?"

You get the point. Do you see President Mulgrew questioning the deep cleaning or ventilation in NYC? On ventilation, Mulgrew said, "School HVACs for ventilation are being improved." What does that even mean? Many school buildings have terrible ventilation.

In NYC, we seem to hear a great deal about getting federal Heroes Act money and not much about how rank and file UFTers feel about opening  school buildings in a truly safe way. Has the UFT even surveyed all of its members on returning as LA and Chicago unions have? If I missed it, I will gladly correct the record.

Friday, July 10, 2020

UNITED TEACHERS OF LOS ANGELES RECOMMENDS SCHOOL BUILDINGS STAY CLOSED AND POLLS ITS MEMBERS ON THE SUBJECT (Updated with Poll Results)

As school is set to start in August in many parts of the country, The United Teachers of Los Angeles are taking a pro-active position against school buildings reopening. This is from a statement they put out:

LOS ANGELES — Amid COVID-19 infections and deaths surging to record highs, Trump’s threats to open schools prematurely, and a groundbreaking research paper that outlines necessary conditions for safely reopening schools,  the UTLA Board of Directors and Bargaining Team are calling on LAUSD to keep school campuses closed when the semester begins on Aug. 18.

“It is time to take a stand against Trump’s dangerous, anti-science agenda that puts the lives of our members, our students, and our families at risk,” said UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz. “We all want to physically open schools and be back with our students, but lives hang in the balance. Safety has to be the priority. We need to get this right for our communities.”

A little later on:

Even before the spike in infections and Trump's reckless talk, there were serious issues with starting the year on school campuses. The state and federal governments have not provided the additional resources or funds needed for increased health and safety measures and there is not enough time for the district to put together the detailed, rigorous plans for a safe return to campus. 

And what about hearing from the membership of the union?

UTLA is also engaging all members in a poll on Friday, July 10, to find out where they stand on re-opening campuses. UTLA will notify members and the media the results of the poll Friday night.

We are still waiting for that UFT poll unless I missed it and would anyone trust it to be fair anyway?

And more from LA as there is an update today from Fox 11LA:

LOS ANGELES - The union representing teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District is urging schools to keep campuses closed. The 2020-21 school year is set to begin next month. 

“We are asking the district not to reopen schools physically but to instead focus on negotiation on a robust distance learning program for the fall of 2020, UTLA Bargaining Co-Chair Arlene Inouye said during Friday morning’s virtual update.

United Teachers Los Angeles said it is not safe to return to school campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and that distance learning is the best way to go for the safety of students, teachers and staff.

“We are asking the district not to reopen schools physically but to instead focus on negotiation on a robust distance learning program for the fall of 2020, UTLA Bargaining Co-Chair Arlene Inouye said during Friday morning’s virtual update.

During an appearance on Good Day LA in May, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beautner confirmed school is back in session on August 18, whether students or back on campus or not. 

Parents have voiced concerns about the lack of clear messaging about what the next school year entails.

I wish we had a real union representing us here in NYC. I do not agree with every position UTLA takes but I certainly think they are fighting for their members and their students as their priority, not for their own perks and power. 

Update: We have the poll results via Diane Ravitch:

POLL Results: 83% of UTLA members say LAUSD schools should not physically reopen August 18

Out of the more than 18,000 UTLA members who submitted responses to our informal poll in less than 12 hours, 83% agree with the UTLA Board of Directors and Bargaining Team that LAUSD should not physically reopen schools on August 18.

Because of the overwhelming response to the online member poll, the deadline to submit responses was extended to 8 pm. There were technical issues related to some aggressive spam filters that interfered with delivery and the poll function. The poll asked one question: Do you agree with the UTLA Board of Directors and UTLA Bargaining Team that LAUSD should not physically reopen school campuses on August 18th?



UFT SOLIDARITY CAUCUS STATEMENT ON REOPENING SCHOOLS COVERED BY SELIM ALGAR

UFT Solidarity finished second to Unity in last year's UFT election. They are the largest opposition caucus, based on election results, in the UFT today. 

Solidarity Caucus issued a statement critical of the DOE reopening plan. It was covered in detail by Selim Algar in the NY Post:

The city’s half-in, half-out model to reopen schools this fall could damage kids in the long run, a teachers union group warned on Thursday.

“Inconsistent and chaotic rotation between in school and remote learning is a recipe for further disintegration of our students’ cognitive and social development,” the United Federation of Teachers Solidarity Caucus said in a statement.

The group weighed in one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza laid out a reopening plan that would have the city’s million-plus public-school students alternating two- and three-day weeks of in-school learning.

The kids would continue with remote learning in the other days under the mock-up, meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus by allowing for greater social-distancing on days when in-person class is in session.

In addition to scheduling upheaval, the teachers group stressed that the plan would have a disproportionately harmful impact on working parents who would have to schedule and pay for childcare to cover days when they have to go to work but their kids are learning from home.

“Parents who do not have the option of working from home or are essential workers must be given viable and safe solutions for their child’s care,” they wrote. “Remote learning may not be the best solution as parents cannot effectively work from home while simultaneously supervising their children’s education.”

Further down:

The teachers group submitted a long list of concerns over the reopening of schools and questioned the DOE’s ability to effectively address them.

“We question the feasibility and the ability of the DOE to prepare for and implement such critical and necessary protocols across one of the largest school districts in the nation in an effective and competent manner,” the group said.

All schools must provide all necessary cleaning and protective materials, the group has said, also calling for the “daily monitoring” and regular testing of students and staffers for COVID-19.

But the caucus said Carranza and de Blasio “have failed to prove either their ability or willingness to prepare for and implement effective measures during this pandemic” and haven’t sought to “address the urgent and valid concerns of teachers, students, parents, and families faced with an uncertain and unpredictable start of the academic year this coming September.”

The group additionally blasted President Trump for threatening to withhold funds from schools nationwide over reopening disagreements.

His positions “fly in the face of proven scientific fact and actual data” and “will not help the working poor of NYC or anywhere else in the country,” the group wrote.

Selim continued the story by noting how the CDC is standing up to President Trump on school reopening guidelines:

“Our guidelines are our guidelines, but we are going to provide additional reference documents to aid basically communities that are trying to open K-through-12s,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It’s not a revision of the guidelines; it’s just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance we put forward.”

Redfield also rejected Trump’s assertion that they were too restrictive.

“Right now, we’re continuing to work with the local jurisdictions to how they want to take the portfolio of guidance that we’ve given to make them practical for their schools to reopen,” he said.


Thursday, July 09, 2020

THE NY POST COVER ON BLENDED LEARNING

We had a request for today's NY Post cover so here it is. The Post agenda to harm public schools and unions is well known. Nevertheless, this headline is a classic. 


We kind of figured the city's blended learning approach would be easily mocked. It doesn't please the crowd that says the COVID-19 pandemic is mostly behind us in NY so they want kids back in school buildings. Nor does it satisfy the people who think we all should basically stay home until there is a vaccine or remedy. Nobody likes the deBlasio half-baked approach.

Reopening school buildings is not comparable in NYC to Europe, Asia or anywhere really as our COVID-19 outbreak was worse here than most places in the world and our country's situation is still declining. Has any school system had the deaths of its workers like NYC had in March and April? Many Covid-19 fatalities of school personnel were most likely caused in part by school buildings staying open in NYC too long. 

We are rightfully a bit apprehensive about returning to school buildings and sending our kids back. I don't know of too many who trust the Mayor, Chancellor to do this right or for the UFT to hold them accountable and ensure the safety of members and students.

I kind of think  some of this Onion story on Dallas could still apply to NY. It positively applies to President Donald Trump who says to just open schools, pandemic or not.

DALLAS—Saying the city remained on track for progressing into the final stage, Mayor Eric Johnson told Dallas residents Friday that they would soon officially be entering Phase 4 of pretending the coronavirus was over. “Thanks to the efforts of municipal employees, I’m happy to say we’ve reached the final phases of completely deluding ourselves into thinking that this pandemic has somehow stopped spreading and that we’re safe,” said Johnson in a press conference, in which he applauded the city for bringing them to this stage by successfully disregarding the virus in previous phases. 


MULGREW'S LATEST EMAIL WITH LINK TO DOE SCHEDULING MODELS

Dear UFT Member,

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza today unveiled the city’s most detailed plan yet for a partial reopening of school buildings in September.

The plan builds on the discussions that the UFT has been having with the Department of Education since May. We believe a blended learning model, with students in class on some days and remote on others, balances our safety concerns with the need to bring students back. The de Blasio administration, however, must offer a concrete plan for childcare for our members and for working parents for days when their children cannot be physically present at school.

Under U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines for social distancing, no more than nine to 12 people — children and adults — can safely fit into the average New York City classroom at one time. To meet those guidelines, the DOE released three scheduling models for schools in which the majority of students are in school buildings two or three times a week. The DOE provided two additional models for District 75 schools, which have smaller class sizes and unique student needs. Overcrowded schools may need an additional cohort.

All the scheduling models include a cohort of fully remote students. Families will be able to opt for a fully remote schedule for their children if they have safety concerns.


Most principals and UFT chapter leaders conducted walkthroughs in June to determine how many people each school building could safely accommodate. Then, given the school’s projected enrollment and staff, they calculated how many cohorts would likely need to be formed.

Building on that work, your principal and your chapter leader will now discuss which schedule works best for your school community. If you have a preference, please relay it to your chapter leader. Principals have been instructed to submit their initial choice of schedule to their superintendent by July 23.

Reopening our schools will be a complex and difficult process so we must continue to plan and prepare, but we are not going to be careless with our students, their families and our members.

Strong safety protocols must be in place in all schools. Today, the city released more details about its safety plans:

●Schools will require physical distancing and face coverings for all staff and students and will increase access to hand washing and sanitizer. 
●Every classroom will have hand sanitizer and disinfectant.
●Physical spaces will be configured to ensure appropriate distances.
●Lunch will be held in classrooms or require assigned seating.
●Each school or campus will have an identified isolation room in the event someone becomes ill.
●Each building will be deep cleaned on a nightly basis with electrostatic sprayers that dispense disinfectant so that it adheres to surfaces without the need to physically touch them.
●School HVACs for ventilation are being improved.

The DOE is still working on testing and screening guidance, a contact-tracing protocol and building entry and exit protocols — all crucial features of a comprehensive safety plan.

All of the scheduling choices are complicated to implement and present logistical challenges for working parents, but we believe a blended learning model is the best option under the circumstances. The DOE still needs to work out a lot of details, and the final decision to proceed with a partial building reopening cannot be made until late August since we don’t know what the future holds.

A partial reopening with dramatically reduced class size in schools and groups of remote students will be expensive at a moment when city finances are cratering. We do not believe that New York City can pull it off if Congress does not pass the U.S. HEROES Act this summer.

We will continue to advocate on your behalf throughout the planning process. Our primary concerns at this point are addressing the need for childcare and protecting the health of our members, our students and the families they go home to.

Stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

Michael Mulgrew
UFT President

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

CUOMO FLEXES HIS MUSCLES ON SCHOOL REOPENING

Mayor Bill de Blasio released a school reopening plan for September. Predictably, Governor Andrew Cuomo soon thereafter said it's the governor's call on how and when school buildings will reopen. He also challenged the president's authority on the issue.


New York State will decide by early August if schools can reopen in September after a monthslong shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday.

The state will publish guidelines on schools reopening by July 13, Cuomo said, and school districts will have to submit their plans by July 31.

New York will decide between Aug. 1 and 7 whether schools can reopen for the fall semester in any form, the governor said at a media briefing.

On Trump:

Cuomo said despite President Donald Trump’s calls this week that schools must reopen in September, the decision was up to state governors.

On Wednesday, Trump said he opposed some of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines — which include mask wearing by students and teachers — on reopening schools, although he did not clarify his specific objections. Vice President Mike Pence said revised guidelines would be coming out shortly but sidestepped questions about whether they were being changed to address Trump's concerns, The Associated Press reported. 

New York State education officials including Chancellor Betty A. Rosa, the Board of Regents, and Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe criticized Trump for pressuring schools to reopen even if it is not safe.

"The rhetoric from Washington D.C. calling on schools to be fully open with in-person classes this fall regardless of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic is a callous disregard for human health and safety, and puts the lives of those we have worked tirelessly to protect in jeopardy," they said in a statement.

“Any decision on the reopening of school buildings should be made based on the best science, data and guidance available from state and federal health professionals. To completely disregard what we have learned so far about this virus and require schools to open under the threat of losing funding during a time when state, local and school budgets are already facing extreme shortfalls is reckless and plays politics with our children’s futures," the statement said.

I think we are finally all caught up for the day on where it all stands currently.  What a state of confusion we're in.

REOPENING SCHOOLS LETTER TO PARENT COORDINATORS

This was received today. It was sent by two deputy chancellors to parent coordinators.

Dear Parent Coordinators,

Thank you for your dedication to New York City families! I hope you find time to rest and relax this summer. The transition to remote learning was incredibly challenging, and you served as a critical support to families to ensure that no students were left behind. As we prepare for the 2020-21 school year, your support to families will be even more important. The public health crisis continues, and it is in that context that we are planning for school reopening in the fall. While schools will reopen, we will be implementing social distancing and other public health protocols that are necessary to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.

This summer, you will be our point of contact for leading your school’s parent empowerment work. We need parent members of the SLT to participate in the planning process over the summer, and schools need to provide parents with regular updates about what to expect in the fall. We will provide you and your principal with a Parent Empowerment Toolkit for School Reopening that offers guidance on how to structure parent engagement over the summer.

If you have questions or would like support, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Family Leadership Coordinator, Family Support Coordinator or FACE Parent Empowerment Liaison.

Today, the Chancellor and Mayor announced the new split schedule program models that schools will choose from for the fall. It will be important to share that information with families, and explain that schools have not yet selected their model for next school year. Please consult with your principal to learn the process he or she will use to make determination on program model selection.

Please reach out to your families this week to share these updates by phone and/or emails. The most up-to-date information is available in the School Building Reopening Plan. Below are the most important takeaways for you at this moment including Overall Guidance, Developing Student Schedules, New Health and Safety Protocols, Equitable Education, and Keeping Parents and Families Informed. Please remind families that this guidance may change as city, state, and federal health guidance continues to evolve.

Overall Guidance
The 2020-21 school year will start in September 2020 (exact date is to be determined, pending a variety of considerations).

NYC public school students will be learning 5 days a week, whether in-person in a school building, or at home.

We will be maximizing in-person instruction as much as possible, given health and safety guidance. Students will return in either a blended learning model (a combination of remote learning and in-person instruction), or a fully remote learning model, based on the decision of their parents or families.

Health officials have made clear that the following basic safety protocols are key to reducing the spread of COVID-19 (I.e. social distancing, face coverings (masks), hand hygiene washing, and staying home when sick).

We are currently assessing student busing and transportation options for fall 2020.

Developing Student Schedules
It is clear that given the necessary health and safety requirements, it will not be feasible to have 100% of students present in any school building at the same time on any given day.
Under the blended learning models, all students who wish to return to instruction in the school building will be taught on-site in school for a portion of the week and remotely on the other days of the week.

 In August, schools will provide families each student’s definitive schedule. Schools will work with their school leadership teams (SLTs) to select the blended learning model and schedule that best addresses the space constraints of their individual building.

Families can expect children to be in school at least one or two consistent days per week throughout the year. Schools will make every effort to safely conduct as much in-person instruction as possible.

Families can elect to choose all-remote learning for their child. We will be following-up with more information on how they can submit their preference. The deadline for completing the form is August 7. There will be specific periods in the school year during which remote-only families may opt back into in-person learning.

New Health and Safety Protocols
All people in a school building must remain at least 6 feet apart at all times, including in classrooms, common areas, and during lunch periods.

Face coverings will be required for all students, staff, and visitors while inside buildings. 

Disposable face coverings will be provided to students and staff who need them.

Exceptions will be made for those who cannot wear masks for developmental reasons, including based on their age.

Students and staff will have increased access to handwashing facilities and sanitizer. Schools will be supplied with additional cleaning supplies, including hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, in addition to disposable face coverings to students and staff.

All schools will identify a space to be equipped as an Isolation Room in the event a student or staff member becomes ill while at school.

Our buildings will be deep-cleaned on a nightly basis with electrostatic disinfectant sprayers, and HVAC systems are being upgraded to ensure better ventilation.

Equitable Education: Now More Important Than Ever
We are focused on delivering a high-quality, trauma-informed, purposeful education for every student this fall. We know that many of our families experienced trauma and loss related to COVID-19, and that the last few months have been difficult for all. As we return to school buildings, it is important to make space for these experiences, and to recognize that our “new normal” is not what any of us are used to.

Teachers, staff, and students will have the time and supports they need to adjust to school and the necessary changes.

Social-emotional learning and trauma-informed care will be integrated into school programming throughout the year, and all NYC public schools will have access to offer mental health support programs for the full 2020-21 school year.

Students with disabilities will receive quality instruction and related services that will benefit them most. Students with 12-month individual education plans (IEPs) who have elected to receive in-person services are receiving them during the summer. This fall we will continue to offer in-person services to all students with IEPs who opt to receive in- person services, to the greatest extent possible. The safety our students and staff will be our top priority and we intend to continue to provide these services as long as receive guidance that it is safe to do so.

Due to COVID-19, multilingual learners were not given the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test, (NYSESLAT), an annual exam that determines a student’scurrent levelofproficiencyinEnglish. 
Multilingual learners are entitled to continue to receive targeted language supports and instruction, in-person or remotely, for the 2020-2021 school year. Schools will consider students’ current level of proficiency in English and home language to design and will receive an instructional program that will ensure continued progress in both their language development and content area knowledge.

Keeping Families Informed
As we finalize plans for a school year like no other in our history, we know how important it is that our students, families, and staff have the information they need to prepare. For each piece of information we are providing, more questions can emerge. Please visit the Return to School 2020 webpage on a regular basis for the latest updates at schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020.

In addition:

 Throughout the summer we will continue to engage with families, students, and community leaders—both centrally through the DOE and within each school community.
  DOE will host a series of Family & Student Information Sessions to answer family questions and concerns. The first session will be held on July 16. Visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 for the latest updates.
  Specific guidance will be coming soon for families with children enrolled in community-based organization (CBO) early childhood programs.
  DOE will convene community and advocate roundtable meetings, briefings with elected officials, Community Education Council (CEC) leaders, and more.

We are here to support you as we move forward together and plan for school reopening. 

Sincerely,

Donald Conyers
Interim Acting First Deputy Chancellor

Adrienne Austin
Acting Deputy Chancellor
Division of Community Empowerment, Partnerships, and Communications

MAYOR AND CHANCELLOR ANNOUNCE BLENDED LEARNING FOR NYC SCHOOLS FOR FALL

This is from ABC 7 news:

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza unveiled their "Blended Learning" plan for the city's 1.1 million public school students.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says that he believes this plan will preserve "health and safety while maintaining an understanding that the best way to educate our kids is in the classroom."

He added, "We're going to move forward according to the data, according to the state of New York," Mayor de Blasio said. He also warned that the situation could change along the way.

The mayor noted that most schools will not be able to have all of their kids in school at the same time. Classrooms will be limited to about nine to 12 students, with a dozen being the maximum. That's instead of the average class size of 30 students.

Blended Learning
- Students learning 5 days a week
- Mix of in-person and remote learning
- Most students in school 2 or 3 days a week
- Ensure safety in every school

Chancellor Carranza said that the plan to bring students back into school buildings requires the use of PPE and social distancing.

PPE and Hygiene
- Face coverings required for students and staff
- Nightly deep cleaning, cleaning throughout the day

- Staff training

Social Distancing
- Fewer students in each classroom
- Use of large spaces for classes like cafeterias, auditoriums and gyms
- Updated entry, exit and hallway layout to reduce contact
- Working with SCA, community partners to identify non-DOE space

Carranza said that there are three models that they unveiled to the city's principals on Wednesday. The schools will be expected to let parents know their child's schedule in August.

- Schools that can accommodate at least half its student body with social distancing guidelines can educate each student in person two or three days a week. Two school days would be consistent throughout the semester, while two cohorts of students would cycle in and out an alternating day.
- Schools that can accommodate a third of its students can educate each student in person one or two days a week. Three groups of students would attend school just once or twice a week. Those students would have one consistent days in the school weak and one day that changes week to week.
- Students with special needs in schools that already had very small class sizes could return for alternating full weeks or full-time.

The school models are based recommended six feet between students. If that recommendation decreases, the schools could possibly accommodate more students.

Students will also have an "All Remote Learning" option.

Parents will have opportunities throughout the year to transition their child into one of the in-person models should they so choose. Or, if any family wants to switch from the "Blended Learning" to "All Remote Learning" they may do so at any time.

Principals will hold parent meetings in July to discuss individual school plans. There will also be Citywide Family & Student information sessions with the first one set for Thursday, July 16.

Schedule for NYC Schools Restart:

July 8: All principals provided with scheduling options

July 8: School budgets released to principals

July 15: Parent portal opens for families to sign up for fully remote instruction

July 16: First virtual Family Information Session

August 7: Deadline for families to opt for fully-remote instruction and staff to submit medical accommodation

Governor Andrew Cuomo had said last week that the final decision on schools rests with the state.


Instead of making my usual not so bold prediction that this will be organized chaos in September as the system is rather dysfunctional under the best of circumstances, let me ask you:

Does anyone think blended learning can work successfully?


Tuesday, July 07, 2020

TEACHER UNION IN VEGAS REJECTS REOPENING PLAN AND WILL BACK MEMBERS WHO REFUSE TO PARTICIPATE

There are actual teacher unions in the USA that support their members as their main priority.  One such union is the Clark County Education Associtation, the independent local (not AFT nor NEA) for Las Vegas teachers.

This is from Fox 5 Las Vegas:

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The Clark County Education Association rejects the reopening plan proposed by the Clark County School District. 

Nevada's largest teacher's union, which represents 18,000 teachers, announced its disapproval of the plan in a press release on Tuesday afternoon.

"CCEA cannot sign off on CCSD’s current plan as it stands and will support every educator and parent who chooses not to participate in the reopening of CCSD," the release said.

The association highlighted its proposed components for a reopening plan, including testing every single teacher before they return to school, fully funding the reopening plan (rather than moving forward with budget contingencies) and giving every parent and teacher a choice to do distance learning five days per week or in-person instruction five days per week. 

Could you even imagine UFT President Michael Mulgrew issuing a similar statement supporting educators who will not participate in reopening NYC schools? 

This what Mulgrew did say in a NY Times piece from July 6:

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the city’s teachers union, said he did not believe that schools could reopen in any capacity without federal aid. (The union’s members received their scheduled 2.5 percent raises in May.)

If the state and city did not get money to spend on staff, protective equipment and cleaning, Mr. Mulgrew said, “then that’s it, all bets are off, schools won’t open.”

He recommended that any Department of Education employee with a teaching certificate, even members of the central office staff, should prepare to teach in-person or remotely come September.

What does Mulgrew do if schools in NYC are reopened with inadequate safety in place?

BYE BYE TEACHER'S CHOICE

The latest email from Michael Mulgrew shows Teacher's Choice very quietly was not funded. The program was reduced but survived 9-11 but not the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mulgrew says there are no layoffs in the city budget but for some reason neglects to mention that if a federal bailout and/or borrowing authority from Albany do not come, layoffs could still be on the table as of October 1.



Dear UFT Member,

Over our strong objections, Mayor Bill de Blasio cut the $20 million required for the Teacher’s Choice program for the 2020-21 school year in the city budget passed last week. I know you were counting on this money to buy classroom supplies, and we will fight hard for the restoration of the funding next year.

City lawmakers, who by law must pass a balanced budget, faced a $9 billion deficit this year after the New York City economy plunged into recession in the wake of the coronavirus. The final city budget contained a total of $404 million in new cuts to the Department of Education budget for the fiscal year that just ended and the new fiscal year while restoring $125 million in cuts that the mayor had threatened in April to make.

The City Council was able to convince the mayor to restore $100 million in fair student funding for schools, a funding stream that pays for staff salaries and school-level programs. No layoffs of DOE employees or other municipal workers were announced as part of the budget, but a school-based hiring freeze remains in effect.

Heeding the outcry from our union and other advocates for children, the City Council also restored funding for the Single Shepherd program, which pairs every middle and high school student in grades 6–12 in Districts 7 in the South Bronx and District 23 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, with a dedicated school counselor or social worker who supports them through graduation and college enrollment. The mayor had planned to eliminate the program.

Our allies in the City Council preserved funding for those UFT-supported initiatives that rely on Council funds: the UFT Teacher Center, United Community Schools, the Positive Learning Collaborative, the anti-bullying BRAVE initiative and the Dial A Teacher homework helpline.

The mayor also committed to a multi-year transition of responsibility for the school system’s more than 5,000 school safety agents from the NYPD to the Department of Education. Next year, school safety agents will receive additional DOE-led training in de-escalation, implicit bias and restorative justice. The plan at this time is that school safety agents will be DOE employees at the end of the process.

Given the unprecedented financial challenges that New York City and New York State face, we need the federal stimulus money in the U.S. HEROES Act to fend off worse cuts to our public schools down the road. The UFT, in partnership with the AFT, is leading the push for the passage of that legislation in Congress this summer.

The UFT will continue to fight to protect your safety, your profession and your livelihoods as we confront the challenges ahead. We are just at the beginning of this rocky road.

Stay healthy and safe.

Sincerely,

Michael Mulgrew
UFT President

Monday, July 06, 2020

IBO REVEALS ATR NUMBERS AND SAVINGS

Thanks to two readers who sent me a link to an Independent Budget Office report on the Absent Teacher Reserve pool. We have been repeatedly told by the UFT leadership that the ATR is a temporary position since the pool was basically created and expanded by the 2005 Contract. The pool is now being reduced gradually but is not ending anytime soon.

IBO reports on the actual numbers:

An examination of human resources data for pedagogues—including positions such as teachers, guidance counselors, and principals—shows that the number of positions in the ATR has declined steadily since the 2015-2016 school year. In October 2015, there were 1,341 pedagogues in the ATR pool. By October 2018, that number had fallen by almost 30 percent to 940 pedagogues. The de Blasio Administration told IBO that the size of the ATR pool was 725 in January and should fall to about 625 next year. As the size of the ATR pool has declined steadily over the past several years, it is unclear whether the savings from efficiencies included in this Preliminary Budget are truly that, or simply a reflection of an ongoing trend. Moreover, as the size of the pool is expected to decline, it will be harder for the city to realize recurring ATR savings in the future.


In 2018, this is what this blog said in opposing the proposed new Contract:

On Absent Teacher Reserves, the UFT said this was a temporary position back when we gave up in 2005 the right for teachers to be placed in a school in a district if excessed because of budget cuts and the choice of six schools on a wish list- and we were placed in one of them- if a school closed. We gave that up to allow principal discretion for hiring which created the ATR pool. As reported by City Limits, “Now, most agree that the ATR has led to more problematic consequences, and many teachers in the pool assert many of these consequences were in fact the intention all along.”  That temporary situation will go to 17 years through 2022 if this contract passes. That’s a lifetime for HS seniors and a career for many of us. Why can’t the UFT just say no deal until the ATRs all have a position in a school of their choice?

In this time of budget crisis during a pandemic, why not just place every ATR in a school of their choice (pick six, get one of them) as they did before the 2005  "Givebacks R Us" Contract? It won't cost the city a dime extra.