Monday, October 05, 2020

UFT Executive Board October 5, 2020--The Fun Never Stops


5:50 Roll Call


UFT Secretary LeRoy Barr--Welcomes us.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--Asks for moment of silence for Ruth Greenburg, guidance counselor and special ed. pioneer. 

Busy weekend--all schools opened, and now 91 schools and 18 sites going remote. Serious issue. Hoping for fewer last minute dramas. Plan says if zip code goes over 3% they have to do heavy testing, but city was slow to react. Virus emerging in certain communities and cause for concern. There should be quicker testing. After over a week, city tested only 25 schools and not in compliance.

Mayor made right decision. Only one of those schools was in quarantine. Doctors said it was only a matter of time before these schools tested positive. Mayor made right call. Asking state for permission was rather odd, but there was a meeting today, governor, mayor and UFT. Decided to start tomorrow.

Looking at other zip codes. City has to increase testing capacity. We need to increase testing when zip hits three, not 7 day average. 

Some schools doing very well. Ready for any emergency. Other places have challenges. We don't have great leadership in every building, but that will always be a problem in a district of our size.

Mandated monitoring--there will be a clarifying document saying if you want to be in a school building, testing is mandated. You will have to sign consent form or go home. Constant problems with city before they get things better. They now understand with testing and PPE. Next challenge, hopefully, won't be so difficult. 

Testing has to happen every day. Randomization will hopefully be easy and clear as possible. With this virus moving, we need to monitor closely, increase testing, and follow protocols.

National--It's all about the election. Our UFT retirees are doing immense work on FL and elsewhere. NYSUT organizing phone banks for PA. We'll see where this thing goes. Election will take twists and turns no one could imagine. Debate, COVID, all crazy and unprecedented. We know how important this election is. Economy completely wrecked. We need help for city and state. Will take years, won't be easy. 

Staffing problems difficult. Had kept SBO programs shut--didn't want them before city admitted how much staff was needed. We have short term agreement for pay increases for subs who stay. People redeployed from central walk into schools and announce they don't teach.

Live instruction problematic because of staffing. Principals ask for live and remote together. Class sizes are too large. Starting to move through operational complaints. Hope there is relief by this week. Many principals getting constantly conflicting directives. They are rightfully leery. Info from central has been used against them many times.

After one week, 91 schools are going remote, some being open only one week. No answer will make everything right. This is chaotic until we get a vaccine. We have to keep our schools safe, and that's why yesterday was important. Mayor no longer saying all or nothing.

Chaos will continue. Remote learning has issues but fewer than we'd anticipated. Teachers, in person, are doing great job. Told city these are the heroes. They're dealing with things every day for which there's no playbook. Overall, hoping whatever new strategy governor and mayor announce changes things. If not, we'll see more remote, and we're equipped. We will keep monitoring.

Schools are now open, after 6.5 months of talk. Now we have to hold the city's feet to the fire. There is a daily phone call where we discuss all the issues. We were a little irate. Middle management of DOE is back, reinterpreting things and wasting time. They aren't here to reinterpret. They need to implement existing policy.

Economy will keep coming up. Number of layoffs is through the roof in state and country. Next report will be dramatically hire. We need to figure out how to get through next two or three years without a layoff.


Don't pass SBOs if school has not met hiring standards. Insist on more staffing. Tell principal to deal with borough offices. If you have different instructional plans, that's fine. If principal doesn't want to be reasonable and hire staff don't do it.

Tests are mandatory if you want to be in the building. If you want to get paid, you need to be tested. It's a non-invasive nose swab. Hundreds were tested in some schools. 

If UFT members think worksite is unsafe, contact Jeff Povalitus. 

With two or more cases, there will be contact tracing. We are notified even if student or staff hasn't been in schools. We get that citywide. 

School secretaries--lack of plexiglass, and secretaries' chapter stood up. 

If we need a meeting, I will call one immediately. Please be on notice. Be safe and have a great night. 6:32

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