Monday, November 30, 2020

UFT Executive Board November 30, 2020--On Reopening

UFT Secretary LeRoy Barr--Holiday Toy Drive--Please contribute at Accepting donations up until December 16th.


UFT President Michael Mulgrew--What we've done in NYC has been remarkable. We had asked from beginning for borough or district based targeting. City thought we were trying to close system. Six communities, in fact, caused system to shut down. State did not have a plan when we began. Needed one in October. We could not close, though some communities were at 9 or 10%. te came up with yellow, orange and red plan. 

We don't know what's going to happen this winter. We are safer because we learned a lesson, How do we make sure we're keeping our schools safe? We need a much more aggressive stance on testing. We were first system in country to have testing program, but we wanted targeted surveillance testing system, testing 20% a week. 

Why were schools so safe? Testing was just part. We did our jobs well, followed social distancing, used signage, PPE, had teams. That is the main things that's kept schools safe. Testing is an early warning system. We need to know if COVID comes from inside or outside. We need to know if there are non-linked cases, which could make schools spreading vehicles.

We asked for testing on weekly basis, Consent form is now required, Of course there may be medical accommodations. But situation room must continue as it is. These rooms closed 311 schools before we went into shutdown. This either isolated people correctly, or would shut school down with two or more non-linked cases.

If this stays in place and we get geographic testing from state, we have a more effective system. We'd had schools open in districts with high rates. City now following both state plan and new aggressive testing plan. This gives us layers to keep schools extremely safe. If school is in orange or red zone, school can test out and become open again. 

State is lowering testing on rest of state. Was important we had testing agreement to move forward as a school system. Upstate NY testing capacity is extremely low and large numbers of schools are closing. State trying to establish a system like ours.

In state plan, there's a carve out for NYC.  If NYC school tests 2% or above it must automatically shut down. We have layered in plans for a great level of protection. We want to isolate and keep communities safe and also have an early warning system. 2% is our shutdown number.

State's program is still 3%, but 3% by community. Before, community could be 10 or 11%, and would stay open. At this point, I believe this plan can give us protections we need as long as overall rate doesn't get too high. LA just shut down at 22%. What were they waiting for?

We can't make a mistake. People think we're crazy for using low numbers. We don't want thousand of people getting COVID when everything stays open. It's not safe to open schools in states or cities at 15%, but we want neediest children to have access to school. Our neediest children have definitely suffered. When you talk to children and see problems, it's not about a learning loss, but a developmental loss. That's where we are. I don't know if we'll get over 5th grade. We'll see.

We still have very low numbers in much of the city, but some areas are outliers. Mayor needs to go to teacher school. He can't explain anything without confusing everyone. I don't know what he's saying, and I know what he's talking about. He's frequently mistaken. 

We'll open next week, unless something happens. If it does, we'll switch. Everything has someone who wants to debate it. Press doesn't understand these systems, but contDOinues to write about it. There are documents and they can read them. It doesn't matter what the governor says. If you can read, you can see it.

I know that as we move forward, and vaccine program looks real, we could see numbers move down. As numbers go down, people will think everything is safe. That's why it's important we keep numbers. There will be spikes, micro-clusters. We now can shut them down and do what we need to do. This should get us where we need to be, but we've learned a lot. 

There will be no more games. If you don't have a consent form, you're not going in.

Five day schooling--City's biggest mistake was asking parents to contact them to opt out. Should've asked them to opt in. Schools were programmed for over 700K, but we had only about 260K. Lots of schools had chairs for every one of 700K anyway. What we're saying now that schools know how many students they have, is they may program only children in school. It's a low number, 160K on Monday. 

We know DOE can't handle blended learning. If we can follow guidelines, then that model can work. Biggest benefit of being in NYC is our testing capacity. Very low outside of NYC, particularly upstate. As we do this reprogramming, we hope safety piece will be easier. 

There is a lot of bad info out there.


Tentative date for 6-8? No

Operational complaints being resolved much faster. 85% deal with blended learning. That is a mess. With more schools out of it, we will be better off. 

Debbie Poulos--Resolved 600 of about 1,000 before Thanksgiving. Close to resolving 90 more now.

Mayoral control--Never spoke about that. Being used by some reporters. Our position is there should be checks and balances on everyone. That is official union position.  

Primary caregivers also approved until June.

I hope this brings some clarity. PPE, class sizes, social distancing still remain in effect. We'll see where it goes. We will do everything in our power to make sure there are no mistakes. We're close to finish line, but key is to get there safely. Doctors say we're uber-aggressive in testing and protocols and that's how we'll keep everyone safe.

When elementary and D75 students go back, we hope what we do today will keep them safe. Some people explain things politically and not clearly. I wish they would go to teacher school, present content in clear and precise way, and some people lack that skill set.

Q--People in red zones travel across boroughs. This makes people nervous.

A--Now they're subject to 20% random testing, and that should help.

I hope you enjoyed yourselves, at keast to some degree, on Thanksgiving. We will get through this together.

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