Michael Mulgrew Report:
We are not ready to open the schools in NYC now. Spoke to mayor. Follow original CDC guidelines. We don't have what the mayor already agreed to. Mayor picked a timeline for principals to schedule schools. Send schedules if you have one from principal to DR. Schedules were not fully agreed on. We have to have everything in place to open safely. Nobody is teaching six periods. Nobody will be teaching five in a row. Many challenges are driven by the Mayor and his actions at this point. Challenges since March. We need medical accommodations. They are starting to be granted which is good. In April, we told Mayor that to open the schools safety in September, have to start preparing in April. Ignored by Mayor in April, May and June. He started in July. We're not going to allow our schools to open if they are not safe. Working closely with CSA. We don't want the Mayor to blame Principals and Teachers. CSA had letter and we followed up. We don't believe schools can open on September 10. Mayor put on a show in one school. We called that out to the press.
We will keep pushing at Mayor. He has to do everything that was agreed upon. If the schools aren't safe, we are not going to open them. We are not going to allow people to be put in harm's way again. NYC infection rate is at 1%. Look at the daily infection rate. It is below 3% in all neighborhoods and below 1% in most neighborhoods. Parents are our allies. Doing everything to stand with them. Families have to decide whether to send their child to school or some risk being homeless if they don't work. Can I stay home and put our family at risk?
Difficult dilemma. Do we go in and not be safe or if we don't go in, are we putting our ability to take care of our families at risk? Do everything to make it safe. Mayor has to be held accountable. Mayor has time to put things in place to make it safe. We have over 100 trained staff who know how to do a school visit for COVID-19. Some schools will not be ready. Checking for a number of things. We will take appropriate action if the city tries to open those schools up. We have to be smart and diligent. We have to push the city to make sure schools are actually safe. I don't believe schools will be ready to be opened on September 10. We have to show the evidence. Betting on us and not on them.
Facing really tough problems. The federal government has fallen apart on stimulus package. Without stimulus money, we don't believe city has money for protective equipment. Problem is layoffs are on the table. We don't want any of you to face layoff. Safety and taking care of your livelihood. It's not hopeless. Unions will have to work together in Albany to stop city from layoffs. We have time through the end of October. That is just as important as the safety issue. We work in NYC school system, it is never just one problem at a time. We have to communicate and stick together. What we see every day on the TV is insane. National union is in court to stop what is going on in Florida. 2,000 in quarantine. Georgia has 3,000 in quarantine. Look at facts in NYC. If we don't feel safe, we won't open. We will break the Taylor Law if we have to. Illegal for job action in NY. We will go to court first. Must reach a clear and present danger in NYC in every school. We will make a decision as a union together. People who participate in a job action can be terminated or disciplined. Lose two days from sick bank for every day. Mulgrew would go to jail. We all have to make the decision that if it isn't safe, we won't go to work. Our medical professionals are telling us the infection rate is where we can attempt to open school but we don't have an agreed-upon safety protocol. We don't believe we are going to be ready. If we do the testing and tracing, have the PPE and do the social distancing, then doctors say we can pull it off. It comes down to Mayor and DOE. Mayor says we have a lot of time. We say it's a short time.
Mayor announced today there will be a nurse in every school. How can we serve lunch in the classroom if we can't go to a restaurant? If kids face forward and the teacher sits in the back of the room, it would be safe. Facing two great challenges: safety and livelihood. Facing layoffs. Feeling distressed. All dealing with fear and craziness. We have a path and plan. When it is the appropriate time to make decisions, we will. We need to take care of each other. We went through more than any other school system in the USA. We might not be able to say that for much longer. Parents will listen to teachers, counselors or secretaries they trust. There is a lot of anger, fear and anxiety out there. Guarantee that decisions are made from independent doctors on safety. On layoffs, we got through last recession without layoffs, only large system, we will get through again.
Question: Haven't received word yet on accommodation but those who have received accommodations have it through December 31?
Mulgrew Answer: DOE lawyers want people to reapply. Will ask DOE if they want everyone to reapply again? Will have discussion with them.
Question: Will remote teachers with accommodation have to teach more than regular class? Live instruction?
Answer: Close to 30% of students are fully remote but only 15% of the teachers are remote. Will be streaming live. Working out details now. Dealing with a teaching shortage when there are layoffs being threatened. Schools can't have enough teachers. Class size would be 12. We can't staff in school students. For remote, class sizes from contract will be followed.
Question: Ventilation: How is information about ventilation being shown and how is it being given out to all?
Answer: Higher bar for ventilation than before Covid. Some schools have major issues. Some schools will not be open. We will stand in front of them and say they are not safe. We have a right by NYS law to go in and test schools. HVAC systems aren't needed to have proper ventilation. Most older schools don't have HVAC systems but have windows that open. Best ventilation system is to have ventilation blowing from outside. Need outside air coming in. Have agreed upon criteria and right to see reports. Do not be surprised if a number of school buildings cannot be used unless city can replace entire airflow system in three weeks.
Question: Mayor announced that by October 1, 22,000 possible layoffs.
Answer: We are impacted. No tourists on Broadway. Restaurants, bars and other establishments not paying taxes. $6 billion deficit in NYC and $16 billion in state. I don't want people losing their jobs.
Question: How can we prevent kids from not turning around, not taking masks off and not sitting on top of each other?
Answer: We will train them. Hormones raging with middle school students. First couple of days are all about training the kids. Kids who can't follow safety procedures are going to have to go home for fully remote instruction. Our nurses from the hospitals will do the training for all of us. DOE happy to have our nurses do the training. We might have counselors and others needing face shields and other full PPE equipment. Everyone may need a shield.
Question: Thanks Mulgrew for his work and he thanks her. When we call parents to pick up sick children, they don't show up. What do we do when parents are called for kids not following rules and parent doesn't show up?
Answer: DOE agrees with us kids must conform. Child not wearing mask has to be put in SAVE or Isolation room. Will need the SAVE room for kids being problematic in terms of safety. DOE will have to tell parent that this child has to go full remote. Chancellor has made an announcement that those with teaching certificates in offices can be redeployed for teaching assignments. We want it to be a central DOE problem.
Question: Thanks Mulgrew. Can we have a buyout to mitigate layoffs?
Answer: We have absolutely requested a buyout through Municipal Labor Committee. We have legislation in Albany. Talks are progressing. We need other avenue of funding from Albany. City will ask for givebacks. Try to finalize a good buyout. Retiree trustees say numbers are fine for the pension system. It requires city, State Assembly, State Senate and Governor to use buyout to fund more teachers.
Question: Blended learning, the live teacher will not do remote. Full remote teachers, principal planting seeds that he may have to bridge classes. Combine two classes, third and second grade, in same class. Is there anything in writing?
Answer: Bridge classes that is not something we are looking to entertain. Issue is it's not March or April. We need time to plan for synchronous instruction. Have to be responsible for a class and that means a regular class size. Principals being pushed to have teachers live stream. What we learned from March to June is that just teaching and live streaming a lesson is not very effective. On camera dealing with class and remote won't work. Teacher in a classroom will teach five days a week. Teacher will have fully remote day. Teachers teaching a few days a week in school have some remote too. Teachers taping lessons was extremely effective. When principals said teachers had to live stream every day, we said no, no, no. Principals must adhere to contracts. Can't live stream unless a teacher says it's okay.
Question: Denied accommodation because there was no diagnosis listed but it is at the bottom of letter. Has a new letter from doctor. HR says they are getting many phone calls. What to do?
Answer: UFT will have form by tomorrow or email MSill@uft.org. They used to take months to process a small number of medical accommodations. Doctor must substantiate that you have one of the underlying conditions that puts you at greater risk of COVID-19.
Question: Very concerned about instructional lunchtime. Speech therapist concerned about how particles move from your mouth. Facing the other way. Can I decline if asked to teach during lunch?
Answer: Possibility with mask that someone could get sick from eyeballs. People eating will get shields. People have a right to make their own personal decisions. If we open, the lunch thing has me most concerned. Concerned if we move kids around to serve lunch. Keeping them in the classroom and having someone in there makes it instructional time and that will be the fastest school day. C6, duty-free lunch and prep at the end of the day means you can leave during prep time. Will get an answer to shield question. Eating in the classroom bothering me the most.
Question: Thank you for doing this. For clusters, how many cohorts can we contact with for a week? Art teacher. Principals said clusters teach remote and instructional lunch.
Answer: We are not disagreeing with instructional lunch. Fastest way for the kids to spend a minimum time in the classroom. Working through the cluster issues now. Mayor says kids will be in a pod. Mulgrew gets angry with mayor at this. Art teacher has hands-on stuff. How do we make sure the teacher has access to ionizer that will kill COVID like Lysol, just don't digest it. It is possible to be remote and in person. If you have three classes in a high school, you could get two remote classes.
Question: Will I have double work as a teacher? I am a teacher going to school.
Answer: Responsibility will be work you do in school but can have a remote class or two.
Question: What about CAR days if I have to quarantine?
Answer: If it is something from school, it doesn't come out of CAR.
Question: How can we assist our own children if the schedule doesn't align with our work schedule?
Answer: We always worked to accommodate our staff when I was a chapter leader. Mayor announced a couple of weeks ago that essential workers should have access to childcare. Waiting for mayor to give details of program. Must ratchet up that line of questioning to the mayor.
Question: Thank you for doing town halls. Early childhood social workers. Travel to different early childhood programs. Is it safe to travel to different programs? We support social-emotional learning. Do they want us to go? Is it safe?
Answer: As an itinerant, DOE wants to limit the number of sites. Make sure there is enough hand sanitizers for you. They want to minimize sites you go into. Moves contact tracing if someone is in too many schools if there is a positive test.
Question: Told in the spring that we have to get compensated for spring break. If we are so ready, where is the calendar for the 2020-2021 school year? Concern that they will give us calendar will go out after start of school year and take away vacations. I worked harder last year than ever before. No bell at home.
Answer: I don't believe we're going to be ready at this moment. Mayor made a mistake. DOE petrified they will have to change calendar. Dates are dates. State Ed Department counting remote and in-person as days. The DOE is paranoid. The positive rate in spring was over 20%. Governor did the right thing in the spring. That is what it's like in certain states where they are opening. We have everything online. We don't trust them either.
Question: Already granted a medical accommodation. What about people who live with at risk people?
Answer: Large number want remote instruction. More crazy stories from Georgia and places like that will get people to stay home. We thought 20-25% of teachers would apply for accommodations. Only 15% did. Trying to get accommodations for people who live with at risk relatives. Difficult to travel but we are in better shape than other states.
Question: Student-teacher ratio?
Answer: Try to adhere to IEP's at all times. The same goes for ICT classes. NYC has never been in compliance with ICT classes. Trying to get there. Principals can't say we're splitting class.
Question: Paraprofessionals who are remote?
Answer: If student is remote and has para assigned to him/her, we are trying to figure that out. Making sure nobody loses their job. What paras did during the shutdown finding so many students. Thanks, paraprofessionals.
Question: CAR days and self-quarantine: What if you are exposed to someone who has Covid? What if I don't feel well?
Answer: If quarantine is due to COVID, CAR days are not affected. If not feeling well and taking a sick day that you wouldn't have taken in the past, that will come out of your CAR days. In GA, it's called a quarantine leave. It comes out of sick bank and if sick bank is done, person doesn't get paid. We think they have to start filing lawsuits.
Question: District 75, possibility of face shields for everyone? Students who have sensory issues or are severely autistic, we might not be able to help kids keep these on.
Answer: No discussions with DOE about D75 except on scheduling. Have talked to medical professionals. In terms of what doctors have told us, it's more expensive PPEs. Understand these kids are in need of being in school. One doctor we work with is a top infectious disease specialist whose child is a special ed teacher in NYC and understands what we need. No cookie cutter for D75. We have a complete package to put on the table for next week.
Question: Teacher evaluations. How is that going to look for us this year?
Answer: Don't know. Obviously, we can't do a MOSL. Trying to figure out if we can open, we cannot follow current evaluation system in law and contract. Figure out safety and scheduling first, and then go to evaluation.
Question: Thanks Mulgrew. Number of children going remote, people are concerned with children schedules if kids are going in and out. Concerned about schedules?
Answer: The principal has to pick a program. Usually, do an initial program in June. They can't even do their initial programs. We're in this together. Kids can't opt-in until Thanksgiving. We can't have people coming in and out of buildings. Uncertainty causing a fear problem. Schools aren't safe to open. 25% chance of them being ready for September 10. We get the nurses we have been trying to get for 20 years. It's going to get uglier.
Question: Thanks Mulgrew, Have a family member hesitating to apply for accommodation because of tenure and not teaching kids from her school?
Answer: Huge shortage, we will not solve all of the problems. DOE doesn't want teachers servicing students from another building but it is still a possibility. We will do what we have to do on class size, We will do something to make sure nobody is denied tenure because of an accommodation.
Question: If we were to go all remote, will there be training so there is continuity? How will they determine who will teach remote from the building? Retro for October?
Answer: Every teacher, whether remote or in-person, must have coordination at the start of the school day. We have never had that before. Schools will have to change curriculum. We have to have standardized curriculum. There may be multiple teachers working with children. Must coordinate and share information. Teachers working on this project. Layoffs or retro, city will come to us. We have a plan to try to solve the problem. Why would we in the middle of this pandemic? I'm sorry, I don't think we give the city a dime. If you really want it, I'll do it. We've done way too much. It's our school system, not the mayor's. We work hard but not going to be schmucks about it. We kept the school system going, the biggest in the country. We are the ones who make it happen. We will take care of each other. We are the guardians of the NYC school system. Buckle up. God bless.
James here. Please note all questions are screened and tough ones which I know my wife and friends asked do not get through.