When I was put on, which was toward the end of President Mulgrew's report, Mulgrew was talking about preparing for remote learning or blended learning. He said there would have to be childcare whether buildings were opened or not. This is not about just children, it is about us. We will continue to be responsible. We will have to call the question by the end of August or the beginning of September. We have to see if there is a plan and if it will work.
Question: Medical accommodation, if you have any of the conditions, can it be denied? Will you still be attached to your school if working fully remote?
Mulgrew Answer: If you have a medical accommodation, you stay on the Table of Organization of your school. DOE has not said no to anyone with documentation. No excessing if you have accommodation.
Question: What progress has been made in hiring school nurses?
Answer: There has to be a nurse in every school. We are not moving off that position. Thank you to the nurses. City Council said there will be a nurse in every school. Two different titles, DOE only hires at the lower pay level.
Question about contact tracing?
Answer: School system should have our own contact tracers. One of the doctors is a special ed teacher in NYC. His recommendation is if anyone tests positive in a school, we have to do contact tracing quickly. If the infection rate remains low and we use proper PPE, we should be okay.
Question: Principal said kids don't need to wear masks as long as they are seated in class?
Answer: In NYC it is pretty clear but if kid has disability and can't wear a mask, then we would have to adjust the PPE for the teachers and whoever was working with that child. Tell principal we work for DOE and not the State Ed Department.
Question: Buyouts, what's going to happen?
Answer: We are negotiating at the MLC (umbrella group of city government employee unions) level. We won't have anything until we see what the federal government will do. City and state budgets have been decimated. State about $16 billion in the red. City is about $9 billion in the red. Mayor threatened 22,000 layoffs. If he lays people off, he can not open school buildings.
Question: What are the class sizes? Will each teacher be responsible for a kid's live and remote instruction?
Answer: If you have 30 kids, that becomes three classes. Reporting to building every day to teach three cohorts. Schools have to input curriculum and scope and sequence. In middle or high school or specialty area, a teacher can get a mix of a class or two of in-school instruction and still do remote learning.
Question: Teachers that live in Nassau or Suffolk and need childcare for their own kids? Teacher teaching in school teaching cohort A and B?
Answer: Curriculum and scope and sequence have to be allied so when your cohort is on remote, the remote teacher can take over. If you are teaching elements of a story with A, then remote has to be teaching elements of a story too. We should have been working on this for months. This is why things will get bogged down.
Question: If I was to get Covid, will that impact my CAR? Will I come back to live or remote?
Answer: Test positive for Covid, CAR not impacted. If after a time from 14-28 days, you need negative tests to return to school.
Question: If I have no air conditioning, how can I wear a mask and how can kids?
Answer: Yes on mask. Airflow is the key. Windows need to be open. If airflow is not enough, we won't use rooms such as inner rooms in certain buildings that don't have windows. Old buildings should be okay for airflow.
Question: Who is responsible for checking medical conditions at school? Students have the ability to opt-out and go remote as year goes by, will teachers have the same option?
Each building has a building response team. We want the school to form a team. Mulgrew will come remotely or in person if help is needed. Safety cannot be broken down. Isolation rooms, teachers volunteered in certain schools. Due to lack of leadership, there was a problem in certain other schools. Building Response Team will be in charge of this and tailoring the safety to guidelines. We have had good conversations with DOE and CSA about this.
Two options: With a medical accommodation, you work from home. We streamlined the process for medical accommodations with DOE. Besides that, you have to take an unpaid leave if we open buildings.
Question: Small talk about baseball. DOE says schools will be ready. If they aren't, what happens?
Answer: We are preparing to do whatever we have to do if the schools are not safe and the city disagrees with us.
Question: Getting the Covid-19 test today, wait two weeks for results. How can that be expedited? What can UFT do about this as a union? Went to City MD.
Answer: Because of what we went through, it depends on the institution that you go to. If it goes to a national lab, it will take two weeks. Need to go to a place so test goes to a local lab. One lab says they can test everyone within a ten-day period and have results back before school starts. Nationally, capacity is not there and it will take fourteen days. We need results faster.
Question: Remote teaching and people in their subject area for middle schools. Can they require me to teach what I am not licensed for (performing arts teacher)?
Answer: Performing arts teachers did amazing work to figure out remote type of performing arts teaching. It is important that students need the arts to be creative. They should teach in the licensed subject area.
Question: Are we going to be expected to do a year-long curriculum and be held accountable for that?
Answer: We need curriculum and scope and sequence. There will be a system in place where we can intervene right away. Better to go deeper than broader.
Question: Kids who can't wear masks, do parents need documentation?
Answer: It must be a disability or medical condition. 75% of parents want to send their kids back to school. 25% yes go back, 25% say no don't go back until there is a safe and effective vaccine, 50% in middle want their kids back but only if it is safe and their questions are addressed.
Question: Lump sum payment status?
Answer: No reason to touch it now. Concerns about our raise, we received it. If the Heroes Act doesn't come through, I don't see how we get through the next two or three years without layoffs. When we see what the Heroes Act has, we can plan better. A vaccine won't end this. Many switching to remote permanently for this year. Let's see what happens with the Heroes Act.
Question: What about District 75 teachers who deal with students who need diaper changes?
Answer: PPE will be different in D75 settings as compared to most classrooms. We need to see a plan put in front of us. Nurses, school based and those who work in hospitals, showing how to use PPE properly. If we get back to any in-school teaching, we have to train as if we are in a hospital setting.
Question: Teacher works in a D75 school, how will people who work in an office be protected?
Answer: Get masks and plexiglass. Airflow has to be proper also.
Question: Parents who need to go to work will send kids to school with fevers and they give them a little Tylenol? Spring break pay?
Answer: Every school will have a nurse. Spring break days: Three unions involved are going to arbitration for full pay for the 7 days.
Question: 33 year Phys Ed teacher in a shared building. No windows and teaches 30-40 per class. What are the protocols?
Answer: Need to look at ventilation protocols. Must be social distancing. Lots of calisthenics. Combine phys ed between different schools in the same building. Look for solutions.
Question: How long do I put in the accommodation for?
Answer: For as long as the medical crisis lasts.
Question: Chancellor gave vague answers on cleaning?
Answer: We put our masks on and meet with School Construction Authority people and School Facilities people. They have been smart about buying what is needed. Need cleaning protocols in place. In March, they said they would deep clean every evening and they lied. Now, Building Response Team must make sure things are done immediately. At this point, School Facilities agree that after a phone call, things will get fixed. If not, a question on whether a school will open.
Question: Deadline is July 31 for accommodation, what if you find out if you are pregnant. Can you put in after July 31?
Answer: July 31 is to fast track accommodation. Can file for the accommodation at any point. Call the UFT and we will tell DOE why something is happening. Certainly, if you find out you are pregnant on August 5, you can apply for an accommodation then.
Question: Have my own kids. What do we do?
Answer: We have issues with the way the Department of Health and mayor handled this in March. Many of us are taking care of other family members. We don't know how this will go when it comes to crunch time. Let us know and we will see what we can do to help you.
Question: Remote vs classroom teacher. Where are these remote teachers supposed to be coming from?
Answer: Average class size was 28 last year. Average class size this year will be about 12. We are short teachers. Chancellor telling people who have teaching licenses and work for DOE will be teaching. We do not have the capacity to meet the need. If Heroes Act comes through, DOE could hire more teachers.
Question: Scheduling four periods a day?
Answer: Block scheduling approach to do four periods and lunch. Teacher A comes in with four periods on Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the day for the teacher is lunch and coordination with a remote instructor. Certain schools are doing that now. Due to the challenges we are facing, we have to look at scheduling different models. Recreating the old school day is not the most efficient or effective way to deal with the instructional program during this coronavirus time.
Answer: We haven't even talked about that yet. Eval cannot be reliant on a MOSL.
Question: I teach Regents courses, limited to seeing these kids a couple of times a week. How is that a viable option?
Answer: We are talking to Regents about standardized tests. You need to have a remote teacher to partner with. You both have to be on the same page. This is about safety. Parents want safety too. We are not in a perfect world now. We don't have answers for every question.
Question: How are we supporting parents with remote learning? Can individual schools have full remote?
Answer: We have had so many issues where we work alongside parents. If school is reopening, a very big if with all the challenges we have, a school can't be fully remote but there is a real possibility of us being fully remote anyway. We made some progress. We still have more to go. Some safety questions have been answered. We will need to talk again.
Your questions guide our work. We are working with the schools that know how to do this stuff. This journey, March 14, the mayor announced he was closing schools and we jumped for joy. It was originally for two weeks and the virus kept beating on us. We lost so many colleagues but we continued. We were the full support for many parents and families. We kept extending and we got through the school year. Challenge for us is moving forward but nobody knows at this moment; right now I would say no. Thanks people for being on the call. There will be a couple of more of these virtual town halls. Good for us to talk to each other. Take a deep breath and we will face challenges together.