Monday, January 04, 2021

UFT Executive Board January 4, 2021--Vaccines, Openings, Closings and Food Banks

UFT Secretary LeRoy Barr--Welcomes us. DA Next week, Jan. 13th. 

Karen Alford--Thanks members for toy drive donations. Says many children got toys, and over 20K in monetary donations, not to mention toys.

Al Shanker scholarship deadline extended to February 1.  

Anthony Harmon--Food drive to help communities--partnered with restaurants to get 1K meals per week per borough, over 20K done so far.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--Moment of silence for Jerry Rainer, teacher at MS 216, who passed last week. 

We will continue helping communities with food.

City and state have different numbers. Currently state numbers take precedence. Discrepancy is large, but COVID definitely rising. Number for state is 6.2 while city number is over 9, yet mayor says he's following the state. Testing is continuing to work. Since 12/7 closed 390 schools, over 45%. Just today, we had 121 schools shut down due to pre-break tests. 

We need everyone to continue to report testing issues. They have made changes, but we need quick turnaround and real random testing. In order to get it all done, they can't just test a whole school. They will test 20% and leave, and they can't test only adults. Governor said if school district reaches 9% it's up to them to close. UFT says we have to close at 9%. This could be a fight if we get there. 

My focus has been moving teachers up in terms of vaccine access. There are tens of thousands of doses sitting in freezers, and worst offender is NYC, having distributed only 31%. I want us to have access now. We will support right to choose, but we want access to choose. 

We don't have spread in the building because we act quickly. It's not the end when we get vaccine. Will take a while to reach herd immunity, but individual will have a bit of safety. We need to move up vaccination access for school employees. We are at 6.2%. When we get to 9 we will fight to close schools. 

APPR--Conversations on teacher evaluation has started. There is an agreement that there must be a MOSL. We will simplify as much as possible and move forward. 

Thanks people who helped distribute food and toys. Things like these are important. Will be bumpy over next few weeks and we hear it is trending up. Nationally, people want to keep schools open, so this will be tough. If we hit 9, we will fight. 

Vaccine is important now. We can't get to the end of this unless large % get vaccine.

Questions/ answers

City level is 6.2. Mayor uses own numbers. we don't know why. Two sets of facts don't build confidence. We need a plan to get to end.

Vaccine availability is something I'm in conversation with hospitals and health providers. Want to make it available and easily accessible. 

Hopefully there will be more clarity by Monday. We will push very hard. Once feds allot doses they're shipped to state, which determines where it goes. We're working to build sites, possibly high schools. There is a local group to set up plan for NYC. We've told city we want to be part of that process. 

Even if all UFT is vaccinated I don't believe we can open yet. We still have children coming in and out and all have to be vaccinated before herd immunity happens. I will go to doctors for advice, and perhaps bring them to one of these meetings. I want vaccines now, not Feb or March.

Why are we going with state number, not city?

There should've never been two different numbers. We have a dynamic in which NYC wants to do things differently and by itself. Sometimes I understand and sometimes I don't. City number has no legal authority and serves to cause confusion. Doctors tell us they are comfortable with state number.  I think extra number is for political purposes and doesn't help.

Can vaccines be done in schools?

There is a chance. 

Many people working remotely--will they be included in prioritized vaccine?

I think they should be. People in buildings may go first but then it's entire title. We can't get through this thing until we get to general public after all. 

How concerned are we about new variant, now in NY?

We're concerned, but it seems to react to the vaccine. Do protocols, wear mask. 

I thought Cuomo set ceiling at 9%. Has he moderated policy?

Trying to get clarity. Upstate school districts are over and he said it was up to them. We though 9 was it. We don't have collective bargaining on this. Did not appreciate change in policy. It's confusing. We talk to doctors all the time and found if we could increase testing we'd be safer. Looking for clarity--Exec. order said 9 would shut down, but now it's up to school. Looking for clarification. 

What is time frame for return to middle school?

I don't believe you can open up anything else. You didn't read my op-ed. I made it clear we have no ability to do more testing right now. Has to be a window of time before schools open. This is why we hate mayoral control. We've had no official conversations since testing capacity maxed out. 

It will be a rocky few weeks. It's up to everyone to keep virus at bay, not just school. All numbers will now be posted daily. Happy New Year to all.

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