Wednesday, December 16, 2020

UFT Delegate Assembly December 16, 2020--With Vaccine Coming, What's in the Future?

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--Welcome to last DA of 2020. People on this call are the leadership of the union. We understand how much people lean on leaders during normal times. During these times, dealing with shutdown, fear and anxiety, people look to you. What you have done in terms of moving schools to remote, opening safely, and COVID response teams has been phenomenal. Recognize what you've done. None of our work matters unless it works at the building where people go to work. 

Our number one priority in mayoral race will be that DOE be completely revamped, in that their responsibility will be to support school buildings, not themselves. We remember what happened in March April and May and now it's happening all over the country. You've protected the school system.

Snow--City has given notice that tomorrow is an instructional day. Last year they forced us to report during spring break. We had a ruling that remote is instructional and when we're out of COVID our first act will be to seek compensation. We agreed that two snow days in our calendar were instructional days. We need to meet minimal mandate or state can tell us to cancel holidays, and in that case we wouldn't have agreement. This agreement is only for this year. We will look at things we want to see and things we don't. Our calendar now has more holidays than any system in US. Most snow days we could ever have would be two. Don't want to see days from Spring break canceled. 

There's no substitute for in-person instruction, but there are some things that are valuable in remote, as well as some that are definitely not.

NYC--State plan for COVID, geographically based. City has right to modify plan if it meets minimum NYC requirements. Our position was they have a right, but we stress testing, social distancing, ventilation, and procedures. Reason we haven't had a problem has been testing. We've closed over 500 schools as a result. If there is a hint of virus, that is an affirmative action. 

If you have linked cases, you isolate. If they are not linked, you shut it down. We've gone from 20% a month to 20 a week. They've gone way over, but there were problems.  If they aren't solved, we will go to court. City needs to meet agreements. 

In terms of randomness, we had issues. They'd test same cohort. 20% of all schools were not done. They took a past practice, and offered testing to entire school. Whole schools were sometimes tested. There was not a lot of COVID spread because when we found it, we stopped it. They don't have time to do whole schools anymore. Whole school will be tested on monthly basis. 

Biggest problem was with test results. They got slammed with number of tests. We had many issues. Not helpful to get results four days later, causes anxiety. We set up a monitoring process this week. It looks like results from Monday will be in today, positivity about .2. This is our early warning system. 

Many calling around country asking how we do this. We built this capacity. Just this week, we've closed 530 odd classrooms and 139 schools. We're doing our jobs. We have to be constantly vigilant.

D75 felt now that students were mandated to be tested they'd be stressed. School nurses asked for proper training, got n95 masks, and city delivered kits. We have a problem with the company. They bought kids that required nurses to go online. Legal liability was out of control. If anything went wrong, it would be all their fault. We won't use those kits. DOE said either you change this or we go in different direction.

This didn't stop testing. DOE people thought children would be very upset. Hasn't generally been true but there have been incidents. By and large, our nurses are still doing that work. Relationships make big difference. Staff at 811 dealt with principal on medical accommodation, not even in building. Teachers on that site are nothing less than heroes. Tried to take path to fix, union got involved and now entire site is tested, no positive cases.

Don't appreciate comments by mayor. We are following state numbers, and are tied to state programs. Not acceptable to keep schools open even if there's a lockdown. We're staying on top of things. Some hotspots now moving back down. We have to get through last challenge, get vaccine, and move closer to normal

Operational issues--Almost 1140 settled in 702 schools. On oversized classes there is now compensation involved for those abused by oversized classes. Superintendent may say there's no money, but they allowed it to happen and now have to pay. We have to stay vigilant.

We're teaching in situations we've never seen. Every day more info, misinfo, and craziness. We continue to get our work done. We will fight when we have to, but for us it's about an endgame--safety, livelihood and profession. It's tough but you have led in a phenomenal way. Damage done across city is major. Education has been damaged. Children have regressed, but we will start to undo damage. 

Tomorrow's a "snow day." Now the chancellor wants teachers online, which he said never to do. Plan is remote instruction, not regular school day. Will that guidance go out? No. But that's the world we work in. Principals get very little direction. Good if principal's good, bad if they're power-hungry. 

Federal--Big problems with emergency package now. Any thought of working together for family and children--that hope is gone. We'll see what happens. My goal is to keep ed. money in. Doesn't look good for state and local.  Eviction protection is important. If not, will be many homeless next month. 

We have to make sure if virus gets out of control we shut down, but next piece is livelihood. We've over 2K who've lost jobs. In other states there've been massive layoffs. We haven't even gotten into bad economy and effects. Doesn't matter if you're blue, red or purple--we need a massive fed stimulus next year and guaranteed $ for education. When people talk about GA, if dems will help, that's who I support.

We are looking at mayoral race and city council candidate. We will have to work with these people next 4 years to dig out of hole. State 15 bil in red, city 9, plus MTA. This is just next year. We've never seen anything like this. In recession entire deficit was 7 bil over two years. Come January we need massive federal stimulus package. Not finished yet on safety. 

Do we want to fight? No. Will we? Yes.

We need a stimulus to save livelihood. We have to be very politically active. Every district has a team, and we want to endorse at least 21 in January. Looks like 20 running for mayor. 

We are against mayoral control. But reporters only want to talk about that, not deficit. We need to completely restructure DOE. We keep our eyes on things that matter. In the end, we need a big package. Thanks retiree chapter for political work. 

Before pandemic, we had 6.5 years of better budgets. We now need good partners. Many of our friends' terms are up. 

State--Systems opening and closing, some who haven't opened are dealing with layoffs. Hear that there are many budget cuts waiting on federal gov. One glimmer of hope is that our testing and vaccine distribution capacity is probably better than most. Vaccine not mandated. 

State plan puts teaching and school staff at second tier of distribution. Trying to find timeline, Now is frontline healthcare workers and nursing homes. We are next. Follow closely Moderna, seems to be more of that available to state, easier to work with. Our doctors have said it's just as effective as Pfizer, signed off on safety of both. How many doses could be the key. Could be Feb. and March. When we start to have access you'll start to see all numbers go down.

Reasons schools staff is prioritized is Biden wants schools open in first 100 days, says all procedures have to be in place. We will follow these procedures to end of year. Perhaps classes can grow a little. We will see. City has closed opt-in. Will that change? Don't know.

Close to 90% of operational complaints tied to blended. Perhaps we can get to only live and remote. If live is less than 35%, you can look at whether or not 5 day is viable. DOE is coming. Blended learning just keeps causing more issues because DOE never did job correctly. Numbers can only go down on December 23rd, supposedly, if kids don't show up. DOE says those who don't show up by then will be fully remote.

There are no definitive answers as we do things we've never done before. That's why we went to operational, so we can do things quicker, things not covered in contract. 

Thanks us again for doing things never done before. No one else has done this. These is now a major push to talk about public schools negatively, on both red and blue sides. We protected the profession and are talking to Biden transition team. Not cheap to open, and policy is a political fight. People in the buildings will keep schools safe, not politicians. If they have right support, supplies, they can handle it. And you have done that.

LeRoy Barr--UFT pride committee had virtual screeing Moonlight, Jan 21 screening of Chisolm and panel discussion to honor first woman VP. She stands on shoulders of many. Sign up for CL weekends. Support UFT endorsed candidate, Kevin Ryan in Bronx. Last day is Sunday, Happy holidays and be safe.

Mulgrew--Thanks Rich Mantel for coat drive. Homeless population growing. In every borough, you see testing lines and food lines. We are supporting FeedNYC, partnering with restaurants, churches, orgs. We are in a food crisis in NYC. We will be there to help. We're doing toy drive and helping homeless coalition. 


Q--Testing--We were tested Wed. and yesterday. About 50 members have not received results. Staff told minimum of 5 days for results.

A--As of today there is new process. Anyone with any issue like this should immediately contact DR or borough office. We have a database that goes to our health and safety people. It will be fixed or we will go to court. Results within 48 hours.

Q--What is position of union on opening 5 days?

A--If it can be done, following all rules, it's okay. DOE failed to understand they originally only had opt outs and assumed everyone else would come. Mayor used it for political purposes, said 75% of parent agreed, because only 25% had opted out. Every school then programmed for 75%. We now know who has opted in. If we can reprogram safely, okay. If you're at 35% or below, you can attempt, but must meet safetly requirements. Safety first.

Q--Vaccines--When we hit tier 2, how will they be distributed? Will they come to us?

A--Not worked out yet. Pfizer has to be done in special facility. We will work it out with state and city. We guess everyone will have time to go. You will show you are NYC employee. People seem to want it. US Marshals are assigned to every vaccine truck now. We want it free, available, and easy. We will share details.

Q--Testing hasn't happened at our SI school. We are nervous. Numbers are high.

A--Since Friday, they've started coming down. We are collecting this info and we knew about your school. If we have to, we will go to court. We will hopefully get people there quickly. We and doctors watch these things. Elected officials talk to me,  aren't doctors. I go with info from doctors. 


A--Until we have vaccine being distributed, we have to keep testing capacity up. City cannot open HS at this moment. Not officially determined whether there will be academic testing this year. We can't do them virtually. On our radar--If we are in a much better place, vaccine is out in April or May, we will do what we have to to make sure HS students get credit, whether or not with exams. 

Q--Principals scheduling observations--

A--There are no observations, and there is no APPR. State has said will be done through collective bargaining. DOE wants to use S and U system. Numbers tell us that's not great. When you use authentic student learning, not standardized testing, teachers are better off. We get thousands of Us because people had fights with admin. We want to figure out a baseline of authentic learning, only for this year. Will only be used this year. None at this point. May finish by early January. We also need protocols, with people demanding things from online classrooms. We have silliness of demands they get access as a teacher into my classroom. What that tells me is admin is incompetent. If it's a school program, they have access and don't know how to run their own programs.

Q--Can we have clarification on AM instructional coordination and grade meetings?

A--Coordination is to meet with other teachers working with same students. Could be appropriate, but systematic meetings with AP telling everyone what to do is unacceptable. Your DR and borough rep will be in touch with principal or superintendent. Don't understand people who are power hungry.

Q--Onsite COVID testing--Is there a system to ensure randomization of students and staff?

A--Some places are getting better, others not. They know there are problems. Not for lack of effort, testing people not DOE. They don't take problems as personal attacks, unlike DOE. Amount of testing causing issues. Will be additional contact tracing team. If not working in your school, tell DR. Will be fixed or go to court.

Q--CTLE hours--Will they be waived? Two paras came to me, saying there have been issues with CUNY, due to issues with payment.

A--Not waived as of yet. If you have a problem with CUNY, contact our call center. Our people have access. We are offering a lot of CTLE online via UFT Learn. We don't know what they will do yet, but we prioritize UFT for slots in our classes.

Q--Will UFT continue with online retirement meetings after COVID?

A--We are rethinking things. DA has much more attendance online. We've never had this level of participation. Numbers are massive. We have to look at what this means going forward. MAP online ability helps more members. We have to look at what has and hasn't worked. Happy numbers are high. Also miss seeing people, like everyone. Can't wait to walk into a school without a mask, see smiles. Can't do any of that right now. We don't want to lose that, but will look for balance.

Q--Supervisor mandates all counselors include her in Zoom meetings with all seniors. Principal says she has a right. 

A--Why would this lead to better results for children? Clearly a power trip. Question is what leads to better results. If this is mandated practice, I want to hear DOE defend it. We will take care of this ASAP.


Rashad Brown--Please support resolution for next month--commemorate World AIDS Day--Affects all of us, many Black and Latinos affected. We should acknowledge, honor those lost and support those struggling. 

Passes 92% 

Daniel Alicia--Mayoral control--next month--We need our union to end mayoral control. Parents and educators need more voice, checks and balances, single person in charge not good at all. Need to join with students and community leaders. We need real changes. Growing call in our union to limit mayoral control. Thanks Mulgrew for championing issue. Things have changed since 2013, can't be on sidelines. Need bottom up system. Endorsements should be tied to candidates committed to fundamental ed. changes. We need an action plan in coordination with all stakeholders.

Passes 81% 


Rashad Brown--Health care and human rights for transgender--UFT has always been on right side of this, we are fighting for what should be a right, not a privilege. Trump has treated us badly, reversing rights. Changed coverage to biological sex at birth. This group most likely to be uninsured in US, and this is further discrimination. We want to get things back on track. Asks for support.

Speaker in support--We have wide diversity of students who identify as trans, important for what we do and who we are to support.

Joy Pell--Parent of transgender son. We sometimes forget that they are children and we care about them. We need to protect them like everyone else. Asks for support.

Passes 95%

Serbia Silva--Resolution for UFT to advocate for Latin American Educators --Our union has history of supporting and celebrating Latinos. 40% of students are Latino, but only 7% of staff. We have to fix that, continue to advocate and promote diversity. Asks for support.

Speaker--Speaking for LatinX students, child of immigrants, important for students to feel valued and have culture celebrated. We should all support.

Passes 95%

Mulgrew---Please stay on top of testing. That's how we keep each other safe and keep DOE on its toes. Please stay vigilant to keep each other and families of children we serve safe. Can't thank you enough. You've done something no one else has ever done. Have a great holiday and stay safe.

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