Monday, November 30, 2020


This email came from my daughter's middle school principal:

Students in grades 6 through 12 (outside of District 75 schools) will continue to learn remotely until further notice.

They will be closed at least until the start of the new year according to the mayor.

From the Arthur Goldstein Executive Board Minutes, we learn from Michael Mulgrew's Report that the UFT made the schools safe. Mulgrew goes into great detail about what we did to make schools ready to open without spikes in COVID-19 cases but he doesn't seem to think that most parents not choosing in-person schooling made many schools empty. We are talking about fewer than 20% of the NYC students who will be eligible to return to in-person schooling.

What about the vast majority who will still be remote? Not much of anything from Mulgrew about them in his report.  

Mulgrew also stated this on COVID-19 testing in schools:

We asked for testing on weekly basis, Consent form is now required, Of course there may be medical accommodations. 

I think there will be lots of exemptions. Here is part of that same  email I got today from my daughter's school:

Students and staff who have recently traveled outside of New York to a place on the State’s travel advisory list must quarantine for 14 days or test out of the 14-day quarantine based on the State’s guidance, which can be found here. Staff and students should continue to complete the health questionnaire daily.

 Mandatory Weekly Testing: To ensure schools remain a safe and health place to learn, all schools will have 20% of students and staff tested on a weekly basis.  Scheduling and logistics for testing will be shared with you prior to your test administration day each week      student-covid-19-testing-consent-form.pdf 

Student Consent: All students are required to provide consent for testing by December 7 or by their first scheduled in-person learning day. If a student arrives on their first day of in-person without a consent form in hand or submitted online, you must call their parent or guardian that day to collect consent immediately. Guidance to enter consent in ATS will be provided in Tuesday’s Principals Digest.

Families can submit consent using NYCSA or this updated consent form (also attached to this email). Please note that even if parents previously provided consent, we are asking them to submit again to ensure they have the updated consent form for their child that reflects the requirement for weekly testing in your school. Note that the consent form was updated on Wednesday, October 14 to reflect this change.

Students who need a medical exemption (available for all students) or disability-based exemption (available for students with IEPs) will be able to submit separate forms for approval. Principals will receive more information this week for distribution to families by Monday.

Students without consent and who do not have medical exemption or disability-based exemption will be moved to fully remote instruction.

The city, state, and union just keep making it up as they go along. Why would anyone allow any of these people to put your health at risk? 

Sunday, November 29, 2020


NYC elementary school buildings will open up on December 7 for those who previously signed up for in-person learning and of course teachers and other professionals.

From NBC 4:

After previewing the return of in-person learning ahead of Thanksgiving, Mayor Bill de Blasio returned from the holiday on Sunday to announce the scheduled return of public schools starting with elementary and special education students.

The first school buildings will reopen Dec. 7, de Blasio said Sunday. City officials plan to reopen public school buildings in a phased approach, starting with 3-K, Pre-K and K-5 students. District 75 students of all grade levels will get the opportunity to return to the classroom a few days later on Dec. 10.

The city is reopening schools in phases, in part, to make sure enhanced testing resources will be available for returning students. The mayor did not offer a timeline of reopening school buildings for middle and high school students, saying the city was not ready yet to open every school.

School buildings returning to in-person learning, wherever possible, will transition to classroom instruction five days per week, the mayor said. When the schools reopen, weekly coronavirus testing will be in effect for students and faculty.

The NY Post explains how the opening only impacts those who previously signed up for in-person learning and how if there is space, it could be five days per week. I see some possible complaints here as more parents may have signed up for in-school learning if it were for five days per week but now won't have a chance to and if they did, there would no longer be space available in many schools for the five days a week model. From the Post story:

Kids in K-5 and pre-K programs — whose parents have already signed them up for hybrid learning — can head back to classrooms because there “is less concern about the spread” of COVID-19 among younger children, while the demands of all-virtual learning on their families are greatest, the mayor said.

He added that the system is pushing for five days a week of in-person learning.

“As we open schools in phases, wherever possible, we will, in schools that have the ability, go to five day a week for instruction,” de Blasio said.

“This is the students who already were in blended learning or opted in recently.

“For any school that does have the space and ability to move to five-day-a-week in-person instruction, for those kids, that will now be the preferred model.”

As for schools not spreading COVID-19, this is a pretty balanced presentation from AAMC. A quote from an expert:

“You can only open your school safely if you have COVID under control in your community.”

Benjamin Linas, MD, MPH Associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine

Whether COVID-19 is under control in NYC, is highly questionable. 

What is missing from the Percent of People Tested Who Tested Positive category? I looked up the page they link to. It shows a 4.21 daily positivity rate and a 3.9 weekly positivity rate. The city says this: "Due to a decrease in testing volume over the holiday weekend, single day averages may not reflect citywide trends." 

It does not look to me like COVID-19 is under control but I am no scientist. 

The Washington Post printed an op-ed from Leona Win (a physician) recommending that the USA should keep most schools closed for the duration of the pandemic.

Her conclusion:

With vaccines on the horizon, fall 2021 could well herald a normal school year. For now, and at least through the winter, schools should be closed except to those who absolutely need in-person instruction: children with special needs and the most vulnerable, for whom home learning is not possible. Some schools should continue to care for children of essential workers; staff there should receive hazard pay. Other schools that want to open should meet strict criteria to ensure that they have invested necessary resources and implemented critical mitigation measures. Instead of schools closing only when there are proven outbreaks, schools must prove they’re safe before they can open.

As a physician, mother, daughter of a schoolteacher and former city health commissioner who oversaw schools, I know that in-person schooling is crucial for children’s cognitive and emotional development. But loss of learning isn’t the same as loss of life, and we cannot put the burden of society’s failures on the people who work in schools. If we truly want to prioritize children, we need to drive down community infection rates and invest in safety upgrades in schools — not jeopardize the lives of teachers, staff and their families.

I have been advocating for hazard pay for volunteers who want to staff school buildings during the pandemic. These are the latest NYC school COVID-19 statistics from the Situation Room:


We found this on Facebook, not the UFT page. Thanks to a reader for sending link for principals.

UFT/DOE Guidelines to Resolve Operational Issues

Operational issues are filed and escalated when the Blended Learning Agreement is not being followed without an approved SBO or PROSE vote. In the event there are operational issues, the first step is to try to resolve at the local level between the Principal and the Chapter Leader. Issues that cannot be resolved at the school may escalate to the Superintendent and District Representative for resolution. Failure to resolve the operational issue will result in the issue being brought to the Central Operations Committee, a group empowered by both President Mulgrew and Chancellor Carranza to resolve the issues and may result in reprogramming the school.

In some cases, the assignment/hiring of additional staff to the class may be a possible resolution in addition to or in lieu of remedies listed below.

SBO Guidance: Principals and Chapter Leaders should work together to determine if there is a resolution pathway via SBO to modify one or more elements of the Blended Learning Agreement or the standard Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Escalation protocols for specific situations are defined in the MOA and additional support is available via the FAQ.

Model Change Guidance: Schools that wish to modify the model being implemented, including adding a remote day or changing the in-person frequency, should do so via the model exception request. Effective immediately, model changes may not be done via SBO and must go through the model exception process. In cases where work condition changes are contingent on remote day exceptions, stipulations shall cite the remote day exception.


All efforts shall be made to assign teachers to a program that is exclusively of one type (in-person or fully remote or blended remote). In the limited instances where a teacher has a partial program of one type, the balance of the teacher’s program may be of another type.

Multiple Modality Issue Possible Remedies

Blended Remote & Fully Remote or Blended In-Person in elementary school & Blended Remote or Fully Remote during the same teaching period

A written resolution, or an SBO vote, or a stipulation may indicate

• remote prep during IC time, and/or

• prep during C6 time, and/or

• conducting office hours remotely outside of the school day provided the teachers communicate consistent office hours to students/families.

Fully remote class size limits apply to combined Blended & Fully Remote classes Blended In-Person in secondary school & Blended Remote or Fully Remote during the same teaching period

A written resolution, or an SBO vote, or a stipulation may indicate

• remote prep during IC time, and/or

• prep during C6 time, and/or

• conducting office hours remotely outside of the school day provided the teachers communicate consistent office hours to students/families.

Fully remote class size limits apply to combined Blended Remote & Fully Remote classes.

Blended & Fully Remote & Blended In-Person during the same teaching period

A written resolution, or an SBO vote, or a stipulation may indicate

• Pro-Rated Shortage area pay for duration of assignment, and

• remote prep during IC time, and/or

• prep during C6 time, and/or

• conducting office hours remotely outside of the school day provided the teachers communicate consistent office hours to students/families.

Fully remote class size limits apply to combined Blended Remote & Fully Remote classes.

2 or More Modalities during different teaching periods

A written resolution, or an SBO vote, or a stipulation may indicate

• remote prep during IC time, and/or

• prep during C6 time, and/or

• conducting office hours remotely outside of the school day provided the teachers communicate consistent office hours to students/families.

Fully remote class size limits apply to combined Blended & Fully Remote classes


 In general education Pre K-5, reprogram to the extent possible to avoid multi grade classes or use SBO to address.

Multiple Grade Level Classes Possible Remedy

Elementary teachers with students in multiple grades excluding properly departmentalized classes, cluster teachers, Special Education, and ESL/ENL

A written resolution, or an SBO vote, or a stipulation may indicate

• Pro-Rated Shortage area pay for duration of the assignment

Fully remote class size limits apply to combined Blended Remote & Fully Remote classes.

Any teachers assigned more than one special education program designation during the same teaching period e.g. ICT and 12:1:1

A written resolution, or an SBO vote, or a stipulation may indicate

• Pro-Rated Shortage area pay for duration of the assignment

Fully remote class size limits apply to combined Blended Remote & Fully Remote classes.


School must try to balance classes to reduce to contractual limits

Division Possible Remedy

Elementary Schools

A written resolution, or an SBO vote, or a stipulation may indicate:

1-5 students above CBA class size*: Additional preparation time as provided for teachers teaching multiple modalities (see above). If a teacher is already receiving additional preparation time for multiple modalities via an operational resolution at any level, and they are assigned a class over by 1-5 students, the teacher will receive payment for 1 coverage per week, retroactive to date of overage and for as long as overage exists.

6 students to a half-class above CBA class size: Payment for 2 coverages per week, retroactive to date of overage and for as long as overage exists.

More than half-class above CBA class size: Shortage pay retroactive to date of overage and for as long as overage exists.

*Cluster and departmentalized classes will be considered comparable to secondary school case load.

Secondary Schools

A written resolution, or an SBO vote, or a stipulation may indicate:

1-5 students above total caseload as defined in the Blended Learning Agreements: Additional preparation time as provided for teachers teaching multiple modalities (see above). If a teacher is alreaiy receiving additional preparation time for multiple modalities via an operational resolution at any level, and they are assigned a class over by 1-5 students, the teacher will receive payment for 1 coverage per week, retroactive to date of overage and for as long as overage exists.

6 students to a half-class above either CBA class size or total caseload as defined in the Blended Learning Agreements: Payment for 2 coverages per week, retroactive to date of overage and for as long as overage exists.

More than half-class above either CBA class size or total caseload as defined in the Blended Learning Agreements: Shortage pay, retroactive to date of overage and for as long as overage exists.

ADDITIONAL TEACHING PERIODS As part of the written resolution, either an SBO vote or a stipulation may indicate

Shortage area pay, pro-rated for number of periods per week (1 to 5) and pro-rated for length of assignment (above contractual limits by division)

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Our friend DOENUTS put in a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Education for the COVID-19 statistics for the NYC schools. He received numbers for February and March.  COVID-19 was all over the school system in February and early March when we were being told by the DOE and UFT to go into the school buildings. This list is not inclusive as it has been documented that COVID-19 was in Brooklyn Tech and Flushing High School. My guess is there were others that are not on the list below. The schools listed are the ones that followed the rules and filed a report in the Online Occurance Report System.

DOE's culture of secrecy and the UFT's major concern being the loss of dues, not protecting members, had deadly consequences since the DOE did not tell staff and students not to enter buildings and the UFT did not urge its members to leave. 75 school-based employees and 12 school safety agents lost their lives to COVID-19. 

In my humble opinion, the main reason multiple tragedies did not repeat themselves in the fall is that many buildings were mostly empty as the vast majority of students and plenty of staff members never set foot in a school building and many other students went in a few times and never returned. To be fair, the reporting has improved in the fall but I still don't trust the DOE-UFT and neither should you. COVID-19 was in the generally empty schools in the fall and many buildings closed temporarily. The DOE is interested in appearances and the UFT showed when they were most needed that they are more worried about protecting their dues than your lives. We need a union against this kind of employer but not this leadership.

Nobody should have to go back now until there is a widely available effective vaccine and no community spread of COVID.

To read this list, the N08 Medical means that an Online Occurance Report System (OORS) was entered for a positive COVID-19 case.


Sorry about the size. At any other size, it was hard to see the name of the school.

Happy Thanksgiving. Please stay safe. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


I came upon School Personnel lost to Covid this evening on Twitter. It really saddened me to read tragic stories of so many educators who have been taken from us by COVID-19. One of them was David Olivieri, a Western NY math teacher who died from COVID-19 earlier this month. Our thoughts and prayers are with David's family and everyone else who has lost loved ones from this horrible disease.

Please help us advocate to keep school buildings closed until there is no community spread of COVID-19 or until we can get a safe and effective vaccine widely distributed. 

Please stay safe over the holiday weekend. We don't want anyone added to this page.

Monday, November 23, 2020


President Michael Mulgrew said it was going to be the strangest Thanksgiving ever. Make sure you follow the guidance of the medical people. College kids are getting tested before leaving college and when arriving home.

We are in remote full time now. We came up with a plan in the summer on when to close. We didn't want to deal with what happened in March. Cleaning, PPE social distancing keeping schools safe. No safe plan until we pushed it. State didn't have a plan until October. State and city have different plans that both use 3% as a number. State has a lag and private tests. It comes down to how many tests are given and how many are positive. Two different numbers. State lags. Trying to get state and city to get one number. State lower now but was higher a month ago. Will we move from the 3%? That is the mayor's number. Epidemiologists we work with said that a small number of districts could shut the whole system. Mulgrew likes the state plan. State closed 200 schools in NYC. We like the yellow, orange, red zones. Yellow gets more testing. Orange goes all remote. Red zone has a problem. Nothing is working and numbers still going up. Two plans look ridiculous to the public. Members: some want to stay open if their area doesn't have much Covid-19. Others want to have closed earlier. Do we have to stay with the city plan? We wanted a geographic plan in the summer, not a citywide plan. If we have a problem in an area, we put that area in remote. We are not in control of individuals' behavior. Teachers and other staff following guidelines. Neighborhoods not safe. Doctors clear that if Covid positivity keeps rising, schools will not stay safe. There will be other challenges. We wish the city would have listened to us in August and done a geographic approach. Six or seven districts have caused us to go all remote. Yellow, orange, red is state law so that will continue. Half of Staten Island under that plan would have been remote. Decisions have to be made based on what keeps us safe. Vaccines getting better and better. Timelines moving up. 

When will we reopen? Met with doctors who volunteer for us. With travel for Thanksgiving, we expect NYC to be an orange zone. How do we contemplate opening, until we get numbers down. When we get numbers down, we can get back inside schools. Mulgrew conversations with mayor, we tell him that testing has to be mandated which is not being done. UFT position is nobody goes back without a consent form to be tested. As we see a path to an end, we don't want mistakes to cause people to be harmed. We want everyone and their families to be safe. 3% plan should not move. When we get closer to the springtime when the vaccine will be there, we have to microtarget. State plan targets problems in their infancy. All should be looking at one plan. Over 6% positivity in western New York. Schools closing all over the place. We are averaging over 10,000 tests per day. Mulgrew thanks people in the schools. Schools were safe because of our work. We can put a guidebook together on how to open schools in a pandemic. We will get reopened. Numbers will tell whether we reopen. We will follow the numbers and what independent doctors tell us.

Medical accommodations: DOE recognizing medical accommodations moving forward except for pregnancy related documentations. They want medical documentation for pregnancy related. It would be hard to get appointments exept for teledocs.

200 operational issues resolved. Team came up with a menu on how to resolve them. Chapter leaders meet with a UFT rep and a DOE rep to resolve issues. Many resolved once we came up with a menu. Some misinformation out there. Superintendents do not reinterpret things. We are all in remote and we don't know for how long. 

When Mulgrew looks at social media, we are our own world. There is nothing easy about what we are doing. We opened up. We fought for a plan. The work at home and at school is not easy. When I see people sending animosity toward other UFT members because of what they do, it gets me upset. We live in a world where we just saw a presidential election like we've never seen. We have to have civility. 12 years ago teachers were bashed for a week on NBC. We won that battle in the end. We can't let that happen. It's not easy with the oversize classes remote or coming into building and wearing a mask. We need basic respect for each other. Other mayors used to say we hate the kids. We fought through all of that. We try to do the best we can. We got medical accommodations and accommodations for caregivers. We can't do to each other what others do to us. This is for this school year. By September 2021, we go back to buildings. We have changed. Every teacher can set up electronic classrooms. We must respect each other.

Evaluations: State said it's a collective bargaining issue at the local level. We will be putting a team together to work on this. We are expecting all standardized tests to be canceled this year. Standardized tests need to be given at the same time with a licensed teacher. Administration can come in to digital classrooms. Don't waste our time filling out checklists. If it is written up, let the district rep know. There is no agreement now on evaluations. 

Budget: We worked with Comptroller Stringer to refinance debt. All unions negotiating something. Thank God we have the no layoff clause for the rest of the school year. We are in remote. People are losing their jobs in remote settings. The budget is a mess. We see no help coming from federal government until probably late January or February. We are going to have bad years. Will it be three bad years or ten bad years? It depends on how the next administration does things. Unemployment going up. Food banks are running out of food. We are looking at a horrendous winter. Teacher Center folks are working to be there with the community. We are hoping this is the last major challenge. We are expecting a vaccine mandate to work in a school but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Hopefully, we will get back when it's safe. Attendance is low. We're thinking that it is less than 350,000 students who have opted to go to school this year.

Last week we were told the teachers union wouldn't move the 3% number. The city submitted a plan. Media is so frustrating at times. Repeats that only those with a consent form get into schools. We have to respect each other. Some families going into a horrendous winter. Seeing lines and lines of people trying to get food. There is pain. We will be there to help. It's Thanksgiving, give thanks to your families and each other. We don't know how long this all remote time will last. It was expected to last a few weeks in the spring. We don't want the city to tell us on Sunday that buildings will open Monday. Hopefully, by next September, we can have a big party before schools open.


Question: Wishes Mulgrew Happy Thanksgiving. If people have not received a confirmation email, what should they do?

Answer from Mike Sill is DOE system only allows emails to go out on a rolling way. They are going out in alphabetical order. Nobody should be concerned. Except for those who are pregnant, everyone should get it. Mulgrew interjects that they can apply for family leave. Mulgrew suggests if no email comes by Monday, December 7, contact the UFT. Sill concurs.

Sill goes on to add that those who have remote programs for primary caregivers are also being extended. 

 Question: Up for tenure, what happens?

Answer: Nobody can be harmed because of Covid. That was governor's order last year. We are waiting for that to be official for this year. We will work on evaluation agreement so those up for tenure can be observed.

Question: Chapter leader beyond frustrated. Oversize class complaint filed on September 13. She has spent hours coming up with proposals. Only offer is to pay dpod teachers more money. They feel it is insulting.

Answer: You are District 3. What would you want? Hire more teachers. 

Questioner responds we should go to two cohorts. Monday should be a full remote day for everyone. Teachers have suggested picking up kids and going on remote. The principal and superintendent won't listen and labor people at DOE are downright rude.

Mulgrew Answer: We will take this up at consultation with chancellor tomorrow. No opt-in so schools should reprogram since we know how many students will be in the building. Kids are taking in-person and remote spots.

Question:  Praises Mulgrew's interviewing skills. Admires what he is doing. Proud to be a union member with him leading. 27 years and 52, hoping for a buyout. Anything in works?

Answer: It's easy when teachers do what we do. Early retirement bills in Albany. We now have an early retirement piece of legislation that we like. Many unions involved. City will save money. The legislation has to get through in Albany and then the city has to agree to implement it. Early retirement incentive makes sense. We are concerned that we won't have enough teachers and counselors but we are pushing for the early retirement incentive.

Question: Chapter leader asks since we are remote, can teachers teach remotely from buildings?

Answer: Probably no. Why would people want to do that? Questioner answer: Home environment isn't the best. When the state does remote, wants the custodian only in building. We have process when people need to pick something up. Operational people have been great. They are doing cleaning. We will ask.

Elementary schools vs high schools. High schools travel all over the city. Big difference, can that be taken into account?

Answer: We have kids going from Bronx to Staten Island. Attendance not good in high schools. District 75 and elementary schools should be open first. That is the mayor's decision. Mayor mentioned this today. Doctors would agree. D75 amount of PPE to make sure it's safe, our people have done great work. Students not hugging. PPE is the most important thing. 

Question: What happened to virtual content specialists?

Answer: We just finished it. Posting in August. DOE wanted to change it. Posting going out shortly. $12,500 stipend. Mike Sill expects it to go out tomorrow.   

Question: All should be required to test particularly with schools with high Covid positivity. What happens particularly with pre-K?

Answer: Doctors said it would be okay not to test Pre-k students. We're okay with that. We said first month it would be okay not to have consent forms. We were patient, but reports from the field that consent forms weren't coming in and kids not being sent home. That can't happen any longer when we reopen. The consent form has to be there. We should do weekly testing. Situation Room is working. Testing team from the city is really good.  Way over 500 schools shut down before we went remote. If contact tracing wasn't completed, the school shut down. Mandate means mandate. Must have a consent form to enter school. Trying to get testing weekly. New spit test has much higher validity. The minute we make a decision, there may be problems but we keep moving forward.

Question: DOE device issue, people waiting since September. Can this be addressed tomorrow?

Answer: Wrote an oped on this. DOE didn't put orders in until requests were made. On the agenda for tomorrow.

Question: 8 period day schools now 7 period days. Is there C6?

Answer: Prep was moved to the end of the day. It is still an 8 period day unless you have an SBO. Prep at the end of the day but doesn't have to be in the building. 

Question: Students in a precarious situation at home or don't have homes. How can we pressure the mayor to get permanent housing for our kids?

Answer: We have a lot of work on our hands. End of December, national non-eviction sunset. We will go to ABNY to help with food and housing. We will do great advocacy for Federal package. Next year we will have to repair social emotional damage that's been done to so many of our students, their families and ourselves. Member Assistance Program growing. We and the city have a big challenge. There are folks in our union who tell us to just do the union stuff but we are tied into the community as a teacher union. We are in this profession because children are dear to us. Our members hurting as are the students and their families.

Question: Students who never received Learning Bridge Placement. Are more being accepted?

  Answer: Yes, and we also have to consider opening up Regional Enrichment Centers which opened in the spring and stayed open right until schools opened in September. Learning Bridges has been frustrating. 

Question: Mulgrew is her superman, a rock star. This caller lost her father and others and got great support. Virtual class sizes will increase and in-person will have even lower class sizes. It took two months with over 40 students to get class cut in half. Teacher is a certified Google trainer, interested in learning specialist.

Answer: Mulgrew still has to take out the garbage. We should reprogram everything. Some schools may be able to have five day learning. Fully remote can get be fully remote then if not worrying about blended. Weakest part of DOE is instructional plan. That is a mess. DOE screwed up instructional part of reopening. They couldn't get out of their way as far as not telling schools what to do. Mayor's race, we will roll out a political action plan. The question to any candidate is how are you going to blow up the bureaucracy so schools are supported. Reprogram schools and that should take care of most problems.

Question:  Why can't we tell people school buildings will be closed through new years?

Answer: Following numbers now, we over 3% and going up steadily. Should a decision be made to keep schools remote until January? I think we should make that call as soon as possible. If we are above 4% a week after Thanksgiving, that decision has to be made. We can't open up for a day or two and then close again. Told mayor and governor that. Number is probably not going to go down. It doesn't make sense that bars and restaurants are open and schools are not. We will try to get information out there. What the questioner said makes sense. 

Question: Coming to holiday season, saving two hours a day. Blood center is low on blood. 75% of blood donations through school drives. If you have free time, donate blood. Saved my daughter's life getting blood.

Answer: You are 100% right. Nurses dealing with COVID cases rising. Blood issue is real. People are uncomfortable but it is the right thing to do to give blood. 

We will help on food; we helped with coats. We are doing what we normally do. Work with homeless coalition. Wishes everyone a great Thanksgiving. Be safe, be safe, be safe. Take care of each other; respect each other. It's tough and frustrating but we have been there taking care of each other throughout this. Thanks, be well and God bless. 


President Mulgrew's email to parents is below. Please  note that he is advocating a regional approach to reopening buildings. 

Did he ask his members how they want to proceed? Our position is the UFT should canvass to see who wants to return to working in-person quickly and move from there. Perhaps, there are sufficient UFTers who want to work in the buildings to adequately staff them for the minority of students who want in-person instruction in a pandemic.

Sunday, November 22, 2020


The numbers are in. The families of NYC by an overwhelming margin want no part of in-person schooling during a pandemic. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza gave parents a one-time-only offer in November to return to in-person schooling. We now know that only 35,000 of over 700,000 students who were all remote had their parents sign up to apply for in-person learning during the opt-in window in November. That's about 5% of the all remote students. The vast majority of parents, including my wife and me, are not buying that schools are safe. We are keeping our kids home until this pandemic is behind us. 

These almost non-existent return percentages come despite a huge propaganda campaign led by the mayor, the NY Times, the governor, other media outlets, UFT President Michael Mulgrew ("We've proven to people we can open our schools safely"), and even some activists saying that school buildings should be open in a pandemic. 

When we subtract the 6,000 who left in-person blended learning at the same time as the 35,000 signed up to go back, it means that around 700,000 students of the approximately 1 million NYC students want fully remote schooling. Even the very pro-open NY times education reporter Eliza Shapiro was left wondering about remote learning from these conclusive statistics.

The results raised urgent questions about why the city had spent so many months rushing to prepare school buildings while spending relatively little time focusing on improving remote learning. Almost all children will spend much of their time learning remotely, and about 700,000 students will spend their entire week taking online classes.

Further down:

About 60,000 children who have requested devices from the city for remote learning have not received them, and others are still struggling to connect to Wi-Fi.

Mulgrew and the Chancellor had basically no answers this morning on Up Close on Channel 7. Carranza blamed the problem with remote learning on a backlog for devices that he said was a supply problem because of so much competition with other districts. Mulgrew went on about how the DOE's instructional people left it to the schools on remote learning and how our most vulnerable students need in-person learning. 

We all knew the second wave of COVID-19 was coming. Parents saying no to in-person schooling should be viewed as a huge rebuke of the mayor, chancellor, and UFT president who have spent so much time trying to open up schools and not enough on the vast majority of families who want no part of it.  

Instead of even talking about a premature second reopening of school buildings that should never have opened in the first place, why don't the UFT and DOE make their major focus on maximizing the remote learning experience? Let's get as many students as possible to be able to successfully log onto online classes. Everyone needs a working device and wifi. How about a Situation Room for that and a map of tech needs and real widespread tech support?

Remote learning is now the mode of instruction for everyone in NYC and it will be for the vast majority of NYC families until a safe vaccine for COVID-19 is widely available, probably next spring. The mayor and UFT need to deal with that reality and not cater to a small group of vocal parents and their media supporters who want buildings to open no matter what it seems. 

Closely examine the city's own Situation Room web-page if you don't buy what most parents have figured out: Schools are not safe. There's no need to consider reopening buildings in the near term.

Sue Edelman covered the testing in schools issue today in the NY Post. 

Finally, for everyone who argues that schools are basically immune from spreading the virus, this piece from WSWS is worth a read even if you don't have a socialist bone in your body. 

Friday, November 20, 2020



November 20, 2020

The Community Education Council District 26 (CEC 26) is comprised of parents who have been elected or appointed to serve as stakeholders of the district, representing over 15,000 public sschool students. The following resolution offers CEC 26's position regarding NO CONFIDENCE ON THE NEW 


WHEREAS, the New York City Mayor did hire Richard Carranza to be the NYC Schools Chancellor on March 5, 2018; and

WHEREAS, the Chancellor's duties and responsibilities are for educating 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools. The Chancellor is also responsible for the day-to-day operations of the NYC Department of Education as well as responsible for all New York City Public Schools; and

WHEREAS, the leadership of the New York City Department of Education Chancellor is integral to the effective execution of the mission of the New York City Department of Education; and

WHEREAS, the mission of the New York City Department of Education is that every student has a right to, and is guaranteed, a free, public school education; and

WHEREAS, included in the New York City Department of Education's mission is the Equity and Excellence for All agenda that has been central to today's improved student outcomes, including the highest-ever graduation and college enrollment rates, the lowest-ever dropout rate, and rrising scores on state tests; and

WHEREAS, The Framework for Great Schools is the primary way the Department of Education partners wiith our schools and communities. There are nine elements to this framework:

1)Rigorous and Engaging Instruction

2)Supportive Environment

3)Collaborative Teachers

4)Effective School Leadership

5)Strong Family-Community Ties

6)Collaboration and Agreement with Community Education Councils and Parent Teacher Associations

7)District Wide Policies

8)School Wide Policies 


WHEREAS, rigorous instruction has been set aside to accommodate the lack oof appropriate curriculum to ensure that no student will have to repeat a year of academic instruction, as well as putting in place a grading policy that does not achieve the high standards essential to the future success of our students; and

WHEREAS, many families from homes with different languages reflective of our diverse family communities, are being left with minimal support to help their children understand and advance in their education and development; and

WHEREAS, our educators are being left with minimal and untimely guidance or tools to assist iineducating our children, therefore collaboration has been ineffective; and

WHEREAS, the guidance and policies from the Chancellor's office has been minimal due to the lack of communication, leaving our school leaders with no answers for our families and for the majority of questions posed; and

WHEREAS, due to the ongoing pandemic, families have been forced to continue the struggles faced with online remote learning as well as the everyday responsibilities and hardships they face on a daily basis as well as teaching at home. The resources and partnerships that were used for support, have been taken away until further notice. Families have been left in isolation without sufficient services for struggling students. 

WHEREAS, our Parent Teacher Associations along with our Community Education Councils, were left with many unanswered questions and without proper guidance from the Chancellor's office onovirtual meetings and how to engage our school communities using the available platforms until most recently; and 

WHEREAS, without timely guidance from the Chancellor's office, the District Offices were left with many critical and unanswered questions for families; and 

WHEREAS, without timely guidance from the Chancellor's office, both District and School Wide Policies were also put on hold awaiting further guidance; and

WHEREAS, the trust that had been formed with our school communities together with our families, has been lost. Our families can no longer rely on the New York City Department of Education to provide our children their given right to an equitable and excellent education, due to the constant breaking of promises, lack of resources, and lack of transparency made to our families. These broken promises are listed below:

●High quality Remote and Blended Instruction;

●Hiring adequate licensed personnel including but not limited to teachers, nurses, guidance counselors, social-workers, psychologists, paraprofessionals, licensed service-providers and therapists necessary for current learning models;

●Free and accessible Wi-Fi for all;

●Access and technical support to working remote learning devices, printers and accessories;

●Federally Mandated services to our special-need students; 

●A safe environment for all with adequate ventilation to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus wwithin our school buildings;

●Multiple windows for families to opt in for in blended learning;

●Guidance regarding high school admission with promise of community engagement;

●Dates for Gifted and Talented as well as Specialized High School Admissions Tests;

●Support of our English Language Learners;

●Workshops for our diverse families translated accordingly to support academic as well as the social and emotional well-being of our students;

●Lastly and most importantly, Family Empowerment and engagement. Families are listed on the Department of Education Website as The CLOSEST PARTNERS in helping our 1.1 million sstudentsthrive. Our families are at a point where they feel ignored and excluded from the ongoing conversations involving the education of their children

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Community Education Council of District 26 has no confidence in the New York City Department of Education Chancellor, Richard Carranza, to further guide the Department of Education to fulfill his duties and responsibilities to the families of the 1.1 million students enrolled within the New York City Public School System; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Community Education Council of District 26 calls on the Mayor of New York City Bill DeBlasio, to immediately dismiss Chancellor Richard Carranza, relieving him of his duties, and to find a competent candidate for this role to fulfill the duties and responsibilities bestowed upon the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education in partnership with the families of the 1.1 million students. 

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Community Education Council of District 26 calls on Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York State, to take immediate action to support and allocate resources for all our schools as a result of the failures of the New York City Department of Education as well as the failure of the New York City Department of Education Chancellor, Richard Carranza. 

This Resolution was approved on November 20, 2020 Special Meeting by a unanimous vote of members present including Adriana Aviles, Karen Rose Scutt, Cassandra Louie, Sandra Lau, John Gavros, Norman Cohn, Alan Ong, David Wong, Todd Friedman, and Dilip Nath.

Thursday, November 19, 2020


News from UFT. 

We shall see how this will play out if the vaccines are effective and available widely early next year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


 When I got on the call, President Mulgrew in his report was criticizing elected officials for lack of stimulus. Food banks running out of food. He then talked about testing vaccines. Emergency Use Authorization is coming. Top scientists doing this. If medical experts tell us the vaccine is good to go, it will be distributed. We could be in the second wave as teachers or the third wave to get it. Tough, deadly virus. Talking to doctors. The pandemic is raging out of control nationally.

State budget is terrible, city is a little better. Individual income tax is up. State is in horrendous shape. State level, we are still counting ballots. Presidential race called. State, we are still counting ballots. Andrew Gournardis now up by a thousand votes. State Senate may have a super majority. Give credit to poll workers doing the counting with masks on. There have been positive COVID-19 cases slowing down counting. Covid is Covid but we have to keep moving forward.

City-level: On the political side, most of the politics are about MLC and the city budget. We are in schools or doing phenomenal remote teaching. Food distribution budget is gone. We need to be there to help our communities. There will be food shortages, and people not being able to pay heating bill. We can use our political capital and resources to help families. It is going to be a horrible winter.

Education: Regents canceled for January. It's not possible to give a standardized test with any validity. We can't ensure validity of tests. We can't do it properly. There is no substitute for in-person education. 

Evaluations: We have guidance on teacher evaluation. Waving student learning requirement.  State has kicked it to districts to come up with an evaluation process to be collectively bargained locally. Supervisors can observe google classrooms. It cannot be used for formal evaluation until we reach an agreement. Tell supervisors to come in and then they will not want to come in. 

Medical accommodations: If a person had a chronic condition, that should be recognized. Not chronic, December 1 is what we put on the table to reapply. When we get it finalized with DOE, we will get that out to you.

COVID-19: 3% number to close NYC school buildings came from the city. We believe targeting a geographic area is a smart way to do it. We were fighting for PPE, electrostatic cleaning, and testing. State had set a number of 5% for closing a school district. People who wanted schools closed in the summer now want to keep them open. We said we wanted to get schools open but if the community positivity rate goes higher, we can't keep schools open. Members emailing us that if their community doesn't have high Covid-19 numbers, why close? DOE instructional people missed the chance to have better remote instruction. The DOE left it to individual schools. We're closing schools on a daily basis. State closed more schools than the city. Numbers in the last two weeks went up, more and more school buildings closed. 114 schools closed last week. We are following the plan. The finish line is in sight but we've got to get through the winter. Doctors petrified about Thanksgiving. It depends on what goes on in local areas. Safety has to be first. We are not going remote permanently. We have to double down as we move forward. To reopen, we will push the city to be more aggressive with testing to get us through these next couple of months. I don't want us to stumble. If you want schools open, we have to do this together. Everyone has to wear a mask and social distance. Thanksgiving is hard. Hopefully by July 2021, we rejoice.  

Staff Director's Report:

Leroy Barr reported on winter coat drive. Chapter Leader weekend workshops going from now through January. We celebrated SRP's yesterday. CTE high school fairs from November 19 through December 5. Happy Thanksgiving.

Question Period:

Question: Testing doesn't seem random. People not being tested are not being sent home. Are you aware of this?

Mulgrew Answer: Mayor keeps saying testing is mandatory, but this isn't happening. Conversations with the mayor, chancellor and CSA president, our position is students can't come back in without the consent form to be tested. We have to be diligent. We don't want anyone else getting seriously ill. If administrators are not doing it because they don't want to have a discussion with parents,  we're always trying to make it better for kids. We are on top of this.

Question:  Clarify about medical accommodations?

Answer: After December 1, would have to get doctor's note again but why put people through this if they have chronic conditions. Mike Sill asked DOE people if they could process so many applications.

Question: In-person attendance very low, her high school only had 4, can we go fully remote or allow those that want to come in to come in every day?

Answer: Numbers are the numbers. We know what has worked and hasn't worked. Creating a period of time to make adjustments. High schools have very low attendance. Remote learning is easier for them. Some are socializing around the buildings. Some of the blended stuff can be altered. We are solving operational issues. Meetings will be settling complaints.

Question: Do nurses have to come into buildings tomorrow?

Answer: We don't know yet. We will get the information out as soon as we have it. School nurses have been phenomenal throughout the pandemic. Thank them.

Question: Budget, school given a budget based on projections. The school lost 100 students. Do they have to give back money?

Answer: At this moment, they have not taken money away. We have a consultation with the chancellor next week, we will get answer. Some schools set high numbers and have to adjust. We will get information out to chapter leaders and delegates.

Question: Parents and students having trouble responding to third party software on DOE devices, 60,000 still don't have devices, how is DOE remedying this?

Answer: Has anyone from DOE called to support you? No. Mulgrew will reach out to the district rep. Tech support from DOE is horrible. DOE trying to work on this. Kids hand writing assignments and then taking pictures and submitting them. We will try to find a resolution.

Question: CTLE hours. State suspended requirement for this year. Do people have to meet deadlines or have they been pushed back?

Answer: Mary Vaccaro says that if timeline is up by the end of this year, they need to do the hours. We have enough online courses to meet the needs of members. State might still waive hours. Mulgrew: Get the classes done. This is legislation as is evaluation. 

Question: Sites being used as 3-k, pre-k and learning bridges. Are they still open?

Answer: Learning Bridges still open. It is a child care program that is quite heavily used by our own members. The program is for essential frontline workers. Learning Bridges will run while we are in remote. Wear masks and be safe.

Question: Tenure process-Have there been any changes for this year?

Answer: Last year, people were granted tenure. State has said that nobody should be harmed because of COVID-related issues. Hoping to have the same resolution as we had last year. 

Karen Alford interjects that Learning Bridges will not be open for Thursday, November 19 including pre-k centers that include Learning Bridges. Learning Bridges outside of pre-k centers will be running.

Question: Mobilize union for two Georgia Senate runoffs?

 Answer: We have a great relationship with AFT Georgia. AFT taking lead and we have offered the Retiree Chapter to be a support system. Working hard with Georgia Teachers Association. They don't want us to be carpetbaggers. We will be doing a lot. Many of our members not political activists. Very, very important election.

Question:  What's the timeline as far as schools reopening?

Answer: No matter what we do, there's going to be a problem. Every decision has problems. If we could make it smooth, of course we would. We're in remote for a period of time. Hopefully, we get the numbers down. If our members are in geographic zones where COVID is growing, shut down but if it isn't growing, why should it be closed.

Motion period

Motion to reimburse members working remotely for having excessive students caseloads. For next month. Students being added continually. 86 in a class instead of 33. Teachers with over 200 students on their caseload. Operational complaints are backlogged. We should get paid for these oversize caseloads. Works in IS 24. 

Mulgrew: In operational template, this is already there. If it is a motion, it opens it up to collective bargaining. Will check with legal folks if this is legal. It could be moot.

Speaker against says this is divisive between remote and in-person teachers. No talk of hazard pay for teachers who go to buildings so remote teachers should not get extra money. 

68% voted to put it on next month's agenda; 32% voted no.

Mulgrew said that the division between remote teachers and those working in buildings is something we need to own. There should be no animosity toward each other. DA said we had to fight for medical accommodations as the first priority. We are all frustrated and it's tough. It is hard for everyone but please no animosity. News is all negative but we have to be better than some of what we see on media.


Black Lives Matter resolution. Leroy Barr motivates support for BLM. UFT supports BLM week of action. Support 13 principles of BLM including restorative justice. It is comprehensive and we support it.

Next speaker supports it as a member of the Unity Caucus to affirm Black Lives Matter in our schools. It's the opportunity of a lifetime. Read the 13 principles. Proudly and unapoligetically support this movement. 

Dermot Myrie of MORE thanks President Mulgrew and vice presidents. Hopes it can be unanimous today.

No speaker wants to speak against. 

Resolution passes 90% yes-10% no.

Endorsement for Julie Menan for District 5 City Council seat in the Democratic primary. Nobody wanted to speak against.

Resolution passes 93% yes-7% no.

Resolution calling for justice for George Floyd.

VPHS Janella Hinds motivated it. Another Delegate spoke in favor to say UFT is in solidarity with protestors. Another Delegate says we can't criminalize being African American. 

 Resolution passes 87% yes-13%no.

Resolution in support of librarians. Elementary school VP Karen Alford motivated it. Must work with NYSUT to mandate full time librarians in every school. Another librarian speaks in favor. 

Resolution passes 96% yes-4% no.

Mulgrew wishes all a Happy Thanksgiving. Medical community afraid of Thanksgiving. If you are going to gather with family, get tested a day or two before and wear your mask. Don't gather in large numbers. Connect on Zoom.



Dear Colleagues,

This has been an eventful and challenging year on so many levels. With your efforts and contributions, our school buildings have been safe places for teaching and learning for hundreds of thousands of students over the past several weeks. To date, we have seen a COVID-19 positivity rate of only 0.19 percent out of more than 120,000 students and staff tested. This has been a reassuring sign that our schools are safe, and we are grateful for the tireless work you do to ensure this is possible.

As you are aware, the City as a whole is experiencing elevated rates of COVID-19 transmission. As you may recall, last summer we established a threshold as a school system for closing school buildings and temporarily transitioning to fully remote learning: a 3% COVID-19 test positivity rate in New York City using a 7-day rolling average.

As of this morning, the City has now reached this threshold of test positivity citywide and, as a result, the DOE will temporarily close down all public school buildings, effective Thursday, November 19. This action, along with other city-wide measures, is a key component to address the concerning rise in COVID-19 transmission rates. This closure of buildings is temporary; we will work diligently alongside other City agencies and every New Yorker to bring this transmission rate back down and get back to in-person learning as quickly and as safely as possible.

Despite this temporary closure, our important work continues: learning must go on five days per week, fully remotely for all students for a brief period of time. Our students and families are counting on all of us - whether we work at schools or in central and field-based offices - to support them as they transition to fully remote learning. To guide us, we have sent a communication to principals with information on school-based operations as we temporarily transition to fully remote learning, and school-based staff should reach out to their principals with any questions specific to their school. Our community-based early childhood programs, family child care programs, and Learning Bridges sites will remain open to continue serving children and families in-person.

While school buildings will be closed temporarily for in-person instruction, staff will be able to access their buildings. Certain staff, such as School Safety Agent(s) (SSA), Custodians, Skilled Tradespeople, and School Food employees, and others will be required to be on-site at DOE buildings. Other school-based staff members will have access to their school building to ensure that certain functions are performed during the temporary system-wide remote period, such as delivery and pick-up and distribution of devices and other learning materials. Please discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding your work location with your principal or supervisor. Further information, including guidance for specific employee groups such as substitutes and re-deployed staff, can be found on the Coronavirus Staff Update InfoHub page.

Our DOE community has been our greatest asset at this time of crisis, and we will continue to support every one of you as public health conditions continue to evolve. We know that for many of you, our staff, and our students and families, a transition to fully remote instruction – even for a brief period of time – is challenging to hear. But we’ve faced these challenges before and are prepared for any situation that comes our way.

New Yorkers have proven they are ready and willing to do the collective work to fight back this virus, our school system being an important part of that effort. We are relying on every New Yorker to do all they can in bringing our transmission rates down. This means maintaining the “Core Four” every day: wash your hands, wear a face covering, keep six feet of distance from others, and stay home if you’re feeling sick. We will closely monitor our citywide health indicators every day and keep you informed on next steps when we are able to return to in-person instruction.

Thank you for continuing to ensure our children have the best educational experience. Again, we are so grateful for your tireless efforts.

In unity,


Tuesday, November 17, 2020


 RBE just lays out the reality that NYC is once again a COVID-19  hot spot.


There seems to be some positive news on the labor front from President-elect Joe Biden. 

This is from CNBC:

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden hosted a joint meeting Monday with labor union leaders and the chief executives of major tech, retail and auto companies.

The business leaders at the virtual meeting were General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Microsoft president and CEO Satya Nadella, Target chairman and chief executive Brian Cornell, and Sonia Syngal, CEO of Gap.

Biden said later that he told the CEOs, “I want you to know I’m a union guy,” adding “that’s not anti-business.”

“Unions are going to have increased power [in a Biden administration],” Biden said. In response, Biden said the CEOs just nodded.

Labor leaders present for the meeting were AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union; Rory Gamble, president of the United Auto Workers; Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

In Washington DC, they say personnel is policy so who will Biden pick for the Secretary of Labor? 

This is from Politico:

Union leaders are hoping to influence Joe Biden's pick for Labor secretary — but they're increasingly at odds over who should get the job.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and some of his organization’s largest affiliate unions are singing the praises of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who previously led the city’s Building and Construction Trades Council and could appeal to construction workers who supported President Donald Trump. But other unions in the federation are publicly pushing Rep. Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat who worked as a labor organizer and ran the state’s job training program before he was elected.

Those two names look much better than Eugene Scalia, who is President Trump's current Secretary of Labor. This is how the New Yorker described Scalia's handling of coronavirus:

As the coronavirus has overrun America, Scalia’s impulse has been to grant companies leeway rather than to demand strict enforcement of safety protocols.

On April 28th, Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., sent Scalia a letter accusing the Department of Labor of forsaking its mission. Even as millions of workers were risking their health to perform jobs deemed essential, osha had done little more than issue a modest list of voluntary safety guidelines. Trumka demanded that Scalia impose emergency temporary standards that would require companies to follow specific rules to slow the spread of covid-19, such as providing employees with personal protective equipment and adhering to social-distancing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control.

Scalia’s response was polite but unyielding. “Correspondence such as yours can help us do our jobs better,” he began, but then insisted that Trumka’s complaints were riddled with “basic misunderstandings.” Imposing emergency temporary standards was unnecessary, Scalia wrote, because osha already had the authority to penalize irresponsible companies under the General Duty Clause, which requires employers to create an environment “free from recognized hazards.” This was the basis for osha’s actions against SeaWorld in 2010—notwithstanding the objections Scalia lodged at the time, which were so strenuous that Judge Rogers asked him at one point if he believed that “the agency, under the General Duty Clause, has no role to play.” The clause has played little role lately, Trumka told me. Since the pandemic began, osha has received more than ten thousand complaints alleging unsafe conditions related to the virus. It has issued just two citations under the General Duty Clause.

So why again is there no talk of a general strike in this country?

Monday, November 16, 2020


NYC school buildings will be open on Tuesday for blended learning. Upward revisions of numbers from the previous day has most of skeptical that any numbers are real but we are still officially below the 3% positivity rate. I have no trust in this mayor. Here is the latest from Gothamist:

New York City's seven-day average test positivity is now at 2.8% as coronavirus cases reach their highest level since May, according to city health data updated on Monday.

The latest data shows that the city remains precariously close to 3%, the threshold at which Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he would shut public schools and shift completely to remote learning.

Health officials on Monday also revised the prior day average positivity reading upward to 2.9%. The city's test data is routinely changed as more results roll in, and a surge in demand for testing marked the return of long lines at many clinics around the city and longer turnaround times.

Given the delays in results, Dr. Denis Nash, an epidemiology professor, cautioned New Yorkers to wait several days before interpreting the data.

"Backfilling of data can really change the metrics," he told Gothamist on Monday.

Trends over the weekend had suggested that the share of residents testing positive for COVID was starting to decline or at least flatten, but now the trajectory seems to be unclear.

Nash pointed to the fact that average new daily cases were continuing to climb. On Monday, the seven-day average of new cases reached 1,057, a level not seen since May and nearly double that of the city's warning threshold of 550 average cases a day.

Sunday, November 15, 2020


We got in writing that COVID-19 testing for students is not mandatory. Results of what is not random testing can't be taken to show that COVID-19 is not widespread in schools. 

I copied below part of the letter announcing that COVID-19 testing is coming this week to the middle school my daughter attends. The letter confirms that the testing is voluntary and not random for the small percentage of students who show up for in-person learning. (2.57% NYC positivity rate so buildings are open for the few who attend for another day at least on Monday.) My daughter is all remote by the way.

DATE______November 13, 2020

Dear Families, 

As part of New York City’s ongoing effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, and ensure the health and safety of our community, COVID-19 testing of staff and students will be conducted in our school once a month from now through the end of the school year. We have been notified that the testing provider will be at our school within the next week. Please note that only New York City public school students from grades 1-12 are eligible to be tested.

Further down:

Only students and school-based staff members with signed and submitted consent forms are eligible to be tested ( Your child will not be tested if they are uncomfortable or become distressed at any point during the process. If that happens, we will work with you to address any potential concerns so that your child is comfortable participating in future testing. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020


I am very sad to report the passing of Gerson Urgiles, who was a student in my class in the last year I taught at Middle College HS. His family is naturally devastated; our thoughts and prayers go out to them. They are in need of financial help.

 A GoFundMe page has been set up. Please donate.

It is with great sorrow in our hearts we sit here and write this.

On Wednesday November 11, 2020 at 9:30pm the Urgiles-Argudo family lost the most marvelous soul. In a tragic and fatal accident on the I-95 in Norwalk, CT,  our beloved Gerson Urgiles of just 18 years lost his life when the car he traveled in struck a tractor trailer. Gerson was traveling back home with his older brother Kelvin, 24, and younger brother Michael, 15.

Kelvin Urgiles, driver, sustained minor injuries and is thankfully recovering from his physical injuries. He has a fractured neck, broken wrist, dislocated finger required staples on his head and underwent 2 surgeries.

Michael Urgiles, front passenger, suffered minor injuries and is thankfully recovering from those physical injuries.

Gerson Urgiles, backseat passenger, impacted the windshield and was pronounced dead at the scene. Gerson was a loving and caring brother, cousin, friend, and a spectacular son. He loved photography, music, and fashion. The day before the fatal accident he went to take his high school graduation pictures which he was so excited for. He had his whole life ahead of him and an infinite amount of love left to give and receive.

Thank you,

The Urgiles Family

A special thank you to Omar Flores. May God continue to bless you and your loved ones.

Friday, November 13, 2020


One question before I post the email: Is the news that NYC schools are going all remote possibly as early as Monday "disheartening" to all of you as President Mulgrew says?

Dear _________,

As New York City confronts a second wave of coronavirus infections, Mayor Bill de Blasio may make all schools remote in New York City as early as next week.

Before you leave work today, make sure you have all the equipment and supplies you need to work remotely from home in case we are remote on Monday.

Under the state-approved safety plan that we hammered out with the mayor in early September, all city schools must automatically go fully remote if the citywide positivity rate on virus tests is equal to or greater than 3%, using a rolling seven-day average. The city's seven-day rate has crept up to 2.83%, the mayor said this morning.

A citywide shift to all-remote learning would be temporary. Just as the numbers will dictate when school buildings should close, school buildings would reopen when the numbers improve.

I know this news is disheartening since we have done a phenomenal job of keeping school buildings safe and our students, especially our youngest, have loved the in-person interaction with staff. Public schools are among the safest public places in New York City thanks to the safeguards in the safety plan we insisted upon as a condition for reopening — and your vigilance in ensuring that these safety protocols are followed in every school.

But schools are not an island. Epidemiologists warn this second wave is bound to infiltrate our schools. As hundreds of thousands of students, parents and staff crisscross the city on public transportation, schools would become the connection points to spread the virus through all the city’s neighborhoods.

We have a safety plan endorsed by independent medical experts, and we must stick to it. That is how we keep our school communities safe.

We'll send you a text message as soon as a decision is made. Sign up at to get the early alert.


Michael Mulgrew

UFT Presient

Thursday, November 12, 2020


We said it's time to shut the NYC school buildings down yesterday while COVID-19 is on the rise. Waiting for the almost inevitable 7 day average positivity rate to be 3% before closing buildings could very well needlessly cost lives. We are in the second wave of this pandemic. Contrary to the NY Times, COVID-19 is spreading in 3/4 empty NYC schools. This is from the NYC government on COVID-19 in NYC schools.

Red dots represent schools closed due to multipleCOVID-19 cases in those school buildings.

For those who prefer raw numbers to dots: 

The UFT position is for teachers keep windows open for ventilation and to bundle up as the temperature falls. From Michael Mulgrew:

Bring in fresh air: How wide or how many windows should be open will differ with each room design and the comfort level of the occupants. In general, if your classroom or office has operable windows, keep the windows and doors open. All windows do not necessarily have to be wide open, especially when it is raining, snowing or extremely cold outside. Windows should be open as wide as is comfortable for the occupants. Also, dress in layers and bring additional warm clothes for yourself. Be sure to also remind students (and the parents of younger students) about the importance of dressing warmly for school.

Here is some advice for teachers from Teegan Burke on Twitter:

We need a real union and we also need members willing to put the pressure on the mayor to close school buildings before more students and staff become ill. I will say it yet again that my advice is to stay home if you don't think it is safe. Don't worry about your CAR. We'll figure out later about getting days back.

Reality Based Educator gets the last word:

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Dear Mr. Mulgrew:

It has come to our attention that principals across the NYC DOE have been distributing a new framework of Danielson for evaluation of pedagogues. Since IPCs have not been happening we find this very troubling. The Danielson Framework for teacher evaluation is part of State Education Law, the new framework which adds on additional components for evaluation is UNLAWFUL and INSIDIOUS.

We seek to demand that the UFT reject any framework or rubric that purports to measure teacher effectiveness in a remote setting. There is no sound basis in theory or practice for using one, and to say that there are known “best practices” for remote learning when it hasn’t been developed and practiced for a full year, and only under the extenuating circumstances of a pandemic, is inappropriate and needlessly adds to the stress and confusion that teachers are already under in these unprecedented times. Most building administrators have no experience in teaching or evaluating teaching in an online setting. Any framework or rubric that purports to accurately gauge teacher effectiveness in an online setting cannot possibly be based on pedagogical research because such research simply does not yet exist for this scenario.

Adding an arbitrary, untested framework/rubric to an already confusing mix of ever-changing DOE directives regarding online schooling,  will do nothing but cause confusion and add stress for all stakeholders. There is no sound pedagogical reason for doing so, and any idea that this absurd practice will in any way support or help teachers is completely misleading and disingenuous.

The UFT has been silent on this. We need you to take a firm stance in opposition to this unsound and damaging proposal.


The UFT Solidarity Caucus 


We have been against the reopening of school buildings from back in the summer when we knew COVID-19 was not going away and a second wave was probably eventually going to come to NY. Why risk it? Close the school buildings now. It was rather naive to think we could escape a second wave. The city spending God knows how much money for school buildings to open what are in large part phantom schools, while largely not working to improve remote learning, may not have been a wise investment. Here are the NYC COVID-19 numbers for the schools from The NYC Situation Room:

Now for the NYC COVID-19 numbers from the NY Times:

Are the so called leaders who run NYC and NYS (de Blasio and Cuomo respectively in case you have forgotten) going to wait until the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths start to spiral out of control before they shut down school buildings and major parts of the economy? They waited too long in the spring. Will they repeat that error in the fall? I hope not, particularly with an effective vaccine possibly on the horizon. 

I fully understand a national approach would be a better idea to attack COVID-19 (you may want to give Biden's task force a little credit here) but it looks like the current President is too busy filing lawsuits that might if successful overturn literally a few votes so we are left to mostly fend for ourselves in the states.

Most learning In NYC is remote. I read Michael Mulgrew's op-ed in the NY Daily News yesterday along with his recommendation that teachers and students bundle up. He starts his Daily News piece off with a boast about schools in NYC being reopened.

Unlike virtually every other major American urban area, it managed to safely re-open its school buildings, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

More than a quarter of a million students — most on staggered schedules — and thousands of teachers have returned to schools under strict safety guidelines, including social distancing, obligatory masks, and mandatory virus testing.

Despite fears of schools increasing exposure to the virus, testing in schools has so far shown remarkably low infection rates, while in-school students are getting the benefit of the small classes made necessary by social distance guidelines.

So far, the logistical and safety challenges of re-opening schools have been met. But despite enormous efforts by teachers, remote learning — something more than 540,000 kids now rely on all the time, and the rest rely on all or part of the time — is still lagging.

He then goes on to say that we need to improve remote learning:

To ensure remote instruction provides children what they need, the DOE needs to better support school communities in two critical ways: getting (and keeping) working technology into all students' hands, and providing the necessary staffing and professional training to make remote learning more effective.

Good ideas, but I have a question for the President: If more than a quarter-million are in hybrid (many not showing up) and something over 540,000 are in fully remote learning, where are the rest of the kids?

The Department of Education numbers reveal that there are  1,126,501 students of which 119,000 are in charter schools so Mulgrew's numbers don't add up. There are plenty of missing students.

This is not good news. Funding for schools is based in large part on how many students there are. Reaching out to families is important. Some who comment here can knock the kids all they want but ultimately educating them is the school system's job. We need to find them somehow to attempt to educate them. I fully understand why the DOE is trying to spin the numbers as best as they can. Fewer students lead to huge budget cuts. Those cuts won't be absorbed at Central DOE but in the schools probably.   

In the end, so many of those in charge mostly blowing off remote learning to concentrate on the comparitively smaller number who went to buildings might be looked back on as a huge mistake. The powers that be have a chance to fix this while stopping some people from getting COVID-19 in the process. I have no confidence they will.