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: 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 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.