Wednesday, September 30, 2020

FAIL THE HEALTH SCREENING TEST IF YOU DON'T FEEL WELL ENOUGH TO DO IN-PERSON TEACHING

We put this information out there twice in the last few days but it is worth repeating for secondary school UFTers. School is opening tomorrow for in-person learning in the middle and high schools in the midst of an alarming spike in neighborhoods throughout the city that are having rising infection rates of COVID-19. It's up to you if you want to be there in person.

If you do not pass the daily health screening test, you are mandated to stay home. If it is COVID-19  symptoms, you can stay home for two weeks, even if it isn't COVID-19, without any days taken from your Cumulative Absence Reserve.

Please note you can take the days with COVID-19 symptoms that can be as simple as a runny nose causing you to lose some sense of smell. In addition, if God forbid you later come down with COVID-19, you are still covered without any loss of CAR days. (You can telework)

If the NYC positivity rate goes above 3% for a week, you won't be able to use those ten free days because the system will go all remote. Go get a telemedicine medical note if you are a worrier.

If you are waiting for Michael Mulgrew to look out for your health, you are most likely going to be waiting a while. When Mulgrew talks these days, I usually shake my head or scream out loud in disgust.

I put out the theory on Saturday that many UFTers have been beaten down so much by the hostile DOE and their own dues first union so they have been rendered incapable of fighting back. We termed it mass learned helplessness.  Former UFT Vice President Carmen Alvarez used to term rank and file lack of resistance to the DOE "Battered Staff Syndrome."  She of course only blamed the DOE. I feel the UFT is a big part of the problem. We need to restructure our union representation so that it serves the rank and file as its main objective, not itself.

It is a personal decision on entering school buildings. If you believe the DOE-UFT reports are legitimate and that your building is safe, then by all means go in.  If you think you have to be there for the children, they are in most cases probably safer at home. Still, we truly respect everyone's dedication whether working in person or remotely.

THAT MANDATORY STUDENT COVID-19 TESTING ISN'T SO MANDATORY ANY LONGER

 From the DOE:

Monthly testing of randomly selected staff and students is a vital part of our efforts to prevent COVID-19 transmission in our buildings, because it helps identify positive COVID-19 cases when symptoms are not present. As with other health and safety measures we are requiring to keep our staff and students safe, the success of this testing initiative relies on the partnership and cooperation of staff and students.  

While consent to testing is not mandatory, providing our testing partners with a sufficient monthly sample size to identify the prevalence of COVID-19 is critical in our ongoing fight against this virus and to ensure we can keep school communities in school buildings for in-person learning. For the safety of our school community, students who do not have consent forms on file may be required to learn remotely if we do not receive forms from enough students in the school. 

We want to assure you that if your child is selected for testing but is uncomfortable or unable to be tested, we will not test your child and will work with you to address any concerns so that they can participate in future testing. We are focused on making this a brief, and gentle experience for our students, led by trained testers.

Some reaction on Twitter:



UFT NEWS REPORTS ALL'S WELL IN D75 SCHOOLS THANKS TO UFT

 This may have been one of the best  District 75 school openings of all time according to this UFT news report because of UFT advocacy.

Some examples, first President Mulgrew:

"Your advocacy brought the many safety and staffing issues in District 75 to Mayor Bill de Blasio's attention," UFT President Michael Mulgrew wrote to the district's members on the day of the announcement of the phased-in reopening. "Now we have an unprecedented opportunity for your district to finally get the support and focus that it always should have received in our school system."

Now some chapter leaders:

"If the membership does not feel safe, education goes out the window," said Margaret Negrelli, the chapter leader at P370 in Coney Island.

Negrelli said she was happy to learn that the city was giving District 75 priority. "Now if something breaks, we're not Oliver Twist saying 'Sir, can I have some more?'" she said.

Sarina-Ann Raffa, the chapter leader at P811 in Little Neck, Queens, said the union moved quickly to address ventilation issues at her school's eight sites. "They were checking vents and filling out the right documents," she said. "They contacted the necessary people."

Lauren Chiara, the chapter leader at P721 in Pelham Bay in the Bronx, said HVAC issues were dealt with at the main site and problems with thermometers for temperature checks at her five sites were rectified with the right battery.

The clincher which the UFT put out on Twitter:

At P177 in Fresh Meadows, Queens, Chapter Leader Steven Mintzer said teamwork ultimately prevailed over differences in his chapter.

"There were a lot of heated conversations between remote and in-person teachers when we just got back," he said. "But when they started seeing the kids, all the tension drifted away. That's what we're here for. Everyone feels better with the kids back."

All's well thanks to the wonderful UFT and its support and having the children back is so great. Pandemic, what pandemic? We have our PPE. "Everyone feels better with the kids back."

No disrespect intended toward any of these UFT chapter leaders, just a few questions:

  • Is this article showing an accurate picture of the school system's reopening for in-person learning?
  • Are the stories of no nurses in schools, no PPE, severe shortages of staff, no deep cleanings, protocols not being followed after positive COVID-19 tests and very few kids showing up for in-person school just in a few schools?
  • Are people not content to return to in-person school just paranoid folks afraid of COVID-19?


NO STRIKE AT HUNTER COLLEGE CAMPUS SCHOOLS AS UNION DEMANDS ARE MET

 This is from TAPinto:

"The faculty and staff of the Hunter College Campus Schools took a brave stand for the safety of students, teachers and the community. Because of their advocacy and the support of their union, HCCS has been forced to implement a whole series of new safety protocols,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the PSC. 

She added, “That the teachers were ready to strike helped to win a commitment to regular COVID testing, a safety inspection by an independent inspector, containment of dangerous mold, and a temporary restraining order that impelled Hunter to install HEPA air filters in classrooms. None of these protections was in place until the teachers and their union fought for them. Our fight was a fight for everyone in the HCCS community."

Are all of the safety protocols being adhered to in UFT represented schools?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

NYC DAILY POSITIVITY RATE FOR COVID-19 GOES ABOVE 3% BUT UFTERS STILL BEING SENT INTO SCHOOL BUILDINGS

The NYC COVID-19 daily positivity rate is up over 3% so there is significant community spread of the coronavirus at the same time as public schools started today in NYC for elementary and K-8 school students. Maybe, that rising  number is an aberration but probably not.

This is from Gothamist:

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday said that New York City's daily testing positivity rate for COVID-19 had reached 3.25%, a jump of more than a percentage point over the previous day.

In a cruel irony, the sudden rise in the city's positivity rate comes on the first day of in-person instruction for about 300,000 children attending K-5 and K-8 schools across the city. Prior to Monday, the number of people testing positive has hovered around 1 percent for around two months.

De Blasio attributed the uptick to 9 ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens, which are home to significant numbers of Orthodox residents. While health officials have targeted outreach to those communities, the mayor has refrained from citing a specific source for the infections. He said that health officials would work to expand testing and strengthen enforcement, but that schools would in all neighborhoods continue to reopen.

But in a sign of a possible pushback from educators, Michael Mulgrew, the head of the teachers union, on Tuesday expressed concern about reopening schools in Brooklyn neighborhoods with covid clusters.

“We are very concerned with Brooklyn and those (zip) codes in Brooklyn. If we don’t see those numbers start coming down by the end of the week we are going to get much more aggressive with City Hall,” he said.

He later added: “Everything goes on the table. I know that makes people uncomfortable when we say those things but it’s a fact. We cannot, cannot allow politics to get in the way of our safety concerns at this point in time.”

At the end of July, the mayor had said that schools would not reopen if the positivity rate on a seven-day rolling average rose to 3%.

That seven day average now stands at 1.38%.

If you are waiting for Michael Mulgrew to look out for your health, you are most likely going to be waiting a while. When Mulgrew talks these days, I usually shake my head or scream out loud in disgust.

Remember, if you do not pass the daily health screening test, you are mandated to stay home. If it is COVID-19  symptoms, you can stay home for two weeks, even if it isn't COVID-19, without any days taken from your Cumulative Absence Reserve.

Please note you can take the days with COVID-19 symptoms that can be as simple as a runny nose causing you to lose some sense of smell. In addition, if God forbid you later come down with COVID-19, you are still covered without any loss of CAR days. 

If the NYC positivity rate stays where it is for a week, you won't be able to use those ten free days because the system will go all remote. Go get a telemedicine medical note if you are a worrier.

I put out the theory on Saturday that many UFTers have been beaten down so much by the hostile DOE and their own dues first union so they have been rendered incapable of fighting back. We termed it mass learned helplessness.  Former UFT Vice President Carmen Alvarez used to term rank and file lack of resistance to the DOE "Battered Staff Syndrome."  She of course only blamed the DOE. I feel the UFT is a big part of the problem. We need to restructure our union representation so that it serves the rank and file as its main objective, not itself.

It is a personal decision on entering school buildings. If you believe the DOE-UFT reports are legitimate and that your building is safe, then by all means go in.  If you think you have to be there for the children, they are in most cases probably safer at home. Still, we truly respect everyone's dedication whether working in person or remotely.

I do recommend that everybody listen to experts on the seriousness of the possible second wave of coronavirus and don't take my word for it as I am no scientist, doctor, or epidemiologist. Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb,who was on CNBC this morning, is an expert. 

As we head into the fall and winter, the conditions are right to see continued, more aggressive spread of this virus,” Gottlieb said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He urged Americans to adhere to public health measures aimed at mitigating the spread such as wearing masks and social distancing.

"Kids are back in school, kids are back in college campuses. Work is trying to restart. People are becoming more complacent and tired of the restrictions, and so all of those conditions are going to set up a fall and winter that, I think, is going to create a lot of risk,” he added. 

Gottlieb’s comments came one day after global deaths from Covid-19 topped 1 million, and one week after the U.S. eclipsed 200,000 deaths. 

Please stay safe.

Monday, September 28, 2020

NYC SCHOOLS DESPERATELY SEEKING RNs

 Last week, we touched on the school system in NYC's search for anyone with a college degree to be a substitute teacher. This ad for nurses has been around for weeks according to someone on Facebook.


I have no idea how the recruiting is going but I would like to know answers for these two questions:

●How many school buildings will be starting in person instruction without a required nurse?

●Will the buildings be closed if there is no nurse?



UNIONIZED NYC TEACHERS AT ONE CAMPUS VOTE TO AUTHORIZE A SAFETY STRIKE

Over the weekend, teachers at Hunter College Campus Schools who are represented by the Professional Staff Congress, not the UFT, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a safety strike.

The story is at Patch:

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Tuesday's planned reopening of the Hunter College Campus Schools for in-person classes was thrown further into question over the weekend as teachers voted to authorize a strike over safety concerns in the main school building, and a state judge ruled that the school could not force teachers to return unless new air filters were installed in classrooms.

Let's be very fair here. Much of what the Hunter College K-12 people are demanding the UFT has already gotten the Department of Education to agree to for the other k-12 schools in NYC such as random COVID-19 testing of students and staff and independent air testing of each classroom. However, what is being reported to me is that what the DOE agrees to and what happens in reality are two different things. 

For example, protocols after there is a positive test in a building are for immediate contact tracing and a deep cleaning of the school. When UFTers tell me about confirmed cases in their schools, they laugh when I ask if protocols are now being followed. Is the UFT threatening safety strikes chapter by chapter? No, they make a phone call and the Superintendent assures them protocols will be followed. Or, I have heard the DOE has said the COVID-19 case hasn't yet been confirmed. Are UFTers lying about positive tests?

There is little trust of the DOE, not much trust in the UFT either on this blog. 

My advice that I will repeat again:  Please don't enter a school building if you don't feel it is safe. I know it is difficult to stand up to administrators who have enormous power over your livelihood but your health is more important than anything.

For the record, PSC also demanded HEPA filters for Hunter College High School.  CUNY said they installed them. The union disagreed and went to court to make sure they were installed. PSC may not be perfect by any means, but they are acting like a real union.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

CSA NO CONFIDENCE VOTE IN CARRANZA AND DE BLASIO

The Council of Supervisors and Administrators had an emergency Executive Board meeting today. No, they did not call for fully remote learning for NYC. No, they did not say they would not show up for work on Tuesday. They did unanimously vote no confidence in Chancellor Carranza and Mayor de Blasio. CSA calls on the State Education Department to enter the school reopening process in NYC.

This is from CSA Facebook:

CSA Calls On Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza to Seek Intervention from the State Education Department

On September 27, 2020, the Executive Board of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, representing over 6,400 New York City’s school leaders, declared a unanimous vote of “No Confidence” for Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza due to their failure to lead New York City through the safe and successful reopening of schools. CSA calls on Mayor de Blasio to cede mayoral control of the Department of Education for the remainder of this health crisis and for Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza to seek the immediate intervention of the New York State Education Department.

“School leaders want school buildings reopened and have been tirelessly planning to welcome back students since the end of last school year,” said CSA President Mark Cannizzaro. “They must now look staff, parents, and children in the eye and say that they have done all they can to provide a safe and quality educational experience, but given the limited resources provided them, this is becoming increasingly difficult. During this health crisis, school leaders have lost trust and faith in Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza to support them in their immense efforts and provide them with the guidance and staffing they need. Quite simply, we believe the City and DOE need help from the State Education Department, and we hope that the mayor soon realizes why this is necessary.”

Reaction on Twitter from NY1's Jillian Jorgensen:

Principals union president Mark Cannizzaro says his members will be at schools Tuesday -- so parents, re-opening is on.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

PRINCIPALS GOING ROGUE; WHO WILL BE NEXT? NEW MOA DELAYED UNTIL OCTOBER 5

The ever-changing situation in NYC schools today took some real twists and turns. This is from Sue Edelman in the NY Post:

Tottenville High School is giving up on Mayor de Blasio’s blended learning plan, saying it will nix in-person classes and go 100% remote.

Gina Battista, principal of the 3,500-student Staten Island campus, sent a letter to parents on Saturday blaming her defiant decision on a teacher shortage.

“To execute the original plan of blended and remote learning, Tottenville High School would need an excess of additional teachers that is just not presently available,” Battista wrote.

Under her plan, however, all students will get live instruction online five days a week from Tottenville’s own faculty, she said. showing that Tottenville HS's principal sent a letter saying the school is going all remote. 

Sue's conclusion:

One DOE insider said at least a dozen other schools in the system have also gone rogue — and scheduled all remote classes.

CSA militancy? The DOE empowering administrators over the years has resulted in administrators leading this fight, not teachers. The Post has another piece on principal anger over the latest UFT-DOE Memorandum of Agreement that expands UFTers who can work remotely but continues in-person learning for some. One principal called the last-minute MOA a "programming clusterf**k.

Michael Mulgrew in his usual concessionary way decided to delay the new MOA until October 5 so everyone scheduled to work in buildings has to come in next week. This makes no sense. Putting the maximum number of staff and students in the school buildings for two to four days, as Mulgrew agreed to today (see email below), seems to be an almost ideal way to spread COVID-19 to as many as possible in the schools next week. Mulgrew could change the line in his email from: "It is important that we're all together to support one another in the first days of in-person instruction;" to: "It is important that we're all together to infect one another..."

If principals are dancing off on their own, I cannot for the life of me understand why UFTers, DC37ers, and other CSAers just don't take action. The easiest way is to adhere to the DOE rules. What if thousands of you fail the required daily self-health screening and stay home for the next two work weeks without loss of CAR days if you have any COVID-19 symptom which could be as simple as a runny nose causing you to lose some sense of smell?

Even if DOEers are accused of striking and breaking the dreaded Taylor Law, you could use telemedicine to get a note. In the past, teachers truly didn't give a damn about the even more draconian Condon Wadlin Act and just did what they had to do to gain respect. For example, the 1959 successful strike by the Evening High School Teachers technically was not a strike. The teachers all resigned to get around the law that said they would be fired for striking. I believe the 1967 UFT strike used the same method. You don't need to resign as those brave teachers led by Roger Parente did in 1959, just fail the daily health screening. The DOE will even pay you for ten school days to do it and they will still cover you without loss of CAR days if, God forbid, you come down with COVID-19 separately.

While I respect those who worked hard to file a lawsuit to expand remote accommodations and those who have protested by working outside of their buildings, I am still surprised that it is principals, not teachers, who are showing real defiance. I will take my labor militancy anywhere I can find it as there is COVID-19 in 150 school buildings that have been opened for staff for only three weeks. This is about our collective health. 

I hope I am not insulting anyone by playing amateur psychologist here and saying this might be mass learned helplessness. It appears you guys have been beaten down for so long by an uncaring employer and union leadership that fights harder for its dues than your health so you are resigned to it. Or maybe all of you just feel it's safe. 

Please no comments on opting out. Not paying union dues won't stop a single COVID-19 infection now. It's not about money; it's about diminishing a probable second wave of a deadly virus.

Mulgrew's email:   

Dear _________,

The provision in our new agreement that gives UFT members with no on-site duties the option to work remotely takes effect on Monday, Oct. 5.

Everyone must continue to report to school buildings and other sites for one more week, except those with medical accommodations. It is important that we’re all together to support one another in the first days of in-person instruction.

Stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

Michael Mulgrew

UFT President

The Tottenville HS letter:



NEW DOE-UFT AGREEMENT ALLOWS MORE REMOTE WORK BUT ACTION IS STILL NEEDED IF YOU WANT SYSTEM TO GO FULLY REMOTE

While the major highlight of the latest UFT-DOE Memorandum of Agreement is the ability of more UFTers to work from home to teach remotely if they do not have in school responsibilities, this MOA further complicates an already convoluted setup for the 2020-2021 school year. It also puts real pressure on chapter leaders to uphold the Contract. Please read the full Memorandum of Agreement for yourself as it actually ends the grievance process until further notice. As always, what is agreed to by the Union and DOE raises unanswered questions but this MOA is not useless and can be used to help you.

For all of you who want the system to go all remote quickly to contain a possible second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, this provision may provide a way forward: "Livestreaming is an individual teacher’s choice and therefore shall not be included in any SBO proposal." The UFT clarified in the FAQ that we copied yesterday by defining the term: "Live streaming is the act of an in-person teacher broadcasting any part of their in-person classroom to remote students." The agreement doesn't ban livestreaming but leaves it up to the individual teacher. If the goal of most teachers is to get the system to go fully remote as fast as possible, then I recommend every in-person teacher should request to live stream. Make sure the kids in front of you have a laptop and the teacher should do the same activity with them that she/he is doing with the students who are at home. The live pupils will get the message in a day that it is an identical lesson whether they are live or remote and will not come back except for a very small number who have no place to go and could be welcomed by staff who volunteer to work in the buildings. At the secondary level, it won't be very difficult to convince kids to stay home. 

I know we have principals who read here so I ask you to encourage livestreaming as we have outlined it. If one of our more difficult principals demands that a teacher do something different with the kids who are in the classroom live as opposed to those who are learning from home, then teachers will have to exert their rights and say they refuse to livestream. Find out what is expected in advance and get it in writing in an email.

 I have witnessed closely this past week the remote teaching on Googe Meet from all three levels in NYC (elementary, middle school, and high school) as my home has a student in elementary school, one in middle school, and my wife is a high school teacher. I have monitored the meets of both of my kids. While it has been a challenge, to say the least, to convince our first grader to sit through the meets and then do his work, he has succeeded and he had fun doing some of the activities. My daughter's middle school classes are as close to real school as remote schools can be with interactions that had the feel of a regular classroom. My wife has already developed a rapport with her high school students who are having live discussions and are learning. 

The highlight of the week for me was when my son went downstairs to where my wife was teaching looking for something to eat. The students in my wife's class saw him on camera and told my wife it was okay to fix him a snack. I know it is only week one but what I witnessed seems to be working much better than what was offered in the spring. I'm also aware that many students do not have access to technology like we do but that is what the DOE-City should have been working on all summer instead of wasting, effort and money on an unworkable blended learning system. It isn't too late to help them to abandon it.

On the School Based Option process in the new MOA, chapter leaders are going to have to say no when asked to do something like raise class sizes. The UFT agreeing here makes absolutely no sense but is typical. 

The end of the grievance procedure until further notice in the MOA is just the latest UFT abomination. The inferior operational complaint process gives individual UFT members no right to grieve contractual violations. Some issues are not operational. As I say too often here, I am not a lawyer but I don't even know if it's legal to go seven months without some kind of grievance procedure. Here is what the Taylor Law says:

203 Right of Representation

Public employees shall have the right to be represented by employee organizations, to negotiate collectively with their public employers in the determination of their terms and conditions of employment, and the administration of grievances arising thereunder.

Public employees have a right to a grievance procedure in the law. Ending grievances indefinitely gives teachers one more reason to work against the UFT leadership. 

I suggest anyone who gets a stupid letter to the file that violates some clause of the Contract should demand that the chapter leader find some way to make it an operational complaint. We will help publicize ridiculous letters here if you would like. Under these circumstances, next spring's Chapter Leader Elections are more important than ever. In these uncertain times, there is no substitute for having a strong chapter leader who will stand up to the principal when necessary. By opting out of the UFT, you won't get a vote in the spring Chapter Leader Election or on any of these SBO's the new MOA allows.

Overall, leaving this to the last minute again is just a nightmare for planning purposes. But look who signed the MOA: Michael "Dither" Mulgrew and "Clueless" Richard Carranza.

Read clause 11 if you think this is the last word:

The parties will meet to jointly determine what sections of the agreement are relevant if schools need to transition between learning modalities. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

THE LATEST NEW AND IMPROVED UFT-DOE AGREEMENT

Dear ______,

I appreciate your patience and perseverance as we push through these tough initial weeks of the school year. We reached an agreement today with the Department of Education that resolves outstanding issues that have been a legitimate source of frustration for many of you.

More discretion to work remotely: The DOE will be instructing principals that all UFT-represented employees in all job titles who have no on-site duties or responsibilities have the option to work remotely. This applies to UFT members who have full days of remote responsibilities as well as UFT members with on-site assignments who have work that can be done remotely when no students are assigned to be in the school building. This policy will keep us safer and reduce the traffic on overextended school Wi-Fi networks.

Supervisors may require UFT employees to remain on site on an as-needed basis only.

New protection for vulnerable family members: To the extent possible and as soon as practicable, UFT members who are the primary caregivers of family members in their household who have underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk of COVID-19 complications as set forth by the Centers for Disease Control guidelines will now get priority for any remote positions not filled by staff with medical accommodations.

Other highlights of the new agreement:

●Per session work can be done remotely, and retention rights will be protected.

●All parent-teacher conferences will be conducted remotely this school year.

●The DOE must consult with the UFT before changing the working conditions for itinerant employees who are working remotely or at one school.

●Teacher programs that violate the DOE-UFT agreement on schedules and class size must be changed unless the school chapter agrees to the program as is through a school-based option (SBO) vote. In certain cases, the superintendent and the UFT district representative, or the borough rep and the executive superintendent, may help principals and chapter leaders find common ground on these issues. Live streaming is an individual's choice and should not be included in any SBO proposal.

This new DOE-UFT agreement also incorporates our prior agreements (on instructional programs, class size, itinerant employees, paraprofessionals, speech teachers and occupational and physical therapists) so they are all enforceable as part of this Memorandum of Agreement.

The full agreement

The UFT's FAQ:











 



NYC DESPERATELY SEEKING SUBSTITUTES

Two emails came my way on DOE recruitment. It seems if you have a college degree in anything and were fingerprinted by the Department of Education at any point after the Pleistocene era, you are eligible to work as a substitute teacher in NYC.

This is from the DOE:

Dear Colleague:

Sometime over the last several years, you were fingerprinted with the NYC Department of Education for one of its auxiliary or after school programs.   You may have also worked for a charter school, a community-based organization or one of the many early childhood centers around the city.   Currently, the NYCDOE is working to increase its staff of per diem day-to-day substitutes to work in the NYC schools for the new school year.  As this is a very different year, with extraordinary needs, the DOE is reaching out to various groups to assess their eligibility and interest in working as a substitute teacher.  Per Diem substitutes will work in schools either replacing absent teachers or adding additional on-site assistance for students. 

Substitute teachers are paid $193.47 per day for a 6 hour and 50 minute day.  Substitutes are expected to be on site for the entire school day and adhere to the schedule of the school. Based on the needs of the individual schools, assignments are available for both day to day and long term assignments. New substitutes must complete a series of online workshops prior to employment and you will be required to have fingerprint clearance with the NYCDOE before any employment commences.

Since you have previously been fingerprinted and are not presently working for us, we invite you to become part of our family.  If you are interested in becoming a substitute teacher for the NYC Public Schools, please complete this survey which can be accessed by clicking on this link, https://forms.gle/o2rYsJgy3E6v5avJ7 .  Once you complete and submit the survey, the DOE will send you a follow up email which will include the official application, the specific requirements and next steps, provided you meet the minimum requirements for the position.

Thank you for your interest in the NYC Department of Education.

Office of School Support Services

Division of Human Capital


This one is from CUNY, to graduate students:

Hello!

You’re receiving this email because you’re a CUNY graduate student in Education.  We know employment prospects remain challenging, so we're emailing you with resources in case you're looking for a fall job in education.

The NYC Department of Education is working to increase its staff of per diem day-to-day substitutes to work in the NYC schools for the new school year.  As this is a very different year, with extraordinary needs, the DOE is reaching out to various groups to assess their eligibility and interest in working as a substitute teacher.  Per diem substitutes will work in schools either replacing absent teachers or adding additional on-site assistance for students.  

As a teacher candidate at CUNY, you are being given the opportunity to work as a substitute teacher before you complete your master's degree.  This offer is for this current school year only and you must be able to work during the months of September through December.  You must already hold a bachelor's degree issued prior to 9/1/2020.  If you are enrolled in clinical coursework, substitute work must be done on days when you are NOT student teaching, as this would create a conflict.

Substitute teachers are paid $193.47 per day for a 6 hour and 50 minute day.  Substitutes are expected to be on site for the entire school day and adhere to the schedule of the school. Based on the needs of the individual schools, assignments are available for both day to day and long term assignments. New substitutes must complete a series of online workshops prior to employment and you will be required to have fingerprint clearance with the NYCDOE before any employment commences.

If you are interested in becoming a substitute teacher for the NYC Public Schools, please complete this survey which can be accessed by clicking on this link. Once you complete and submit the survey, the DOE will send you a follow up email which include the official application, the specific requirements, and next steps.

If you're studying Early Childhood or Childhood Education (or are focused on these grade bands) you may also want to join the ECE Employment Network, sponsored by CUNY's Professional Development Institute, to connect to additional employers.

CUNY is committed to the academic and career success of its students and graduates, and wishes you success and perseverance this semester.

Best,

CUNY Teacher Education

After reading both of these emails, I have to ask: Why is the DOE looking for day-to-day substitutes if they still have vacancies? Shouldn't these applicants be offered regular jobs as per the requirement of the UFT Contract and the law if there are vacancies? They should not have to be day-to-day substitutes if there are open positions.

Part of Article 5B-Regularized Licensure

All teaching positions will be filled by persons holding such regular licenses except under the following circumstances:

1. Where a position must be filled to cover a class for which no person holding such regular license is immediately available after all efforts have been made to fill the position by a person holding such regular license;

2. Where the position covers a subject not normally taught in the public schools and is temporary in nature.

Based on this, why are there still Absent Teacher Reserves if there are vacancies?

If the DOE reaches out to me to sub, you will know they will truly hire anyone. Come to think of it, I was a temporary per diem substitute back in the 1980s when I started. 

P.S. There are a million and one rumors out there. I have no inside information. Jillian Jorgensen from NY1 said none of the rumors checked out. 



Thursday, September 24, 2020

CARRANZA'S UNPAID FURLOUGH WORDED TO LOOK LIKE IT MIGHT JUST INCLUDE OUR OPT OUT FRIENDS

Chancellor Carranza in yesterday's email to employees said this:

But unfortunately we have reached the point where the Mayor announced this morning that all managerial and non-represented City employees-meaning employees who are not members of a union-will be required to take five unpaid workdays as furlough between October 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

The UFT reacted on Twitter:

No UFT members employed by the DOE are being furloughed. The "Important Announcement" email sent to all staff from Chancellor Carranza tonight pertains only to managerial employees and other DOE employees not represented by a union.

The furlough according to what both Carranza and the UFT are writing about would seem to include our three commenters who have opted out of the UFT 500 times. They are proud non-union members.  Those five days of lost pay would more than make up for the union dues they are saving.

Whether this is legal or not, I don't know as I am not a lawyer. I also do not know if the opt outers are included in the furlough program and I guess I should take this down if you can show that the opt outers are not in this. If you are included, legal fees to get the money back would probably cost more than five days pay. If you go to small claims court or PERB by yourself, I wish you the best.

THREE JUDGES REFUSE TO RULE ON MERITS OF DOE ACCOMMODATION POLICY

The UFT Solidarity led lawsuit to widen the number of UFTers who can receive accommodations to work remotely has been passed on by three NY judges. All three have found reasons not to rule. This is is rather unusual as far as I can tell.

Judge 1 is Dakota Ramseur who seemed quite reasonable on the first day of arguments that I listened to. She issued a Temporary Restraining Order allowing the plaintiffs to work remotely until she could see a full presentation from the attorneys. A few days later during the oral arguments that I also monitored, she sounded like a completely different person questioning the attorney for the teachers, Bryan Glass, in a very hostile way. 

To get herself out of having to make a decision on the merits, on September 17 Judge Ramseur used a technicality to say she only heard cases against the city and the Department of Education was not legally an official city agency. Glass had sued both the City of New York and the Department of Education. She changed it to only be against the DOE and passed it on to another judge.

Judge 2 got the case next and recused herself so fast that she clearly did not want to touch it. Judge 3 is the Honorable Carol. R Edmead. She received this "You can have it, I don't want it" case and held a hearing yesterday with the lawyers. She then issued one of the strangest decisions I have ever seen when she wrote:

This Court holds that it may not overturn the September 18, 2020 Order which was issued by a court of concurrent jurisdiction. 

But Your Honor, Judge Ramseur didn't issue a ruling on the merits; she just passed it along. Are you overturning her passing it to you?

Bryan Glass and Lydia Howrilka are livid. Is there a judge out there who will rule on the merits of the Department of Education's arbitrary and capricious accommodation policy? Glass will refile with a different judge and see if number 4 will finally rule on the merits.

Ask yourself this question:

Why do the judges in Manhattan want nothing to do with this case?

Why is it such a hot potato?

There are over 30 plaintiffs as far as I know. There are many UFTers who are ready to fight for their right to a reasonable accommodation to work from home which is where every UFTer who desires should be working from during the pandemic. 

NYC SCHOOL VENTILATION PROTOCOLS FOR SCHOOL REOPENING

 Ventilation Protocols for School Reopening

The Division of School Facilities (DSF) will continue to implement a comprehensive and strategic approach to ensure every building has proper ventilation that is operating as designed. Custodial staff are performing regular maintenance on all heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. HVAC systems provide heating and cooling to our administrative and school buildings. These systems will be maintained in proper working order with a focus on fresh air intake, ventilation, exhaust and filtration. All air filters are being cleaned, replaced, or modified as required and will be maintained throughout the school year. DSF will utilize filters of a higher efficiency rating, where applicable.

To promote enhanced airflow in public school buildings the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) partnered with city agencies across NYC (DSF/DOB/DOHMH/FDNY) and the School Construction Authority (SCA) to deploy independent engineers to perform ventilation inspections. Utilizing guidance set forth by the World Health Organizations (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)(Open external link), a citywide team of independent engineers have assessed each space, including restrooms, to determine if there is operational ventilation. The engineer teams identified specific rooms with issues and provided a path to a resolution.

Each principal has received a copy of the SCA ventilation walkthrough report which contained the complete inspection data for every room that was visited. Currently, we have 56.8 percent of bathrooms listed as in need of repairs and/or improvements to ventilation systems.


HVAC Policy

HVAC systems will be maintained in proper working order to maximize the supply of outdoor air for ventilation All school buildings are provided with ventilation by a combination of the following systems:

Supply and exhaust fans 

Windows and exhaust fans 

Combination of supply and exhaust fans and windows 

HVAC systems - roof top units, air handling units and dedicated outside systems

These systems are installed to meet the Building Code Requirements at the time of design and construction. 

Buildings that have supply and exhaust fans do not require operable windows. Windows can be used for additional air dilution and supplemental ventilation, or if the mechanical system fails.

For effective ventilation, windows will need to be open when the room is occupied. Buildings that have operable windows and exhaust fans meet the ventilation requirements. The windows must have 4% of the total square footage of the room opened when occupied. Please work with the custodial staff to ensure effective ventilation in rooms with windows.

Mechanical ventilation can be utilized with both supply and exhaust fans, or only exhaust fans and the use of windows for make-up air. When windows and exhaust fans are used, the window opening must equal 4% of the occupied floor area.

Mechanical ventilation is provided by HVAC Units that supply fresh air into inner core rooms of buildings that do not have windows. Please speak with your custodian engineer to ensure fresh air is being supplied into any inner core rooms without windows in the building if comfort levels fluctuate.

In preparation for the first day of school (FDOS), DSF has taken the following steps to ensure the systems that were installed meet the building code requirements at the time of design and construction.

If your building has rooms designed without windows:

Custodian engineers will maximize the mechanical ventilation provided by HVAC Units that supply fresh air into inner core rooms of buildings.

Custodial staff are performing regular maintenance on all HVAC systems. All air filters are being cleaned, replaced, or modified as required for FDOS and will be maintained throughout the school year. DSF will be upgrading filters to a higher efficiency rating, where applicable.

All HVAC equipment and the areas/rooms supported by these systems have been inspected by custodian engineers and will continue to be inspected daily to ensure proper operation.

Custodial staff will operate all applicable HVAC equipment and ventilate buildings two (2) hours prior to building occupancy and one (1) hour after building occupancy.

If your building is designed with windows:

Buildings that have operable windows and exhaust fans are in compliance with ventilation requirements. Windows will remain open when spaces are occupied with building exhaust systems operating. For more information regarding windows, please reach out to your custodian engineer or custodial staff in the building.

Custodial staff will operate all exhaust systems two (2) hours prior to building occupancy and one (1) hour after building occupancy.

Restroom Guidance

A restroom is deemed to have operational ventilation if air is able to flow in and out; whether by natural or mechanical means. Thus, a restroom is deemed to have operational ventilation if it has at least one of the following ventilation options:

An operational supply fan

An operational exhaust fan

An operational unit ventilator

An operational HEPA-rated air purifier

In the event the restroom ventilation is not operating, open windows, open doors, and limit the quantity in the restroom to (1) one occupant

An important approach to lowering the concentrations of indoor air pollutants or contaminants is to increase ventilation. It is ideal to leave a bathroom door open to provide optimal cross air ventilation. For privacy, most doors are equipped with vents that also bring in air and assist in reducing indoor air pollutants.

At times, increasing ventilation with all or mostly outside air may not always be possible or practical. In such cases, we adhere to the guidance set forth by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Open external link) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) which states that the effective rate of ventilation per person can also be increased by limiting the number of people present in any given space; in our case, the restrooms.

Implementation should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the meet the needs of each school. Therefore, if a restroom does not have at least one of the above referenced ventilation options, it will either be taken offline, used with a limited capacity or utilized for single use occupancy until such repairs can be made. It is also critically important to note, since the time of these inspections up until today, the DOE is working on an aggressive timeline and many of the repairs identified in the SCA inspection report have already been made by custodian engineers, skilled trade workers, contractors or the SCA.


Safe Restroom Practices

Measures to reduce the quantity of occupants, ensure proper ventilation, and increase the frequency of handwashing reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in restrooms. Examples of safe restroom practices include:

Limit the number of individuals permitted to use a given restroom at one time to allow for (6) six-foot safe distancing

Restrict sink use to every other station to ensure (6) six-foot safe distancing

Require regular handwashing with warm water for at least (20) twenty seconds, or with an alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol

Require staff and students to wash hands when they are visibly soiled and after removing any personal protective equipment (PPE)

Post handwashing signs in restrooms

Ensure that if restroom ventilation (e.g. operational supply fan, operational exhaust, or unit ventilator ) are operating, the restroom door should be left open to avoid the need for occupants to touch doorknobs and handles; and

If restroom ventilation is not operating, open windows, open doors, and limit the quantity to (1) one occupant. 

Ventilation When Cleaning and Disinfecting

When cleaning and disinfecting for COVID-19, ventilation is important. The Division of School Facilities (DSF) uses EPA approved anti-viral cleaning and disinfecting products (adhering to their label instructions) as this is the best way to ensure that any indoor air pollution risks are minimized while still maintaining the effectiveness of the disinfecting product.


Lastly, our custodial staff are regularly inspecting bathrooms for cleanliness, disinfecting touchpoints, and stocking restrooms with hand soap, toilet paper and paper towels at all times. At the end of each day, all restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected utilizing the above-mentioned EPA approved disinfectant(s) suited for the elimination of COVID-19.


For questions regarding HVAC, principals can reach out to their deputy director of facilities (DDF)(Open external link).


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

NYC SCHOOLS AT MODERATELY HIGH RISK OF SPREADING COVID-19 ACCORDING TO A KEY CDC GUIDELINE

 This CDC chart on reopening school buildings that is on the Staten Island Advance webpage concerns me.

What is NYC's number of new cases per 100,000 in the last 14 days? The answer was in Patch Tuesday:

The average rate citywide is 76 cases per 100,000 residents over the last four weeks.

That puts NYC in the orange "Higher Risk of Tranmission in Schools" category. Judging by how the contact tracing and PPE have been spotty at best, the DOE probably won't get a grade greater than "Moderate Risk of Transmission in Schools" in the final category.

What is the safest way to educate during the pandemic? Back to the CDC on their Continuum of Risk:

Lowest risk:

Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events

You don't have to accept going into buildings if you don't feel it's safe. Can we please have the guts to collectively demand some human compassion before more DOE employees, students, and families are infected? I have been watching my two kids and my wife doing remote learning and teaching from home all week. It isn't perfect nor a substitute for in-person learning but there is live teaching and learning occurring. We can keep educating children at home  from teacher homes while saving lives and quite probably helping to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 in schools.


INDUSTRIAL HYGIENEST SAYS DOE-UFT VENTILATION REPORTS "ARE FOR SHIT"

 The tweet below was at NY BATS Twitter yesterday. The tweet cites a Gothamist piece from September 13 that I had not seen until today.


Monona Rossol is an industrial hygienist. She is cited in the Gothamist article:

Rossol bluntly asserted that the school ventilation reports released by the city Department of Education and United Federation of Teachers union "are for shit" because they fail to provide specific information when it comes to proper ventilation, offering only vague responses. She contends the standards DOE inspectors follow to determine air quality, as outlined by the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers [ASHRAE], are inadequate.

"They say, 'Well, you know, all you need is a little open window, a little fresh air, and people will survive' and that's very true" in most cases, said Rossol. "But they won't survive this bug because this bug is a contaminant that is very small and is created in the space. So if you recirculate the air...you're just running the damn stuff around the building. It's just a really bad system; we have to literally walk away from the ASHRAE standard."

The Gothamist map of COVID-19 cases in NYC schools continues to add more buildings. My understanding is it has passed the century mark. 

If your school or a school you know of has a case or more of COVID-19 that the DOE is trying to sweep under the rug, get the information to us and we will forward it to a reporter who asked us if we have any such reports. We will keep your name confidential. iceuft@gmail.com is our email.

I haven't heard of as many teacher protests this week. Have people just resigned themselves that there is nothing they can do or are they lacking any time due to some of the crazy demands of remote teaching from school buildings? If people have just surrendered in the middle of a pandemic, that is very, very sad. The struggle is for your health.


Update: This is from Gothamist today on COVID-19 surges in several NYC neighborhoods:

"At this point in time, these increases could potentially evolve into more widespread community transmission and spread to other neighborhoods unless action is taken," the Department of Health wrote in an email Tuesday evening. "We are monitoring the situation for the need to take further steps in these areas."

The alert from the city comes as the city braces for what some experts say could be a resurgence or "second wave" of the virus as schools reopen, more employees go back to work and restaurants prepare to expand with indoor dining at the end of the month. On top of that, the change in seasons and colder weather is expected to bring more people indoors, adding to the risk of aerosol transmission.

BATS heard from another expert.



Tuesday, September 22, 2020

UNION SUES TO TRY TO GET A NYC HIGH SCHOOL CLOSED FOR POOR VENTILATION BUT IT'S NOT THE UFT

The story below was at the ICEUFT@gmail.com inbox tonight. The Professional Staff Congress, not the UFT, represents the teachers at Hunter College High School. The PSC sued today to get two buildings closed down. 

I've said it a thousand times here and I will say it again: We need a better union, not to be without a union. 


NEWS RELEASE

Released: Tues., Sept. 22

Contact: Fran Clark, Fclark@pscmail.org, 914-364-8925

CUNY Teachers' Union Files Restraining Order to Bar In-Person Classes at Hunter College Campus Schools until Building is Proven Safe 

Prestigious K-12 Public Schools Run by Hunter College Violated Own COVID Safety Plan, Installing Unproven “Air Purifiers” Instead of HEPA Filters

New York—The union representing teachers at the Hunter College Campus Schools (HCCS) petitioned a State Court today to grant a temporary restraining order and injunction against the City University of New York and Hunter College. The Professional Staff Congress (PSC) asked the judge to bar administrators from compelling its members to return in-person teaching at the public elementary and high school until real HEPA filters are installed in every classroom, as required in the school’s reopening plan. The union also asked the judge to direct CUNY to permit an independent inspection of the HCCS building and ventilation system.

The petition covers the fortress-like building with windowless classrooms located at 94th Street and Park Avenue and the Silberman School of Social Work on 119th and 3rd Avenue, where some students will attend class this fall.

“Teachers’ life-and-death concerns have been met with inaction by Hunter College President Jennifer Raab and HCCS Director Lisa Siegmann. Their demands for COVID testing, small classroom pods, independent inspections and other protections provided to students and staff at all other NYC public schools have been denied. And now we have learned Hunter isn’t even following its own, inadequate safety plan,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the PSC, the union representing 150 Hunter teachers and staff and 30,000 other academic staff at CUNY.

Authorities say rooms with ventilation systems inadequate for air filters that can remove COVID-19 virus particles (MERV13 or better) should be equipped with HEPA filters, which have been found to be more that 99.97% efficient at capturing airborne viral particles.

The HCCS Plan says portable HEPA filtration units “will be installed in classrooms which have ventilation systems that use recirculated air.” Instead, the schools have installed untested chemical air purifiers (not even filters) whose efficacy against COVID-19 or other viruses is unknown.

Remote instruction at HCCS began yesterday, September 21. In-person and hybrid instruction will start September 29 for grades K-6 and October 1 for grades 7-10 (grades 11-12 will start the year all-remote). Most of the school’s 1500 students will then begin hybrid instruction at the 94th Street building.

HCCS teachers pressed all summer for a voice in the reopening plan and have called for a delayed reopening of the building. They want to return to in-person teaching in buildings that have been proven safe with adequate health and safety protocols and an independent inspection.


Meanwhile, back at UFT represented k-12  schools, UFTers continue to report to what they believe are unsafe buildings. This picture from Dodge says so much. The PSC, UFT Solidarity and others are fighting back. Don't give up the fight. Find whoever will listen to you and make noise.


DOE-UFT ventilation in Manhattan below

 

EARLY RETIREMENT INCENTIVE IS STILL ON THE TABLE DURING STAFFING SHORTAGE

Can anybody figure out what is really going on in the school system this fall? The media is reporting that an Early Retirement Incentive is being discussed by the unions and the city (it would have to be approved by the State Legislature and signed by the governor) to save the city money. Meanwhile, at the same time there are reports of thousands of new teachers needing to be hired to alleviate shortages. If thousands take a retirement incentive, the shortage just grows.  

From yesterday's NY Daily News:

New York City employees facing potential layoffs should get early retirement incentives as part of the city’s efforts to identify savings amid a worsening fiscal crisis, Mayor de Blasio said Monday.

“It’s not the whole solution, but early retirement will definitely be a piece of the solution,” the mayor said at his Monday press briefing. “Early retirement as a policy is something we have to put into play."

An early retirement incentive when there is a huge shortage seems contradictory. This is from Politico from yesterday:

The city agreed to bring on 4,500 new teachers to alleviate a shortage sparked by a policy requiring separate teachers for in-person and online sessions. But the principals and teachers unions say that will only be enough to staff elementary schools, not middle schools and high schools.

"We still do not have the number for middle school and high school," United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew said Monday at a press conference at the Mickey Mantle School in Manhattan.

I know there are grand conspiracy theorists in our audience who think there is a giant master plan at work here but as an Oswald was the lone assassin of JFK theorist, I am just trying to make some sense out of this. In addition, has there ever been a retirement incentive offered after school starts? That just further adds to the chaos.

Maybe, all of you are right that the DOE just wants to get rid of anyone paid a decent salary. Could the DOE be planning to do what they always wanted to do in some schools by letting the School Aides teach as the next group up?Aides are way underpaid and they do just about everything else in the schools when asked. Don't bet against the Parent Coordiatiors being deputized to teach soon too.

I wish we had a real union to stop the madness and teachers who were ready to organize that union rather than just complaining or opting out of dues.

For those who want to worry some more, this is from the same NY Daily News piece:

De Blasio has been in talks with city labor leaders for weeks to identify savings from the city’s workforce — whether it be through early retirement incentives, or having city workers pay for a portion of their health care premiums.


PARAS CAN TEACH WITHOUT A TEACHER PRESENT AND DO ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES UNDER NEW AGREEMENT

Agreement regarding the changes in paraprofessional duties and working conditions during the COVID period.

It is the intention of both parties to incorporate the following into an overarching memorandum of understanding that is made in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and the DOE response thereto:

On-site paraprofessionals, during their contractual workday, when they are not working directly with a specific student or class, may be directed to:

• assist with arrival and/or dismissal including busing

• assist with health screening upon entry

• provide student and parent outreach

• provide other administrative duties including but not limited to hall duty, cafeteria duty, attendance processing 

Paraprofessionals will not be required to stay in the school building for more than 6 hours and 20 minutes per day. Paraprofessionals will be expected to remotely perform the equivalent of 30 minutes of work. 

Paraprofessional Classroom Manager

DOE will post the position of Paraprofessional Classroom Manager. The paraprofessional classroom manager will receive a per term stipend of $1,750 to perform this work. Among those paraprofessionals that apply, priority will be given to those who have been accepted into the Lead Teacher Assistant (LTA) pool but have not been selected for an LTA position. 

The duties of this position shall be to manage classrooms of students, under the general direction of a pedagogue, while the students:

• perform independent work

• eat during non-instructional lunch

• are being instructed by a remote teacher during synchronous learning. In this scenario, the total class size (on-site students + remote students) may not exceed pre COVID class size limitations for that subject area/grade level.

In the event of an emergency, the paraprofessional classroom manager may teach a scheduled class when no teacher is available to cover. 

• If a Paraprofessional Classroom Manager is asked to do more than 5 such emergency coverages  in a term, then the PCA will be paid the teacher’s coverage rate (in addition to the stipend above).

The paraprofessional classroom manager will not be expected to teach except in an emergency coverage situation as described above. 

The DOE must have just cause for any discipline (up to and including discharge) of a Paraprofessional CClassroom Manager for any conduct (incompetence and/or misconduct) that occurred while the Paraprofessional Classroom Manager was not under the direct supervision of licensed teacher.

Monday, September 21, 2020

GOOD OPENING DAY ACCORDING TO MULGREW

One can usually figure out the state of the UFT's relationship with the mayor by how President Michael Mulgrew talks about the state of the schools. If his phone calls are answered at City Hall, schools are great. If he has to leave a message, then some reality about major problems in the schools may actually come from Mulgrew's mouth. Today, Mulgrew's call may have been answered on the first ring.

From Arthur Goldstein's report from tonight's Executive Board:

Our focus has to be getting our schools up and going. Six months and six days since we had in person learning, wants to thank d75 staff, early childhood all teachers who were there today. First time I felt everyone DOE, UFT and CSA were on same page. Really was good day in terms of what we were able to accomplish.

We understand people are anxious and apprehensive. We worry about children being traumatized and adults are too. Thanks teachers and paraprofessionals who welcomed kids today. 

Forget about the UFT fighting for full remote. The spin is going to be that it's wonderful for the most part in the buildings. I hear Mulgrew more than Chancellor Richard Carranza these last few days promoting the reopening of buildings. This top-down union that ignores so many members will continue like this until you collectively say no more, not by opting out of union dues, but by organizing for a better union.

For some reality on what is likely to come in the next few months, this is from Reuters:

Although new cases are down about 50% from the peak in July, the United States is still reporting on average nearly 40,000 new infections a day - the highest number in the developed world.

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has said he would like to see new cases below 10,000 per day before flu season starts in October.

"We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it's not going to be easy," Fauci said during a panel discussion with doctors at Harvard Medical School earlier this month.

"We've been through this before," he said. "Don't ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don't try and look at the rosy side of things."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield has also warned that Americans are in for "the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we've ever had," citing concerns of a possible "twindemic" of COVID-19 cases and the seasonal flu overwhelming hospitals.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

GOTHAMIST POST SHOWS 91 SCHOOLS WHERE AT LEAST ONE STAFFER HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

 This is what everyone has been looking for today on COVID-19 in NYC schools. This is from twitter:


This projection of coronavirus in NY from the bottom of the Gothamist Coronavirus page worried me just as much as the map above. Why are schools opening up again? Is it to make sure that curve rises? 



UFT SOLIDARITY LEADER ASKS MULGREW TO JOIN LAWSUIT SEEKING MORE COVID-19 ACCOMMODATIONS TO WORK REMOTELY FROM HOME

This email to President Mulgrew was forwarded to me this evening from one of the petitioners in the lawsuit to expand remote accommodations. The case was started by UFT Solidarity, led by 2019 UFT presidential candidate Lydia Howrilka. 

Please note the ending where Lydia says that if the UFT does not join the case, they will have breached their duty to fair representation. I'm totally not sure how this will play out but you have to give Lydia an A+ for trying to represent UFT members with everything she has.

To: Michael Mulgrew

Cc: LeRoy Barr

Subject: Open Litigation- Will the UFT join us?

Dear Mr. Mulgrew:

We have over 20 UFT members who have committed on Monday to refile this petition Corwin et. al. v. City of NY demanding for fair remote work accommodation. These dues paying members are paying out of their own pockets for an attorney because they feel that they are not being properly supported by their employer and their union. We have discovered that there is no policy in the DOE that is universally applied. Our fact- finding has shown that people have been denied multiple times and there is no clear guidance on the "informal accommodation process."

The DOE remote work accommodation process is inequitable. Some members have been arbitrary been denied. Rubber room teachers are told to stay home on full pay. Our members feel that they are being used as Guinea pigs and are risking their family's safety. There are more members out there who are too scared to go public. My phone has been ringing off the hook for the past six weeks and I keep on receiving email requests asking me about our case and what they should do since they do not feel safe and they doubt the union cares.

We ask that the UFT join us as a party or amicus curiae on this case. If you do not stand by us, we will have no choice but to name you as a respondent for breach of the duty of fair representation to your members.

Please advise us what you plan to do.

Thank you.

Best,

Lydia Howrilka

TWO DAY DELAY IN TELLING STAFF ABOUT POSITIVE COVID-19 TEST AT QUEENS HIGH SCHOOL FOR INFORMATION, RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY AT FAR ROCKAWAY CAMPUS

 From Sue Edelman in the NY Post:

At the Queens High School for Information, Research, and Technology in Far Rockaway, at least 13 teachers and administrators — including the principal and three assistant principals — are now quarantined for two weeks after a supervisor in charge of safety and security tested positive, according to staffers.

“Any one of them could come down with it now,” a staffer told The Post, referring to the exposed colleagues.

Also upsetting to teachers: They spent two days in the building after the staffer tested positive on Monday. They received notification about the case on Wednesday evening.

You may be wondering about the UFT's involvement here. Since Jeff Kaufman works in the building, we were sent the District Rep's email to the Chapter Leader from Wednesday:

It appears that an employee from your school tested positive and reported it to the school on Monday. I have no reason to believe that the administration did not follow the protocols, but although the DOE and NYC promised to do the contact tracing necessary and the notification to the staff, it appears at this moment that neither has been done. The union is involved and I have reached out to the superintendent for an explanation of this case. Please let your staff know.

Jeff Kaufman wrote a response to the DR. A major part of it is copied below:

While [the District Rep] has "no reason to believe" the administration did anything wrong how is it that we find out about this from the Union over 2 days later than the employee reported it? Didn't the administration have a duty to advise us on Monday? When did the Union find out?

[The District Representative] admits no contract tracing was done but, don't worry, "the union is involved." What the hell does that mean? Who is protecting us?

I have notified the media of this finding but I guarantee there are many more schools where this information, like it was in March, will be hidden from our fellow teachers and the public.

I have been skeptical of both the DOE and our Union for most of my career but I never thought they would conspire, either through recklessness or some perverted sense of maintaining the status quo, of endangering our lives. This has to stop.

Sue reports 61 DOE COVID-19 positive tests since September 8, "including 23 who reported to 21 school buildings and possibly infected others." We don't know how many are quarantined.

This has the potential to get worse when the students arrive starting tomorrow in District 75, pre-k and 3-k.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew's words from Friday's tv interview keep playing in my head:

"Look, this is a major challenge and every other large school system ran away from it. We're not."

What I cannot comprehend is why so many UFTers would still go into buildings if they believe they are unsafe. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

MULGREW IN PIX 11 INTERVIEW TAKES OWNERSHIP ALONG WITH MAYOR OF SCHOOL REOPENING PLAN

There is a must see lengthy interview of UFT President Michael Mulgrew from PIX 11 news that aired Friday morning. Everyone needs to watch and listen very closely to what the UFT President says.

They start the segment by showing a protest in front of Benjamin Cardozo High School on Thursday with a longtime Unity Caucus Chapter Leader leading a chant of, "Teachers Vote, Stay Remote!" Then, the news anchor explains the latest delay in the start of the school year. Next, comes the long interview with Mulgrew.

Mulgrew says the main issue now is staffing. He states that it's been on the table for months. He says there are still some ventilation problems but most have been cleared up. He continues that most of the PPE issues should be taken care of by the end of this weekend. He concludes by noting that some safety problems haven't been worked out but the main issue is staffing.

Mulgrew says he talked to the mayor on Wednesday. He told de Blasio we don't have the staff to open on Monday. "You cannot open a school unless you have a teacher in every classroom." You have to increase the budget. He adds they can't just put kids in the auditoriums as that would violate safety procedures. NYC now ready to hire new teachers. News anchor asks: Can you hire 7-8000 teachers in a week? We should be able to do that according to Mulgrew.

55 positive cases of Covid-19 in schools might be higher according to the news anchor. Mulgrew responds that we did a lot of media last week on contact tracing not working and to the their credit, the city set up a situation room. He adds that we are now getting our test results back in 24 hours from tests. That's gotten better. 

Mulgrew states that the MLK Campus is not ready. Ventilation is passing all inspections in most buildings but if they turn on the heating systems that could be problematic. He then adds that private companies and independent contractors have been hired to address this.

Mulgrew then says emphatically: "Look, this is a major challenge and every other large school system ran away from it. We're not."

The news anchor asks if there is a possibility that things could go all remote. Mulgrew answers: "If the virus spikes up, yes." He adds that the infection rate of the virus is the only thing that could cause us to go all remote and that the mayor has made it very clear that he is not going to go all remote at any cost unless it's the virus itself that causes it. Mulgrew agrees with the mayor that you cannot have a substitute for in-person education. We will have safer policies than any other school system.

The rest of the conversation concerns teachers teaching out of license. Mulgrew stands up for physical education teachers. 


The main takeaway from this interview is something we've pretty much known all along: The school reopening plan is not and never was Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza's alone. It's Michael Mulgrew's too. Mulgrew is all in and is just insisting that the details are worked out so that it is safer, not safe. 

How do we pay to open schools so around half of the students can come into buildings once or twice a week? Snow day, every day basically. The Independent Budget Office on Thursday estimated the cost of opening the buildings to be an extra $32 million a week. As Living Colour said in The Glamour Boys: "Where the money comes from heaven only knows." This will become our problem when they ask us for new concessions. 

Money aside, my understanding is the majority of UFTers and at least 42% of the NYC parents prefer all remote education, not because we don't want kids back in school, but because we don't want the virus to spike again. All of the other large districts in the country have gone all remote to prevent that second wave of COVID-19. 

In NYC, most teachers and other school employees will continue to be the guinea pigs in de Blasio, Carranza and Mulgrew's experiment on whether putting a large group in school buildings will lead to a spread of this deadly coronavirus that has killed almost 200,000 Americans and one in 300 NYC residents. Starting next week, District 75 students, pre-k and 3-k students get to join in on the experiment if they so desire.

What truly baffles me is why the Unity faithful such as the Chapter Leader at Cardozo (a decent guy) who was shouting, "Teachers Vote, All Remote," aren't in open rebellion against Mulgrew? Mulgrew is admitting on live TV that he represents the mayor's position; it just has to be implemented a little better. I don't think he ever asked the membership for their opinion. Is your loyalty to Unity Caucus more important than your health and safety or do you actually buy what Mulgrew is selling? I can't understand why so many others just go along too. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

20 ADDITIONAL UFTERS JOIN UFT SOLIDARITY LED LAWSUIT SEEKING ACCOMMODATIONS TO WORK REMOTELY (Updated Saturday: Judge Transfers Case to a Different Judge)

 Oral arguments are today at noon in the case where a judge has already issued a Temporary Restraining Order blocking the DOE from forcing the original five plaintiffs from having to return to work in school buildings. 20 new people have filed affidavits to join the case. They are all seeking accommodations to work remotely from home.

Both sides submitted their written papers and answers. The concluding paragraph from Attorney Bryan Glass:

53. Given the serious safety concerns above, among the 5 petitioners and the 20 proposed intervenors who have boldly come forward out of their own pocket to publicize their severe discomfort and dilemmas (despite paying union dues) to seek safe remote teaching accommodations, these 25 educators should be afforded the same remote accommodations that 30,000 of their colleagues already have been granted by the NYCDOE since the start of the 2020-21 school year. They should not be the victims of standardless arbitrary and capricious decision making subject to the whims of unidentified nameless administrators and inconsistent application of vaguely defined rules. 

I think they have a very strong case. We will update you when we hear more.

Update: The oral arguments were heard on Friday. Judge needed more information so we worked part of the afternoon to help to update an affidavit and coordinate documentation to be submitted as exhibits. 

Outside of the court case, we heard some horror stories about teacher programs that don't adhere even slightly to the UFT Contract. I suggest people keep documenting what's going on. Put complaints in writing.

Update 2: UFT Solidarity has it on their website that the judge has transferred the case to a different judge since both sides agree that the DOE is not a city agency so since the city is not a party, the case goes to a different judge. New papers will be filed on Monday.

 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

SCHOOL BUILDINGS NOT SAFE FOR MOST STUDENTS BUT MULGREW SAYS UFTERS CAN KEEP GOING IN

 From Michael Mulgrew's latest email declaring another UFT victory:

All UFT members with in-person assignments will continue to report to school buildings next week even if they initially are providing remote instruction or services. Your eyes and ears in every school building are the key to ensuring that the safety plan is made real in every school. Please continue to be the advocates for safety in your school building.

It's not safe for most students but UFTers can keep reporting with some becoming infected with COVID-19. Mulgrew is admitting you, D75, 3-k and pre-k students are guinea pigs to make sure school buildings are safe. I guess the staff infection rates are acceptable enough for him.

The only question I have left is this:

How much more of this will UFT members keep putting up with?

Full remote until it's safe.

Teachers should not be thinking about opting out of a union but might want to contemplate how to collectively decertify the UFT and start over with a new union. We still need a union.

IN PERSON SCHOOL REOPENING PUSHED BACK YET AGAIN

 From the Mayor's press briefing:






REMOTE LEARNING SAVES LIVES

 This pretty much says it all:



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

CARDOZO HS PLANS EARLY MORNING PROTEST THURSDAY; PROTEST TODAY

 This came from a longtime friend this afternoon:

When they are ready to rebel at Cardozo High School in Eastern Queens, the DOE plan is clearly a mess. Stand up for yourselves and the students everyone.

Update: Protest today-





UFTERS DON'T HAVE TO BE THE GOOD SOLDIERS IN UNSAFE BUILDINGS; MULGREW CONTINUES TO DITHER

Your life is more important than the Department of Education. COVID-19 is a deadly virus. The mayor can downplay it all he wants but reality hasn't changed. Close to 200,000 Americans are dead from COVID-19 in around half a year. I am no scientist but it seems working in many NYC DOE buildings would be an almost ideal environment for a virus to spread. 

If you and/or your UFT Chapter do not think a building is safe, don't enter it or walk out. UFTers at schools like the High School for Economics and Finance are showing the way. They have refused to go into a building they believe is not safe. Worry later about being docked pay or losing a sick bank day if you are feeling ill. Staffers from at least 56 NYC schools have tested positive for Covid in just the first week. While Michael Mulgrew continues to put off taking action even though he says problems are systemwide (see below), the pandemic is not letting up. The custodial budgets are not going to be increased; Mulgrew says they were cut. Schools are not getting any cleaner or healthier anytime soon. How many of you honestly believe the situation will improve when the kids come in next week?

 


UFTers cannot continue being the good soldiers and just following orders if they feel it isn't safe.

Some of you are probably thinking that it is easy for me to advocate taking a hard line as a retiree. It's true I am out but when my friend Nunzio and I took on Deputy Chancellor John White in 2010 in the middle of Jamaica HS's school closing hearing (I was told I looked like Hall of Fame baseball manager Earl Weaver in one his famous tirades), we were not afraid of the DOE. A school being closed was an important injustice but it is nothing compared to your lives being put at risk. You shouldn't be in fear of the DOE just as we were not. When we were threatened, Nunzio told Deputy Chancellor White we should settle it in the parking lot. DOE administrators are people with File Numbers just like you. Many support our position. You have a right to a safe work environment. You just need to document how it is not safe. 

For the latest from Michael Mulgrew, this is from 1010 WINS:

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The president of the United Federation of Teachers on Tuesday told 1010 WINS that having a citywide postponement of school openings is not off the table.

"We haven't made that determination yet, but right now what we're seeing is systemwide problems," Michael Mulgrew said.

According to Mulgrew, the city wants to deal with a "rhetoric campaign versus a reality campaign."

Mulgrew says one of the issues they are facing is the amount of time it takes for results of COVID-19 tests.

The results take days to confirm he said.

He also noted that due to budget slashings, they are also dealing with a lack of ability to disinfect and clean every night due to custodial personnel being cut.

"You'll see teachers sitting outside of their schools because they know there's violations of safety protocols already in their building," Mulgrew added.

The UFT is following testing and tracing protocols where schools report where they are at with safety protocols, including cleaning and disinfecting, he said.

"It's really quite frustrating and angering at times," Mulgrew said.

A report will be put together this evening in order to make a determination of whether a systemwide postponement is needed.

If they feel that city does not follow the citywide safety plan submitted to the state, they will be "a fight," Mulgrew said, adding that a strike may be possible and they will be forced to "try legal remedies.