UFT News & Updates for October 27, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Nearly every week there’s been a new agreement or statement of policy on the part of the DOE.  Questions arise from the changes.  This week the DOE issued a new grading policy which I’ve posted at enyfaUFTer.net.   

Some teachers were surprised to read that for a grade of NX, which was introduced last spring, the make-up instruction and assignments can become the responsibility of someone other than the original teacher.

I’m always flattered when members expect me to be able to answer the questions that come up in our new situation. I often can’t.  In that regard I’m glad to tell you that our UFT district rep, James Hogan, will be available this Thursday at 5 o’clock for all ENYFA staff to ask questions or share concerns about recent agreements and policy.  Please consider joining us. Text me at 347-217-2219 for the meeting information.

Please note that our next ENYFA UFT chapter meeting will be November 5 at 5 o’clock via zoom.  I will send information about the meeting next week.

Back Pay from 2009-2014

Unfortunately, the mayor contradicted everything I said at our last chapter meeting about the final retroactive payment.  After the city announced its refusal to pay the final lump sum of 25 percent the UFT went to emergency arbitration.  The arbitrator approved an agreement wherein half of this amount will still be paid in the October 31 paycheck with a remainder following by July 31, 2021.

With this deal the UFT jumped ahead of other unions in offering savings to the city. It was able to guarantee no lay-offs in the current school year and possibly the next.  The 3 percent raise scheduled for May 2021 will also be left untouched.  There are several other unions who are owed back pay, including school administrators and nurses.  Other unions faced delayed raises.  Here is a summary from the Chief of how the city may press other unions for savings. 

Random Testing

The expected resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic is upon with the city averaging around 600 new cases a day over the last week.  One measure to prevent a worse spread is random testing and the protocols for this testing continue to evolve.

The target for what percentage of staff and students are to be randomly tested is different according to the zone a school is in.

Under governor Cuomo’s directives hot-spot zones replaced zip codes.  To learn what zone the school is in you need to enter location at this page.  There is currently several yellow zones in Brooklyn, north Queens and the Rockaways and a red zone that extends in Brooklyn from Borough Park to Flatlands and Gravesend.

A recent UFT communication states, “In order to meet the target numbers, the test is being offered to ALL staff in some buildings. We strongly encourage everyone to get tested when it is offered at your school building. However, unless you are on “the randomized list”, it is a personal choice.

“Once the first round of testing is completed, we will meet with the DOE to discuss any concerns that arose during the first round of testing and to refine the randomized testing process and protocols.”

A group of teachers that have been raising concerns about Fulgent Genetics the company with the contract for the testing.  However, the contract the DOE awarded to  Fulgent won seem to guarantee that any data obtained would not be used for purposes other than the testing program.

Time off for voting

November 3 is a remote instruction day.  It was designated as such as part of the delayed reopening in September.  Owing to revisions in the state’s time off to vote rules we no longer qualify.  Here is the wording:

There is sufficient time to vote if an employee has four consecutive hours to vote either from the opening of the polls to the beginning of their work shift, or four consecutive hours between the end of a work shift and the closing of the polls

Duties of Paraprofessionals

The UFT and DOE reached an agreement about working hours and responsibilities for paraprofessionals this year. Read the agreement.

(The following information is courtesy of Gene Mann’s The Organizer, gmann@optonline.net.)

What hours will paraprofessionals be working?

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.

If paras are not working directly with a specific student or class, what duties may they be asked to perform?

When paraprofessionals are not working directly with a specific student or class, they can be asked to help with tasks at the school such as assisting with arrival and/or dismissal including busing, assisting with health screening, reaching out to families or doing other administrative tasks.

My principal has asked me to report early to assist with student arrivals, but is also expecting that I stay until the end of the school day. How long do paraprofessionals have to be on site at school buildings?

Paraprofessionals are not required to stay in school buildings more than 6 hours and 20 minutes per day. An additional 30 minutes of work done remotely may also be expected to complete your day. Please let your chapter leader know if you are asked to work longer hours than what is required.

Could paras be assigned more than one student in person and/or remotely?

Nothing about the blended model allows for a child’s IEP to be changed. So, if the child is supposed to have a 1:1 para, the ratio cannot be changed to 1: 2.

Will paras have protective equipment for changing students who will be physically in attendance, including gloves, access to hot water and soap?

Yes, paraprofessionals will have all necessary personal protective equipment as will the teachers they are assigned to, and for the task they are being asked to perform.

Can a paraprofessional be directed to work with a breakout group of remote students via their own Google Meet or Zoom? Must that group include a teacher or can a para be alone with a small group of students?

A paraprofessional cannot be made to work with the group alone on their own Zoom or Google Meet. It must be under the guidance of the teacher.

How will 1:1 paras be able to keep social distancing guidelines when we work in the closest proximity to kids?

Paraprofessionals should be sure to use all personal protective equipment for the task they are asked to perform. If you have any questions, please call the UFT Safety and Health liaison in your borough:

What is the new position of Paraprofessional Classroom Manager?

The Paraprofessional Classroom Manager will manage classrooms of students while they perform independent work, eat during non-instructional lunch or participate in a remote class from the school building. Paraprofessionals who apply and are selected for the new position will receive a per-term stipend of $1,750. If no teacher is available to cover a class, a Paraprofessional Classroom Manager can cover for absent teachers. Paraprofessional Classroom Managers asked to perform more than five coverages in a term will be paid the teacher’s coverage rate.

Priority for Paraprofessional Classroom Manager positions will be given to paraprofessionals that have been admitted into the Lead Teacher Assistant pool, but who have not yet received a Lead Teacher Assistant position.

Check with the UFT for the application procedure. (212) 331-6311

Will paras have to take temperatures or supervise isolation rooms?

Paraprofessionals can be asked to help with health screenings. If a para applies for the new position of Paraprofessional Classroom Manager, they can be asked to cover isolation rooms.

Good & Welfare

Stay Safe!  See you on Thursday!

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