Thursday, December 31, 2020


I still don't quite understand why COVID-19 is so politicized. It is an airborne virus that spreads easily.  People staying home helps stop community spread. The absurd notion that COVID-19 does not spread in schools has been proven more than once not to be valid.

We have more evidence from New Jersey from that I found on RBE's Twitter:

From the article:

At least 83 students or staff members caught COVID-19 at one Essex County school in what appears to be the largest outbreak reported in a single New Jersey school building, according to new state data.

State health officials did not release the name of the school, the municipality or any other information about the outbreak, citing the need to protect the privacy of students or teachers who tested positive. It is unclear if the outbreak was in a public or private school.

This is not just related to school activity as later points out.

New Jersey defines school outbreaks as cases where contract tracers determined two or more students or school staff caught or transmitted COVID-19 in the classroom or during academic activities at school. Cases where people caught the virus during sports practices, at other extracurricular activities or from their families or people outside school are not included in numbers.

Keep staff and students safe. Remote learning until it's safe in school buildings.

Monday, December 28, 2020


UFT President Michael Mulgrew outlines the UFT's current thinking on opening school buildings in the middle of a pandemic in an opinion piece the Daily News. He calls the reopening of elementary and D75 buildings a "success" but later points out that "roughly 30% of those school buildings have been shut in response to a virus discovery." Judge for yourself whether he makes his case. 

In schools, safety matters most: The teachers union president lays out his COVID priorities



The arrival of vaccines against the coronavirus is the news we have been waiting for — the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. But we can’t let that good news lead the city to abandon a careful approach to getting and keeping our schools open.

The hundreds of elementary and other schools recently reopened have shown very low levels of coronavirus infection — thanks in large part to the protective equipment and procedures the United Federation of Teachers, which I lead, insisted upon.

But the in-school testing that should provide an early warning system for rising infection rates is already strained, making it unlikely that the system could meet the challenge of testing a significant number of reopened middle or high schools. In addition, even a rigorous testing process in the schools will not be enough if the overall infection rate in the city skyrockets after the holidays.

New York can’t let its success in re-opening its schools be undermined by trying to open more schools beyond the city’s realistic testing capacity, or by keeping schools open in the face of a significant increase in community infections.

So I say to those hoping to open schools at all grade levels all across the city: We need to go slow.

The standards under which schools reopened this fall included the guaranteed presence of enough masks and face shields, improved ventilation, rigorous cleaning and classes small enough to ensure social distancing — and the most extensive virus testing regimen in the country.

The city’s current agreement with the state calls for 20% of the eligible school population to be tested every week. In terms of sheer numbers, the city has so far been successful in meeting its in-school targets, reaching tens of thousands of people in schools overall.

However, a number of problems have emerged.

In many schools, the overwhelming number of test subjects are adults, not students. Some schools — despite the pledge to reach every building — have not been tested at all.

More troubling is the fact that the city promised to return test results within 24 to 48 hours — yet thousands of results have not been posted within this time frame, some as many days after the test crews have visited.

As of Monday morning, Dec. 21, for example, nearly 1,000 test results from Monday, Dec. 14 had yet to be posted.

The whole point of regular, frequent testing is to identify individuals who show no symptoms yet carry the coronavirus and can spread it to other people in the building. Exposing students and staff to infected individuals for up to a week is completely unacceptable.

New York City’s virus testing capacity far exceeds that of any other jurisdiction, but it is already spread thin over more than 800 buildings and other program sites. Adding the now-closed middle and high school buildings to this mix would only result in less efficiency, slower tests and higher risk for all. That would be unwise.

Even with its current problems, the testing process has kept virus rates in the schools under control, thanks to its requirement that buildings be closed from 24 hours to two weeks if infections are discovered.

Under these guidelines, hundreds of schools across the five boroughs have closed temporarily. Even since Dec. 7, when pre-K, elementary and District 75 schools reopened, roughly 30% of those school buildings have been shut in response to a virus discovery.

Given this history, if community infection rates rise dramatically, infections will inevitably seep into schools, causing an even larger rolling schedule of shutdowns. At the same time, based on our conversations with outside medical experts, at some point in a period of high infections, schools could even become centers of virus spread.

We cannot afford to relax our vigilance. New York City — the only major urban center in the United States to reopen its public schools — has successfully done so because of its cautious approach and rigorous standards.

Remote instruction is far from perfect, but thanks to the efforts of thousands of dedicated teachers, it is getting better. To ensure that it can be as effective as possible, the Department of Education must do more to see that all students have working devices and all families have access to WiFi.

I appreciate how difficult it has been for many parents to deal with the challenges of remote learning, changing classroom schedules and temporary school closures. As a teacher, I also know that nothing can really replace the personal, face-to-face relationship between instructor and student.

In-person education is vital for our children’s future. But in the midst of this pandemic their safety, and that of their teachers, has to come first.

Mulgrew is president of the United Federation of Teachers.


This is taken from Brief 19, a COVID-19 publication by doctors on the frontlines.

On December 20th, a "new" strain of the SARS-CoV-2 started making global headlines. Public Health England (an agency in the United Kingdom which carries out many of the functions that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does in the US) emphasized that this new version of the virus does not seem to cause more severe disease nor higher mortality rates. The concern is that this variant spreads faster than the "usual" strain of SARS-CoV-2. It also appears that children are more susceptible to this iteration, which has ramped up concerns but in the UK and around the world. 

Further on:

Children have never been immune to the novel coronavirus, but when kids come into contact with it, the virus less frequently enters the lungs and causes less significant disease, owing to differences between the respiratory tracts (as covered in Brief19) and lungs of children and adult. Changes in B.1.1.7 viral variant apparently make it easier for the virus to circumvent the advantages children have had in staving off clinical impactful covid-19 disease. The concern is that this new virus could cause symptoms and complications more frequently, though that has not yet been determined. 

And the conclusion:

Before you panic, it is important to remember sly mutations like this are a typical part of the viral playbook. Also, the vaccines being rolled out were developed to account for the likelihood that small shifts in viral proteins would occur. Therefore, the current versions of the vaccines are likely to retain their ability to neutralize the virus and prevent most disease. However, this strain may yet change how most people view children as viral vectors and force policymakers to reassess safety in schools. One thing is certain: no mutation can evade the effect of the simple public health measures that experts have been emphasizing. Make it your New Year's Resolution to maintain safe physical distancing, wash your hands, and wear a mask. These precautions can still outsmart this prevalent pathogen, no matter how many mutations it accrues.

– Joanna Parga-Belinkie, MD

Seems like sound advice from Doctor Parga-Belinkie.

Friday, December 25, 2020


Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and safe holiday to all. 

If you can, please contribute to the fund set up  by my former colleague  Jonas Abramson for the family of Jeremy Briones, a student I taught at Middle College High School. Jeremy tragically passed away earlier this month. 

The other school I was a teacher at was Jamaica High School. I miss Jamaica HS so much at this time of year. On the last morning before the winter vacation, many of the staff would sing holiday songs. This picture is from 2011. Thanks to Ibeth Mejia for sending it out.

Last night, for the first time in years, I got all sentimental and watched It's a Wonderful Life. The year has taken a toll on so many. I needed some hope. The buildup and the ending still move me after so many times seeing this film. Merry Christmas. Please stay safe.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020


 From Diane Ravitch's blog:

President-Elect Joe Biden selected Dr. Miguel Cardona, Commissioner of Education in Connecticut, to be his administration’s Secretary of Education.

Diane copies the Washington Post article on the selection where they note that the Democrats for Education Reform types won because a progressive educator was not picked for the job.

Ravitch then opines:

So this much is clear. Biden rejected the progressive candidate, Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick. However, Dr. Cardona is not a Broadie, not a DFER favorite, not a member of Jeb Bush’s “Chiefs for Change.” All of this is good news. We know that these fake “reformers” lobbied hard for one of their own. They lost. That’s good news too.

Dr. Cardona has not taken a position on the major issues that define the major education policy battles of the past two decades. He has been critical of excessive testing, but does not oppose the use of standardized testing on principle. He has been critical of test-based evaluation of teachers (a major element of Race to the Top), because he knows that it doesn’t work. 

I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic right now. From the Washington Post story that Ravitch cites, we also learn that one of Cardona and President-Elect Biden's major goals is to open school buildings as fast as possible. That could mean problems. 

The Connecticut Education Association is optimistic. Here's part of their reaction to Cardona's selection:

“Cardona is a Connecticut public school educator who understands the federal role in increasing educational opportunities for all students, seeks teacher voices in collaborative efforts to help improve schools, and recognizes that highly qualified teachers are the greatest asset in public education,” says CEA President Jeff Leake.

And later:

“Throughout the pandemic he has worked closely with education stakeholders to address important issues facing our students, teachers, families, and communities and has ensured all students have access to technology for remote learning,” Leake adds. “He believes teachers need to have a seat at the table in order to develop well-informed education policy. He has always sought out diverse educator voices as experts and welcomed their experience and knowledge on many issues that impact educators and their students.”

Cardona worked alongside educators to address important concerns but many challenging issues remain unresolved. Last spring he waived the 180 school day requirement when the pandemic hit, worked hard to ensure graduating students received the recognition they deserved when schools were forced to close, secured a federal waiver from annual standardized testing, waived teacher evaluation requirements at the end of the last school year, and supported remote work options for teachers unable to teach in-person due to health conditions, quarantine, or childcare issues.

As commissioner, Cardona has brought diverse groups together and welcomed the continuing conversation and sharing of perspectives with education groups including CEA, AFT Connecticut, and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, while working to address the challenges facing public education in Connecticut.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2020


The latest from UFT President Mulgrew to chapter leaders and delegates on ventilation.

With winter upon us, there are a lot of questions about how to stay both safe and warm in our school buildings during this pandemic.

How many windows need to be open? What should the temperature be in a building? Do the vents in the classrooms even do anything? UFT industrial hygienists have answers to these commonly asked questions and more in this short video on winter ventilation safety.

Watch the video» Ventilation in schools

These tips from our experts can help keep the rooms in your school both safe and at a comfortable temperature during these colder months.

See our FAQ on safety for more detailed information and guidance on ventilation.


Michael Mulgrew

UFT President

It's all good in the schools according to the UFT President.

Chapter leader and one of UFT Solidarity's leaders Quinn Zannoni did some research. He comments:

Endless UFT BS about ventilation.

Quote from video at 4:58 - "If you are working in a room with no windows or mechanical ventilation, you must use an air purifier."

From EPA Website: Air cleaners and HVAC filters in Offices, Schools, and Commercial Buildings - "Air cleaning may be useful when used along with source control and ventilation, but it is not a substitute for either method. Source control involves removing or decreasing pollutants such as smoke, formaldehye or particles with viruses. The use of air cleaners alone cannot ensure adequate air quality, particularly where significant pollutant sources are present and ventilation is insufficient."

Since September they said absolutely no classrooms without windows or mechanical ventilation were permissible. Now they are violating their own standards, and EPA guidelines.

Also, here's the latest from the NYC Situation Room:

Please no comments on opting out. We need a better union that looks out for its members with everything it has. Opt outers please start your own blog. Koch industries might even sponsor you. 


This post is dedicated to the commenters who opt out of the UFT every time we post anything.

CUNY management has delayed the 2% salary increase scheduled to go into effect in November. The union for faculty members (The Professional Staff Congress) has responded.

From the PSC website:

 Dear PSC Members:

I hope this finds you and your loved ones in good health at this difficult time.

I’m writing to update you on the union’s fight for our contractual salary increase and to share information about the delay. CUNY management’s unilateral decision to break our contract cannot go uncontested, even at a time of economic crisis. The decision to delay our raise was not inevitable; it represents a choice by the CUNY chancellor to impose hardship on the faculty, staff and students rather than oppose the State’s austerity funding.

For many members living on tight budgets or counting on the extra income to help others during the pandemic, the loss of the expected increase has created real financial strain. For other members, the failure to pay our raise on time may feel more like a slap in the face, a further sign of disrespect, after months of crushing increases in workload. Regardless of our circumstances, we all have a stake in defending our contract. PSC members are not a piggy bank for CUNY or the State; we should not be compelled to make an involuntary loan. The union is fighting back through a class-action grievance and is prepared to take further action, including exploring all available legal remedies. If you haven’t sent your letter of protest to the chancellor yet, please send it today.

It is not easy for any union now. PSC is grieving the indefinite postponement of the increases. This will take time. Unions cannot wave a magic wand and get what they want. Granted PSC members are basically working from home and not being forced to go into what are increasingly COVID-19 infected buildings as K-5 and district 75 UFT members are. 

UFT makes many unforced errors but all of us as union members need to step up our game by working for a stronger union, not abandoning it.

Sunday, December 20, 2020


From our notes on last week's Delegate Assembly, here is the part on teacher evaluations that has me quite concerned:

Question: Thanks Mulgrew, Principal scheduling observations and teachers have been told they would be doing observations. What is the status of that?

Answer: There are no observations. There is no evaluation agreement. State has not waived student learning but left evaluation up to districts. Many would like to go S or U but using authentic assessment will lead to teachers being treated in a fairer way. S or U led to thousands being rated poorly because they had a fight with a principal. Let's get basic authentic assessment in for this year. We are telling our people to do that. No observations at this point. We should have APPR done by early January. We need protocols on online classrooms. Administrators saying they want access as a teacher into a classroom. They already have access as administrator. They don't know how to run their own digital platform.

Recall that last school year evaluations were waived so everyone basically received no rating but pedagogues were still tenured. For this year, the choices are satisfactory-unsatisfactory or some variation of the Measures of Teacher Progress-Measures of Student Learning system. Mulgrew said we should have something done by early January. I am not expecting anything decent based on the UFT's track record. 

How are administrators going to figure out the MOSL's? What are going to be the authentic assessments if there are no state exams? What are the local assessments? How many observations are going to be required by principals or assistant principals who mostly have less experience than the teachers on remote or socially distanced classes? Teachers and students have enough to worry about during a pandemic. I foresee the UFT and DOE agreeing to a less than ideal system. (That's not a bold prediction.)

What the union leadership should be doing is asking teachers how they want to be rated. A survey would be a good start. Tell chapter leaders to poll their members and get results back to the district representatives on whether teachers would prefer an S or U system or a MOTP-MOSL system. Please answer in the comments section and spare me the comments on opting out.

If you want your voice heard on the issue, now is the time to raise it up real loud. Two friends, John Lawhead (ICE-Solidarity) and Quinn Zannoni (Solidarity) had what I thought was a very good resolution on evaluations that Mulgrew ran out the clock at the DA so he wouldn't have to deal with it. 

Motion No. 4 — Resolution Rejecting Remote Teaching Amendments to APPR (submitted by Quinn Zannoni)

WHEREAS, principals across the NYC Department of Education have been sharing among themselves a newly released Danielson Group framework for Remote Teaching; and

WHEREAS, the Danielson Framework for Remote Teaching is not on the New York State Education Department's list of Approved Teacher Practice Rubrics for New York State; and

WHEREAS, there is no sound basis for using any remote teaching evaluation framework, as there are no proven, research-based “best practices” for the experimental remote learning modality which has been under development and in operation for less than one full school year; and

WHEREAS, the city has adopted a remote teaching modality as a temporary emergency response measure and has no contractual approval to continue with the practice beyond the limited scope of a pilot program teaching high school AP and foreign language classes; and

WHEREAS, under the extenuating circumstances of a pandemic, adding an arbitrary, untested framework/rubric to an already confusing mix of ever-changing DOE directives regarding online schooling will do nothing but cause confusion and add stress for all stakeholders; and,

WHEREAS, most building administrators have no experience in teaching or evaluating teachingin an online setting; therefore, be it

RESOLVED that the UFT rejects any framework or rubric that purports to measure teacher effectiveness in a remote setting.

Calling it a day on ratings and waiting until next school year seems like a good suggestion.

What teachers need to do right away is scream very loudly if you don't want a remote version of the evaluation system thrown at you in 2021. At the very least, any agreement that changes the Contract the should be voted for by the Executive Board, DA, and membership. It won't happen if you scream to opt out and not to fight back. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020


The latest email from Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey is copied below. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is attempting to open school buildings in January as the pandemic continues. The CTU lost a round in a 2-1 decision from the Illinois Labor Board. CTU is demanding safety, equity, and trust from the Chiago Public Schools in order for them to reopen.

As you read the email, notice the difference in tone between Sharkey and UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Don't abandon the idea of a union. It matters.


We are working hard to reopen our schools safely during this unprecedented holiday season. This has been an arduous and challenging year for many, including myself. My mother passed away in October, and earlier this month, her partner of 25 years lost his battle with COVID-19. Our union has mourned the passing of some of our most beloved members this year — Tom Lalagos, Olga Quiroga, Sherri Dabney-Parker, Luba Johnson — and many others in our school communities. We have lost students to gun violence.

Our guiding principle since March has been safety and survival, and through our work in this pandemic, we are also guided by our responsibility to advocate for educators, students and their families, and the communities we serve. We view all of these interests as intertwined.

This week, the concerns we have been expressing for months were confirmed: The majority of our families are prioritizing safety, and are reluctant to return their children to school buildings right now.

This was the case in August, and again prior to the start of the second quarter in October. Families aren't relying on Chicago Public Schools to provide equity, because they know the district has failed them on that front for years. Families are saying that safety is equity.

Now the question becomes, are we keeping the educators and students inside of our buildings as safe as possible, and are we offering the best education we can for the majority?

Yesterday's news

CPS continues to refuse to bargain on safety issues with us, just as it continues to refuse to make remote learning better, as students, families and educators have asked for months. Yesterday, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB), on a split 2-1 vote, denied our request to seek a preliminary injunction against CPS’ unilaterally developed plan to resume in-person learning on Jan. 4. Acting IELRB chair Lynne Sered agreed with us, saying "Health and safety is a mandatory subject of bargaining ... we are literally dealing with life and death, which amounts to irreparable harm."

IELRB members Gilbert O'Brien and Lara Shayne voted to send the issue to trial to decide whether the decision to resume in-person learning is a question of “places of instruction” — a permissive subject of bargaining under section 4.5 — or a matter of health and safety, which is a mandatory subject of bargaining under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act.

We're pushing for an expedited hearing next week. We're also convening our executive board on Monday, and planning an all-member tele-town hall next Tuesday to talk about recent developments and land next steps.

Three principles

We are passionate about the importance of in-school instruction. We should have in-person school as soon as practicable, and once we’ve addressed three things: safety, with a clear, reasonable public health metric; trust, including a way to make sure that Central Office policies are implemented on the school building level; and equity, which will address our students' health, and social and emotional needs.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot's health commissioner, Dr. Alison Arwady, has said that school is safe to open right now. She said the same this summer — literally the day before CPS announced that schools wasn’t safe and we weren’t reopening.

While I respect the work of medical experts, I need to point out that CPS is refusing to name a daily case rate which it deems as safe, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Detroit and numerous suburban and collar county school districts, have all established positivity rates which go along with in-school mitigation strategies.

CPS has not answered the question: "How many cases a day is safe?" If 20 percent of the people who go for a test come back positive, there are too many people going into school with the virus.

How do we get back to in-person school? Give educators and the public a reasonable number, hit that number and we can go back. Otherwise, wait. There is a vaccine and warmer weather coming.

Building safety

I must point out again out that CPS is, frankly, just lying about a number of things — including its claim that ventilation systems in our schools can help reduce the spread of the virus. That's just not true, because CPS has never tested its ventilation systems for COVID-19 mitigation.

In fact, the district told contract workers not to test ventilation systems for COVID-19 mitigation. So we simply do not know, and that's not good enough.

CPS has also misled the public about the portable HEPA filters it has purchased, which do not have the capacity to effectively filter a space larger than 500 square feet. The district warehoused those filters for months, even as some of our school clerks became infected with COVID-19 in buildings they were forced to return to on August 26.

We learned this week that one school has closed all of its mobile classrooms because of ventilation issues, and we still have grave concerns about ventilation risks.

Finally, the mayor and CPS keep claiming that schools are not sources of COVID-19 spread. That, too, is simply false. In Illinois, schools are the largest identified source of COVID-19 infection in contact tracing for potential exposure sites. And while we've argued for months that the data on this issue is thin and incomplete, a growing body of research is showing that schools and children, who are overwhelmingly asymptomatic, are in fact potent sources of spread, especially when building conditions are poor and there is wide background community infection.

Those are our school communities. That is CPS.

Real equity

COVID-19 does not affect all communities equally.

People who work in the service sector, live in crowded, multi-generational housing and have poorer access to health care to begin with, are getting hit the hardest. This is a lot of our CPS families.

Many people are dying. Many more are contracting COVID-19. We have positivity rates of 20 percent and higher in many Chicago communities.

What we’re seeing is that a large majority of families are not yet ready to send their children back to school for in-person instruction, especially families in neighborhoods where COVID-19 infection and deaths are the highest.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson says that a majority of the students returning to buildings are Black and Latinx. This is typical of how CPS is disingenuous in its messaging, and claims equity to mislead the public about a plan that is actually worse for Black and Latinx students — a strong majority of whose parents are rejecting a return to buildings and choosing not to send their children back to buildings.

A majority of the children returning are Black and Latinx because those two groups make up 90 percent of CPS students. And CPS is planning a grave disservice to their families because its current plan will weaken remote teaching.

Make remote learning better

Because the majority of students will be staying home, forcing all teachers to return to school buildings will actually harm the education of more children than it will help, because inevitably, their attention will be occupied by the small number of students in classrooms instead of the larger number online.

For the mayor and CPS to claim equity as their motivation, and shortchange the Black and Latinx families who have chosen to remain remote, doesn't add up. It’s not even clear to me that we can meet the state mandate for synchronous learning for these families who have chosen to stick with remote learning.

The mayor and CEO Jackson say parents have a choice, but it's really a false choice. Under their plan, parents who choose remote do not have the option of having a teacher with undivided attention. And 40,000 teachers and support staff do not have a choice. The mayor's CEO is telling educators to return or be fired.

But as a union of tens of thousands of teachers, PSRPs, social workers, clinicians, nurses and librarians, we do have a choice. We object to this plan, which has been shaped by CPS alone without bargaining with our union. The 43 meetings CPS claims we've had mean very little when we're being stonewalled. Holding meetings, then ignoring and refusing reasonable requests, isn't engagement.

Right now, we are campaigning, meeting with elected officials and pursuing our objections in court. And we hope that public pressure works, because safety must be paramount.

If not, our union will have internal discussions about what to do next, and what actions we will take going forward to protect our school communities. We hope it does not come to that, because we’d like to be able to mutually work with CPS and say we all think it’s safe to come to school.

But if the mayor and CPS ignore our demands, which are reasonable, we will take whatever steps necessary to ensure that we open buildings only when the safety, equity and trust we need is finally in place.

Stay vigilant, and have a safe and healthy holiday season.

In solidarity,

Jesse Sharkey

CTU President

Friday, December 18, 2020


It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Jeremy Briones. Jeremy was part of Middle College High School's fifth year program where graduates take a fifth year at the school to complete an associate's degree at LaGuardia Community College. His family is in mourning and really needs some financial support. We are praying for them.

Please contribute to Jeremy's GoFundMe that my former colleague Jonas started.

Jeremy was a star in one of the classes I taught in my last year. He was in grade ten at the time. Nationalism is an important theme in grade 10 global history so I had each student pick a nation and become our expert on that country. They then had to promote their country against another one in a debate. Jeremy chose Cuba.

His debate against his friend Juan in our battle of the nations is something I will not soon forget. Jeremy defended Cuba with real evidence while Juan supported Afghanistan with some facts but Juan was determined to also attack Cuba's government. Juan printed up about a hundred fliers denouncing both Cuba and Jeremy. Jeremy was ready. He responded by saying a communist government can be awful but it can still do good for its people by improving healthcare and education. I think Bernie Sanders used similar arguments. Maybe he borrowed them from Jeremy.

I had such a great time with Jeremy's class that met first thing in the morning. It didn't feel like work. Jeremy had a kind heart too. He had such a bright future. God called him home for a reason but I sincerely plead with the Almighty to stop taking Middle College students from us. They are needed here too.

To any Middle College students or alumni who read this, please be careful out there and take care of your health. This is the second time I have had to write about a tragedy befalling a Middle College student. Please let it be the last one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020


No trouble getting on today so I am on time. We will keep updating.

The meeting began with Michael Mulgrew introducing himself and welcoming Delegates to the last DA of 2020 which happily will soon be over. Calls the people on the call the leaders of the UFT. Says Chapter Leaders and Delegates have been looked to and what CL's and Delegates have done has been phenomenal this year. Recognize what you have done. We've been fighting but using doctors to do what's right but it doesn't matter if it doesn't work at the building level. We have challenging administrators. In the mayor's race, we want DOE bureaucracy to change to support the schools, not themselves. People contacting us, remembering all the deaths. The School system has been protected by Delegates and Chapter Leaders. 

Tomorrow with snow is an instructional day. First grievance out of COVID will be for compensation for spring break 2020. We were not meeting our minimal instructional days with the State Education Department for 2020-2021. SED accepted our calendar with two remote instructional snow days. NY Times said this is the end of snow days in the United States but the calendar is only for this year. Our calendar has the most holidays in the United States. Don't want to give up holidays or eat into our breaks. We will visit this in the future. There is no substitute for live instruction but members find some things with remote valuable but there are others that we don't want to keep.

We never believed the state should have a statewide program on COVID. When city wanted to move their plan, we had no problem because of testing. We closed over 500 schools. If there was a hint of this virus, there was affirmative action. Linked cases mean they are isolated. Non-linked cases mean a school shuts down. Over 40,000 tests last week. Problems last week. We will go to court if conditions aren't met. State says city must adhere to agreements. 

Problems: Randomness. 20% of schools had no testing. When they were doing 20% per school per month, we asked that entire school be offered testing. Many volunteered. When people are in schools, there isn't alot of COVID spread. Doing 20% per school per week meant they could no longer test whole schools. They did not hit 20% per school target. They tried to test the whole school in certain cases. They could no longer do that. Getting the test results back became a problem. Give tests on Monday and results on Friday is not helpful. 

(At this point the signal dropped. Sorry, trying to get back on.)

I got back on a few minutes later when Mulgrew was talking about children being upset. By in large, it is working with nurses dealing with students in D75. Incident with lunch in Brooklyn. Staff tried to stop principal. They documented everything. They had statements done. DOE upset. We don't care. Teachers are heroes. They tried to fix it and when we got involved, it improved. Everyone was tested.

Following State Covid-19 numbers. It is not acceptable, irresponsible if city shuts down and school buildings stay open. City and other hotspots in the state have plateaued and are starting to move down. How  do we get the vaccine to those who want it so we can move back to some kind of normal?

1,140 operational complaints from over 700 schools. Most resolved. There is compensation involved that involves money. Superintendents say they have no money but that is their issue as they did this. We are teaching in non-ideal conditions. More information, myths, and misinformation out there but we continue to get our work done. UFT Member Assistance Program overrun. Also, kids have regressed developmentally. We are dealing with tough situation. DOE wants teachers to teach online tomorrow. Put up lesson and let the kids do their work. It will take five days for DOE to figure this out. Principals get very little direction. Good principals, it's okay without direction but for power-hungry and inept principals this is a problem. 

Federal-Big problems with the current stimulus package. Election has not changed things where people will now work together. We are trying to keep education money in the stimulus. State and local looks like it is out. Eviction protection is a big deal. If the virus gets out of control in NYC, we shut down. Safety is important. Next piece is livelihood. In many other states and districts without strong unions, many have lost their jobs. We need a massive federal stimulus next year. There has to be money directly tied to education where states can't divert that money. Georgia Senate race is important. For next year, there will be the biggest turnover in City Council history. State is $15 billion in red; the city is $9 billion and the MTA is $4.5 billion in debt. The entire debt was $7 billion in 2008. We need a massive federal stimulus. Do we want a fight? No but will we fight? Yes. Protecting livelihood means we have to be very politically active. We are interviewing all sorts of City Council candidates. We would like to endorse 21 people in January. We have to talk to the mayoral candidates. Reporters want to talk about mayoral control but they don't want to talk about the money. What happens in the next couple of days is important but we need a bigger federal package next year. Whoever wins the city races will be our partners for the next few years. We need people who are smart and know what they're doing. Teachers in City Council term-limited out. 

State-School systems opening and closing. Large systems that never really opened dealing with layoffs. If state and local money is off the table, Governor a little crazy. We are monitoring it. A glimmer of hope at the state level with testing and vaccine distribution. Vaccine is not mandated. Teachers and school staff are in the second tier of vaccine distribution. Healthcare workers and nursing homes in the first tier. Then essential workers and people with health conditions are next. Follow the Moderna vaccine closely. It is as effective as the Pfizer one but it is easier to administer. President-Elect Biden wants schools open in the first 100 days but we want PPE for the entire school year. How do we plan? We don't know if more children will be allowed into schools. Close to 90% of operational complaints tied to blended learning. We need live and fully remote. Schools know how many opted in. If that is less than 35% of entire school population, you need to have a conversation about 5 day a week schooling. DOE instructional people never did their job correctly. If you are a school that is open, number of in-school learners can only go down. Those who have not shown up by December 23 should be placed in all remote. No rulebook on how to run a school system this way. That is why we went to operational complaints.

End where it began by thanking the CLs and Delegates. Only large system in the country that is open. Safety, protect profession, (enemies like Kochs still saying we haven't done our job). Biden transition people have come to us about opening the schools. It comes down to the people at the schools. We dedicated our lives to taking care of children.

Staff Director's Report- Leroy Barr reports on some upcoming events. Many firsts with Kamala Harris as VP. UFT showing film Chisholm about Shirley Chisholm on January 21. Special election Dec 22, UFT endorses Kevin Reily. Happy Holidays.

Mulgrew back thanks Rich Mantell for coat drive. Got 800 coats out. The homeless population growing. He thanks Anthony Harmon for working on delivering meals. Food crisis in NYC. We are helping out. Karen Alford helping homeless coalition coat drive. Jeff P, Ellie Engler and UFT safety team running from school to school making things work. 

Question Period

Question about testing. Tested last Wednesday but 15 haven't received results.

Mulgrew Answer: New process. Issue with testing, contact District Rep or Borough Office so it goes right to safety people. Tell Donna the District Rep. We will get the results back quickly or use them to go into court. 

Followup says people tested yesterday were told it would be five days to get results.

Answer: No, results should be within 48 hours.

Question: Physical dimensions not changing for five day instruction. What is the union's position?

Answer: 50 point UFT safety checklist is the standard. Mayor said 75% want in-person instruction. That was wrong but schools were programmed for 75% to come in. You know who has opted in, if you can program for the live students, do it. If  35% or below, you can try. If it can't be done safely, don't do it.

Question: Vaccinations, we will hit Tier 2. We will have to go get vaccinated or will they come to schools?

Answer: Phizer vaccine has to be kept in a controlled setting. We will guess we will have to go in and show we are DOE employees. We need a process so everyone who wants to get vaccinated can get a vaccine. City will probably send out conflicting information. 

Question: Thanks Mulgrew, no testing yet at PS 44, a school opened on Staten Island.

Answer: We know about this school. We will hopefully get folks there quick. Schools on Staten Island in orange zone but not much COVID in them. Doctors have access to our information. Politicians not doctors. PS 44 is on the list. Hopefully, they will be there tomorrow.

Question: High School CL. What is happening with high schools reopening?

Answer: Do we have the testing capacity, until we have the vaccine, to keep things safe? City does not have the capacity to test in high schools. Students need to take industry assessments. Many have hands-on components. We have had conversations at state and city level. (These are not Regents exams.)

Question: Thanks Mulgrew, Principal scheduling observations and teachers have been told they would be doing observations. What is the status of that?

Answer: There are no observations. There is no evaluation agreement. State has not waived student learning but left evaluation up to districts. Many would like to go S or U but using authentic assessment will lead to teachers being treated in a fairer way. S or U led to thousands being rated poorly because they had a fight with a principal. Let's get basic authentic assessment in for this year. We are telling our people to do that. No observations at this point. We should have APPR done by early January. We need protocols on online classrooms. Administrators saying they want access as a teacher into a classroom. They already have access as administrator. They don't know how to run their own digital platform.

Question: CL from D 25, Can we have clarification on the instructional coordination period in the morning? 

Answer: Coordination period is to work with other teachers who work with the same students. Grades could coordinate during this time. Mandated systematic meetings are a no. DR is on the call as well as Borough Rep who will be in touch with the principal and superintendent and we will take it from there. We don't understand the people who have to be power-hungry

Question: Onsite COVID testing, is there a system to show that it is random?

Answer: Some places it is getting better and others are not. Three problems with testing. Randomization, 20% and getting results back in a timely manner. Testing folks are good to work with. They don't take problems as personal attacks like most in the DOE. Getting additional people for contact tracing. Tell the DR and hopefully it will get fixed or go to court.

Question: CTLE hours for paraprofessional, will it be waived this year? CUNY having issues with financial aid.

Answer: Not waived as of yet. Regents meeting yesterday and today. You should call UFT call center and they will talk to certification people. UFT is offering a lot of CTLE online. Call Mary Vaccaro. We don't want anyone being jammed up.

Question: Countdown to July 1 retirement-Will the UFT continue Zoom information sessions after COVID? 

Answer: Much better DA meetings online. We have huge partipation online. Pension clinics and Member Assistance Program have huge numbers. Happy that numbers are what they are but we miss seeing people. Can't wait to go into a school without a mask. Looking forward to seeing kids smile. We will figure out the balance between online and in-person.

Question: Counselors at QHS must have Assistant Principal in three way or Zoom counseling sessions. No confidentiality is what AP said

Answer: Why would this lead to better results for children? There are confidentiality provisions in the DOE. We will ask the DOE if this is a mandated practice to defend it. This sounds like a power trip. The worse the idea, the more who get promoted at the DOE.

Motion Period:

First motion to commemorate World AIDS Day for next month's agenda. Mulgrew points out that it needs a majority vote to get on January's agenda. Motivator says that we can honor people impacted by AIDS in a better way. There was no speaker against it. Mulgrew tells everyone to stay safe over holidays. 92% vote yes and 8% vote no. It is on agenda.

Second motion is on mayoral control. Daniel Alicea presented it from MS 53. He wants this for next month's agenda. Says he is with Teachers of NYC. We need to end mayoral control as we know it. We need checks and balances. We need our union of educators to lead all stakeholders including parents, students and other community stakeholders. Growing call in our union that we need to limit mayoral control and not just cosmetic changes. It's personal. Data changed since we last discussed this issue in 2013. We need to use our power as the most powerful union in the city to step up. After two decades of mayoral dictatorship, we need to turn things up down. Revisit 2013 recommendations, endorsements can't come cheap and must be tied to candidates who want fundamental change in school governance, create an action plan with stakeholders to pressure Albany. Mulgrew asks for a speaker against. Nobody came forward to speak against. 81% voted yes and 19% voted no.

Special Orders of Business

Motion for UFT to stand for transgender rights. Protecting transgender folks. Nobody spoke against it. 95% yes and 5% no.

UFT honoring Latin American educators. Servia Silva motivated it. 40% of the students are Latinos or Latinx but only 7% of the teachers are. Nobody spoke against it. It carried with 95% yes and 5% no. 

 Time ran out. Mulgrew said Petrides results on Staten Island is now online. Take some time over the holiday but we need to keep the children safe. Thanks Delegates and CL's says God has blessed you. Says God bless and be safe. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020


This is from Chalkbeat NY:

Mayor Bill de Blasio warned on Tuesday that New York City may need a stricter set of restrictions to fight a surge of coronavirus cases shortly after Christmas. He called for an important exception: school buildings.

“Right now we’re seeing extraordinary success in keeping our schools safe,” the mayor said. “I want to keep them open.”

The teachers union — which supported the mayor’s move last week to reopen roughly 850 campuses serving elementary school students and those with the most significant disabilities — cast doubt on that approach.

“If the coronavirus infection rate rises to the point that a citywide ‘shelter in place’ is necessary, keeping school buildings open would be irresponsible,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement.

The strongest word Mulgrew would use is irresponsible. How about dangerous or even deadly?

Schools spread coronavirus. As Austrian professor of microbiology Michael Wagner from the University of Vienna said recently, "Schools are not islands of serenity." Leaving them open is "a significant risk."

As for the advice here: Stay out of any school building you believe is unsafe. Your health is more important than your job. Worry about the job consequences later. 

Monday, December 14, 2020


This Daily News story deeply troubled me.

A Brooklyn principal is under investigation for allegedly instructing roughly 150 teens and adults to eat lunch together in the cafeteria rather than their individual classrooms, flouting school COVID safety guidance and potentially putting students and staff at risk, The Daily News has learned.

Dozens of staff and students Thursday morning crowded into the school cafeteria at the Connie Lekas School for students with complex disabilities in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, under the orders of Principal Antoinette Rose, according to staff accounts and photos — contrary to Education Department guidance instructing schools to serve meals in classrooms whenever possible.

The quarters were too tight to maintain 6 feet of distance, staffers say, and students — some of whom have medical and respiratory conditions that put them at higher risk from the virus — were mostly maskless in order to eat, staffers say.

“A lot of them [the students] are medically fragile, a lot of them have asthma, have respiratory problems that would cause them to be high risk, and they were put in a very risky situation,” said one staffer who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

There wasn’t enough space to socially distance,” said Ilyana Frias, an Education Department paraprofessional and union representative for the school, who said she received a flood of angry calls from staffers after the lunch debacle.

The principal's motivation was that she wanted to serve a hot meal to the kids which is only available in a cafeteria but without social distancing, this was not legally possible. What I really can't comprehend is the teachers who complied with the principal's directive. They knew they were putting the health and safety of themselves and the students at risk and complied with her directive anyway. The principal wasn't even there. Back to the Daily News:

Adding to the outrage of some staffers: Rose works remotely, and the principal didn’t have to bear the risk of her decision, staffers say.

She wasn't in the building and people still wouldn't defy her orders.

Further down:

As soon as school officials announced the plan Thursday morning to hold a group lunch in the cafeteria, staffers — who were accustomed to serving lunch in their individual classrooms — were skeptical.

“I was shocked when I heard there was going to be lunch in the cafeteria,” said one staffer.

“And then when I was in the cafeteria it was even more shocking,” the staffer added.

Teachers were initially told to seat students at every other table. But as kids and staff began flooding in, it became clear there wasn’t enough room, the staffer said.

“As everyone started pouring in it was pretty obvious there was not enough space to skip tables,” the employee recalled. “There wasn’t a lot of social distancing happening. A lot of the students weren’t wearing masks” because they were eating, the staffer added.

The follow-up question that I have to ask:

Why the hell didn't you just leave that cafeteria immediately and take your students with you when you saw it was crowded?

Are teachers that beaten down by the DOE-UFT that they will just listen to a principal no matter what and put their own health and the health of their students at risk? Screaming later is not good enough. 

Mulgrew did respond after the fact:

"This principal should be removed,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.

“The health and safety protocols that need to be followed are crystal clear. This should have never happened.”

I will say again: If you don't feel a situation is safe in a building for you and/or your students, get the hell out of there immediately and worry about any consequences to your career later. Your health comes before your job and so does the health of the students.

I will make the point again not to go in if you don't feel a building is safe. Kids do spread COVID-19. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020


 From parent activist Leonie Haimson:

2. Tonight, Sunday Dec. 13 at 8 PM, I along with others will be speaking about the history of Mayoral control and how it needs to be changed, at an online forum called Reimagining Education, hosted by Teachers of New York City. You can register here: On Thursday, Dec. 17, I will also be testifying at Assembly hearings on Mayoral control that begin at 10 AM, livestreamed here. The state law that renewed Mayoral control lapses in June 2022, and it’s time to start thinking seriously about how checks and balances and more parent and community input should be added, to strengthen what is now a basically autocratic system.

3. There seems to be more energy and focus on improving the school governance system now than in years past, in part because of widespread dissatisfaction with the erratic way Mayor de Blasio has handled planning for school shutdowns and reopenings during the Covid pandemic.

Saturday, December 12, 2020


Please read this piece in the German publication Der Spiegel and show it to anyone who says children don't spread coronavirus.

The intro:

If you've ever heard teenagers chattering away and laughing during the breaks, or seen them crowd into a supermarket; if you've ever experienced the chaotic running and roughhousing of schoolchildren at recess – you might be surprised that things have gone so comparatively well at schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

As recently as the end of October, the science journal Nature published a data survey that came to an apparently reassuring conclusion: "Data gathered worldwide are increasingly suggesting that schools are not hot spots for coronavirus infections," and further, that schools could "reopen safely when community transmission is low."

That, though, has since changed.

Such "community transmission" has become quite high in many parts of Germany and the effect of the current "lockdown light" has been disappointingly minimal. Case numbers have stagnated at a high level, while in some regions they have continued climbing at an alarming rate. What are the reasons? Where are people contracting the infections? Is transmission only occurring in shops, which have remained open this fall in contrast to the spring lockdown? Or is transmission actually transpiring in schools, after all?

Because of the persistently high number of cases, the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has this week called for a strict lockdown before Christmas – including the closure of schools as quickly as possible. Chancellor Angela Merkel likewise pleaded with the state governors to send children into the Christmas break early and extend the holidays.

From the perspective of epidemiologists, that would, indeed, be a sensible move. Evidence is provided by a still unpublished analysis of a widespread testing campaign at schools in Austria, which found that SARS-CoV-2 affects just as many students as teachers.

Schools are not islands of serenity," says study leader Michael Wagner, a professor of microbiology at the University of Vienna. Leaving them open is "a significant risk."

I say it's about time science is catching up to reality. We all saw what happened in the spring where NYC lost over 75 school employees from COVID-19 in part because schools stayed open too long.  We only haven't seen a repeat thus far in the fall in New York in my non-scientific opinion because the overwhelming majority of parents have wisely ignored officials and some scientists and kept their kids out of school buildings.

The Spiegel piece provides a great amount of evidence from throughout Europe and North America to support their view that  young kids do indeed spread COVID-19 at school.

Their conclusion:

"Of course, it’s the case that the virus is carried into schools," says RKI head Lothar Wieler. "And that it is then carried back out again."

In England, the incidence rate fell after the fall break. And Scottish researchers analyzed all anti-corona measures in 131 countries in a large modelling study. The R number, one way to measure the spread of infections, began falling once large events were banned and contacts were limited.

But they only plunged significantly once schools were closed.

To which I say, Duh!


Chicago Public Schools have been fully remote all year. The mayor wants to unilaterally reopen the buildings while COVID-19 continues out of control. The Chicago Teachers Union isn't having any of it. They are demanding some of what NYC's UFT already has in terms of safety protocols but they are going two steps further. They want the COVID-19 positivity rate to be under 3% before they open and they are willing to put up a real fight to achieve their goals. They are going to protest in a safe way with a car caravan today.

Meanwhile in NYC, COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the city, including in schools, and the UFT does very little.

The latest seven-day average positivity rate for NYC is 6.26%

Even Governor Andrew Cuomo says school employees are the fourth biggest source of spreading COVID-19 according to contact tracing. Education employees are ahead of indoor dining which is closing but schools are not. Go figure. This chart is from the Albany Times Union. 
 of new cases
At-home gatherings
Healthcare settings
College students
Education employees
Restaurants and bars
Note: The contact tracing data for 46,000 cases represents only about 20 percent of the total cases in New York between September and November. The other 80 percent of people infected did not know, or would not disclose, their source of infection.

Contact tracing isn't exactly working if it is only tracing 20% of cases. I think reasonable people will conclude that COVID-19 is out of control again in NY.

What about our Union? The UFT is advising this for the winter:
Remember to dress in layers and bring additional warm clothes for yourself. Be sure to also remind students and their parents about the importance of dressing warmly for school.

How many times have we written here how we need a real union that will fight for us in NYC and not the one we have led by Unity/Michael Mulgrew? Change will not come from the top but has to come from below. 

I am actually getting more and more depressed about how so many UFTers just keep going into buildings. They can't all be science deniers.

That leads me to the election. The right-wingers here wanted us to wait for the legal process to play out before they would accept that Joe Biden won the presidency. Was yesterday's Supreme Court ruling enough for you or do you keep up the massive fraud nonsense? Trump lost the national vote by over 7 million votes and was behind by at least 10,000 in every state he lost.

Is the language below from the conservative Supreme Court where Trump appointed three of the justices sufficient to let us move on or are they in on the conspiracy too?

The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution. Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.

Thursday, December 10, 2020


 From NJ Patch:

NEW JERSEY — New Jersey had its biggest jump in school coronavirus outbreaks and cases this past week as a new report says the COVID-19 risk keeps rising for teachers and students.

New Jersey had 18 new in-school outbreaks and 103 new cases linked to those outbreaks this past week — a sharp increase over the previous week's totals when four outbreaks and 16 new cases were reported, Gov. Phil Murphy said this week (see county-by-county list below).

Overall, New Jersey schools have had 88 in school outbreaks and 388 cases linked to in-school outbreaks since the school year began.

Plenty of COVVID-19 in NYC schools too. I just don't understand the policy of keeping school buildings open.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020


 We are hearing from teachers in multiple schools for the first time in the COVID-19 era complaining about administrators starting to act in a pre-pandemic abusive way. Before the last week or so, it was rather rare since March for our blog at least to hear about a principal or assistant principal acting in a tyrannical way. We can no longer say that. Crazy letters sent to teachers are again being forwarded our way and we are hearing about ridiculous observations.

The multiple "nonevaluative" remote observations that include post-observation conferences from administrators, some of whom have never taught a remote class in their lives, is concerning enough. But hearing how teachers are receiving one or two "glows" and multiple "grows" (areas in need of improvement), is very disturbing. This is particularly worrisome because it is conscientious teachers who are concerned about these nonevaluative observations and these teachers already have enough to be concerned about while teaching in a pandemic. 

A couple of points to keep in mind:

1-There is no evaluation agreement between the UFT and DOE currently so these observations cannot be placed in any personnel file and they shouldn't carry a rating.

2-Teachers are telling me that they are worried that these observations are being used as a set-up and that they will be referred to once the DOE and UFT agree to an evaluation system. Respond to emails if necessary. Keep a record but don't be overly concerned. It's a pandemic. It's more concerning that school buildings are open, teachers are getting infected and passing away. We can keep it all in perspective.

We think teachers should not be intimidated. Call your chapter leader and district rep and file operational complaints if this continues. A supervisor visiting a Meet for a few minutes to see what's going is acceptable but full-scale observations where every communication a teacher has with a student is scrutinized seems more like harassment. 

By the way, when will the grievance process start again UFT?

We would recommend that because of the many oversize remote classes, every administrator from the Chancellor on down to principals and assistant principals to UFT officials should contribute by teaching remote classes every day. It helps with two issues as it could reduce class sizes a little and the administrators who are mainly not experienced in remote instruction might learn a little about it and may have some empathy with classroom teachers, most of whom are working their butts off trying to make remote learning succeed.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020


 I am so glad I am in a union that takes what is in writing seriously. (Sarcasm alert)

The UFT agreed in the middle of October that the DOE would pay half of the retroactive money they owe us for work we did from 2009-11 by no later than October 31, 2020. I got my regular payment in the second half of November and the per session retro came in December. 

As I stated in an earlier posting, for me the late payments are not that big a deal, especially when compared to what others are suffering through, but it shows how totally weak the UFT is when they cannot even compel the City-DOE to keep their word on the date they promise to make a payment by. 

If you pay your parking tickets late, how much interest does the city charge?

Monday, December 07, 2020


The insanity just gets more out of control. This is from the NYC Educator Executive Board minutes. This except is on President Michael Mulgrew's President's Report:

Mulgrew--About 42K (tests) per week is 20%. Can they get to every school? 9% citywide is number where everything shuts down. Will depend on behavior. Vaccine push--NY state will not mandate vaccination. Will run aggressive ed. campaign. AFT and NEA want teachers in cohort 1B so we can have access. 

I am not sure if the 5% in individual zip codes still gets those buildings within the area closed.

In the question period:

%  Covid for citywide shutdown--Now based on area. We will get in fight with mayor. State number is 9. That's for complete shutdown. Business community wants things open. Spread is troubling. CA just went into major lockdown. You will see constant closures. We will close schools every day. We closed 400 with monthly. Weekly will be more. State will have new round of orange and red zones. 

% of Covid for zip code--School shuts down with 2 non linked cases.

From a school:

And another on twitter:

How many more have to become infected before this stops? I am no scientist but it seems obvious to this layman that having more people congregate in a building can lead to a greater spread of an airborne virus.

I didn't get the picture below from someone inside a school sneaking out a photo. This is on NYC's twitter. Am I missing something? Even though the picture is from behind, it looks like the kids are not wearing masks. Also, I wonder what the temperature is in those schools. OSHA mandates 68°. 

Mulgrew said zero tolerance. No school entry without the consent form. Were students being turned away who didn't have the consent form on testing signed by a parent?

Finally tonight, we do have parental support that we all should be grateful for. An ICEUFT shout out to Naomi Pena.


Teachers of NYC are a group to watch. They are holding a Zoom event on Sunday evening on ending mayoral control of NYC schools. Note that Mike Schirtzer, the one UFT Executive Board member not afraid to ask tough questions to UFT President Mulgrew, will be on the panel as will Class Size Matters' Director Leonie Haimson. 

I will be attending and so should you if you are able.


We put out Personnel Memorandum No.2 in September, and we will do it again for the December 7 return to in-person elementary school (see below). I hope this December 7 will not be another day of infamy. Please stay safe elementary school UFTers and only enter a building if you feel it is safe.

We wrote about your contractual right to a safe work environment back in March. You can disobey supervisor orders if your health or the safety of others is being put in jeopardy. 

5.12% is the latest 7 day average COVID-19 positivity rate for NYC. The chart below is from the city's COVID-19 page. Cases, hospitalizations, and confirmed deaths are all rising. They closed schools at 3% positivity rate and they are reopening some at 5.12%. In my humble non-scientific opinion, we should be hunkering down and not reopening any school buildings except to distribute food and take care of children of first responders who need child care. 


 UFTers, please read this official DOE document very closely and follow its guidelines.