Wednesday, March 11, 2020

UFT DA March 11, 2020 Let's Be Careful Out There

UFT President Michael Mulgrew welcomes us. 4:20

Mulgrew speaks of people watching online due to emergency resolution. Says we will work our way through this. In the end, we are UFT and work our way through everything.

Point of Information—Mike Sill—Would like to do away with staff director report and motion period to extend question period 15 minutes.

Point of Information—Do we have a quorum?

LeRoy Barr—We can make motions, pass them, and ratify at next meeting.

Mulgrew—We can do the business, but any vote is not official until there is a quorum.

Speaker—Seems like we can do whatever we want, then.

—Saying we can revote them when we have a quorum. Cannot do whatever we want. We have a motion to extend question period or leave agenda as is. We can vote on things but nothing is union policy until we have quorum. We can vote but it is not official. This is an unprecedented situation.

Do you wish to extend or leave agenda?

Question period extended.

Mulgrew—Let’s start with simple rules—forget kissing, hugging and hand shaking. Everything I say can change, we are getting new policies. The thing that’s disturbed me, we are monitoring, and people will get upset, but our ability to get testing done is frustrating. Not true anyone who wants can get a test. This has been an issue. Country completely unprepared for crisis.

We are hoping this will turn corner this week. Early this AM federal health official said anyone who wanted a test could get one. Have not had positive test in NYC school, but that is a matter of time.

We have a standard state closing policy. Any school with positive result must be closed minimum 24 hours. Medical investigation will take place and local department of health will decide if and when school is reopened.

Parent teacher conferences at middle and high schools will be done remotely by phone or computer. Closing schools is on the table, we believe individual schools will be closed. Trying to limit problem.

All meetings and events now postponed. Para fest, Herstory, and Lobby Day canceled. We have over 1000 registrants. We all eat lunch together. Very nice, but if someone is confirmed COVID 19 we have issue with 1000 people, and 1000 schools. To mitigate risk, we need to stop large scale meetings.

If parents are confirmed on parent teacher night, this is problematic. Trying to be smart, strategic, follow advice of scientists and doctors.

Yes, I know there were issues in schools. However, if they choose to use own phone or computer they can do it from home or wherever they deem appropriate. Yes you are allowed to do it, and so are high schools.

In terms of our movement, we want to go over policies, absences, timekeeping.

If sick, stay home. Call doctor if you have coughing, shortness of breath, fever or sore throat. Otherwise, stay home and call doctor. Wait until you’re fever free 72 hours.

If you’re sick at work, go home. Inform admin. If student not feeling well, send student to nurse or clinic. There will be an isolation room.

DOE has been responsive about providing medical gowns, face shields, gloves and face masks for anyone feeling sick. People masked will wait and go home.

If confirmed case, location closed at least 24 hours until reopened. Will not count in CAR. For extended time, or required to self-isolate or quarantine, as determined by doctor, must be placed on doctor’s note, will not count on CAR.

If you have underlying chronic condition, you may ask for medical accommodation. If doctor says you should not be coming to school, you need to get that note to a school. More info to come on that—we are working on it. Contact and speak with supervisor.

If your own child’s school is closed, right now we only have 3 CAR days. DOE has agreed to a “reasonable number of days.” No disciplinary action will be taken against anyone due to absences tied to this crisis. We are trying to make these non-attendance days. Governor and Senators working on this. Included in federal stimulus package, ongoing.

If you are told you have to be tested, you can either be tested or quarantined. DOE employees cannot refuse this.

Travel—Health care, education officials may not travel to certain zones while doing work for the city. If you go of your own accord, employer can tell you you must self-isolate 14 days and either not pay or take from your CAR.

Learning—Working with DOE to have schools prepare if they do close. Nobody knows how closing will affect school days yet, but we want students to continue learning during an extended closure.


Q—Told principal about parent-teacher. Superintendent was unaware about high schools.

Mulgrew—Will be notified shortly. DOE sent only to middle but HS covered too.

Q—School trips to museums—I canceled my trip for next week due to tourists. Will DOE put out restriction?

A—I don’t think decisions about health crisis should be made at school level. We are canceling UFT events because we don’t want ripple event. We recommended to DOE these should be postponed. We also oppose citywide PD at this time.

Q—Since we have all these statements, our building hasn’t gotten equipment yet, only children’s masks, principal ordered hand sanitizer, wipes, and it’s back-ordered and canceled.

A—Email me and Ellie Engler. We will sent it to DOE operations.

Ed Olmstead
—Children’s masks are in case child is sick and has to be isolated. Others are for nurses to be protected. May also be adult in isolation room. Not intended for all staff.

A—They go from small children to adults in D75.

Olmstead—Should work for most. One size.

Q—Cleaning—spoke with custodian, says one extra hour not nearly enough time.

A—Will go to DOE and speak with custodian’s union.

Q—DOE suggests we open windows. In my school, windows don’t open and ventilation isn’t good enough to regulate temperature.

A—School has to have ventilation system, needs to be major air exchange.

Q—S Bronx big asthma cluster. Problem for my students. What’s being done?

A—Many medically fragile children. Great concern if there is a confirmed case. That’s why DOH now determines whether or not school stays open. Tough to close a school, but we’re dealing with crazy info right now. We get conflicting info but must focus on people with underlying conditions. There is no policy that will be perfect, but proud we figure it out.

Q—If you have no days and child’s school is closed, what do you do?

A—We believe DOE is receptive toward these situations. Hoping for more liberal policy of borrowed sick time. Almost every situation you can bring up is already on the table.

Q—What happens after student or staff member is removed? Will we be informed?

A—Laws say student names and adult names are not shared. However, confirmed cases require notification. Right to personal health care info will be guarded at all times.

Q—NY Post published article, DOE official said exploring remote learning capabilities. If we were to do that, does DOE have infrastructure to do that?

A—We do have individual classes that do that. We are nowhere near capacity to do that for school system. We hope schools are working toward solutions.

Q—Not every child has internet.

A—We understand. That’s why we are not prepared to do online learning as a city.

Q—Great to see there is attention paid to staff who may have immune system issues. If there is a plan, will staff member be able to apply as concerned, or will there first have to be COVID 19 case for medical accommodation?

A—They should do it beforehand. Very helpful if medical professional will document they shouldn’t be in school setting.

Q—Real concern for students who are Asian American and being targeted or bullied due to associations in certain sectors. Are there discussions going on to deal with this?

A—Happy to report both governor and mayor have said it has to stop. We are educators, there each and every day, and we need to teach why you don’t do these things. Maybe we can use this as a learning opportunity. We will support you if you want to do this in your classes. Doing all in our power to support students. We need to say enough, stop it. Let us know if there’s an issue.

Q—DOE link for Corona Virus doesn’t work. What about protocols for isolation room? We were told first call security, they will call AP, who will call isolation room….

A—Make us aware of these practices. We want them as simple as possible. That is not protocol that was put out.

Q—We work in multiple sites. If staff member is diagnosed, will all sites be closed?
A—DOH, I assume, would say yes, if worker went to multiple sites. We have CSE sites with only adults. If you feel sick and there is no nurse, call and go home.

Q—Hearing about underlying conditions. Does that include people who are pregnant?

A—We are still talking about this and we need something on it. We are placing pregnancy info workshops as webinars. Haven’t got an answer right now. We are clear if school has confirmed case, but pregnant women can get a doctor’s note and apply for accommodation.

Q—Is DOE going to continue having parent engagement on Tuesdays, or will this be done via computer?

A—Looking at time to see how we can use it differently, since we did it with conferences it’s logical, but they haven’t made agreement yet.

Q—Anything from NYSED on tests?

A—No, thus far. There have been conversations. New Rochelle closed for two weeks. NYC already said absences cannot be part of criteria for admissions. This question has been asked all over state and we are waiting. If school is closed, because  of virus, what will we do? Waiting on state. We also don’t know how attendance will be.

Q—Underlying conditions and teachers immuno-compromised is urgent issue. Does DOE understand?

A—I will say yes on that. People are concerned. There are now more and more issues in countries that have been dealing with this. Apply for medical accommodation.

Mulgrew resumes report—State budget shortfall. We won’t be lobbying Monday. Will as to ramp up social media lobbying. Fear is that because of this crisis, bad budget may get passed and we will be stuck with it.

Census starts tomorrow. If you don’t want people knocking at your door, fill in online now. We have until August 1st. Thanks volunteers. After crisis, we will push out material. NYC and state lost billions due to our miserable performance. NYC committing 40 million, state 20 million.

National—May not do resolutions today. Pushes for both candidates. Both of them have always been there for public education. If people want to push, fine. Do not believe it’s in our interest to disparage either. Can tell you Joe Biden has been friend and supporter of national ed. Bernie has moved conversation to where it should’ve been ten years ago, Health care, student debt, needs to be part of platform.

We want states to engage like they haven’t before. In the end, we have to win. We know we have no friend in DC. We look for best interests of profession, of workers trying to care for families, and who can actually get elected. It isn’t one or the other. We know we have people who support current president. Current policy not working for us, they don’t believe workers should have rights at all. Right now both candidates have clear phenomenal education programs.

Sanders has pushed people to a place they were not comfortable before. There is a resolution we may not get to do, and that may not matter. Please advocate for your candidate by what they’ve done, not by tearing down the other.

Curriculum project
—Trying to do as much as possible by phone. DRs will be doing phone in meetings.

We have always taken care of NYC school system and always will. Mulgrew thanks us.

Q—On presidential endorsement process—

A—We don’t do presidential endorsement process. AFT will. Has changed process, because wanted more engagement. Many resolutions that come before this body come through Exec. Board.

Q—What will proposed process look like?

A—It was that UFT would pass a resolution saying whoever final candidate is we would work with passion and energy to achieve goal, and that we would move up DA for endorsement—was only for Democratic primary. It will not be passed today. We don’t have a quorum. More concerned with corona virus right now.

Q—What can principal ask member about health status? Can principal require testing?

A—No. Person who can require this would be Dept. of Health. Probably is violation. Send to LeRoy Barr. If you are leaders, you have to set the tone.

Q—Our school shares with Success Academy. If someone had virus at one of their schools, how would we be notified?

A—They’re in the building and DOE can require same protocols. DOE can ask for schools to be closed on their own and charter may choose to close. If it’s colocated they have to follow same directives.

Q—Longterm subs, paras or teachers—Are they covered if schools are closed?

A—And will that interrupt toward Z status? We are working on that, have discussed it.

Q—Timekeeping powerpoint, can we have it?

Yes, will be made available
Q—We have an SBO and afternoon and evening session back to back. Can we do it all remotely?

A—With SBO, you and principal can work out a way to make it work. You have to give parents real access. You can send to DR and superintendent. Have that conversation.

Q—What if staff member has quarantined parent and requires eldercare?

A—Part of same discussion as childcare. Will get back to you.

Q—Class trips—will they be canceled?

A—We believe there should be citywide policies and they should now be postponed.

Q—Members asking for hand sanitizer and wipes. School doesn’t have them. Governor said we would get it Will we be provided with it?

A—I know he said it, but I won’t be sure until it happens. I need you to go into every bathroom to make sure there is soap. There is a hand sanitizer crisis. We heard of a truckload hijacked. We will see about it, but please make sure people are washing hands.

Q—People are being told to stay home and maybe under normal conditions they wouldn’t.

A—These are not normal conditions. We have to do the best we can. We are all in this together.

Q—We already had our parent teacher conferences. We have to make some up. Can we do that remotely?

A—Agreement covers only month of March. If you want to do it, fine. Some parents have issues with coming to school. This may be something very useful if parents find it easier.

Q—Nobody can walk into a school with a gun. We should make a rule that anyone entering a school should disinfect hands.

A—Will talk to DOE, but first we need hand sanitizer.

Q—Thousands of deaths, on underlying condition was age. Can city recognize that as a risk factor?

A—Have spoken about this. We’d like to see more testing. Flu always more severe on people with more experience on earth.

I thank you for coming, for being online, Happy St.. Patricks and St. Joseph’s Day. We will get through this. When you’re having a difficult day, talk to each other. Our lives are about dedicating ourselves to helping children and we will get through this.

This is the birthday of the UFT. Happy 60th birthday, UFT.  Stay safe and let’s take care of our children, our schools, and our families.
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