March 14 - NTA COVID-19 Update

The next few days will be a "settling in and taking our bearings" period. I am sure that you have many questions and concerns. I will be communicating with you more frequently as the situation changes and I learn more. I will first reiterate a point I made in my last update: You will continue to receive your full pay and benefits as long as the schools are closed.  We have heard from many of you who are worried about children who experience food insecurity. The district expects to have a plan in place early next week. We will let you know if and how you can volunteer in the district's efforts as soon as we learn more.  Chris and I (with much support) are putting together a list of issues that we need to negotiate with the district. We are working closely with David Fleishman and his team, and we feel reassured by their compassion, support, and flexibility. As David said in his most recent email, the days out of school from now until Wednesday, March 18, will be considered "snow days." Regardless of how many additional days we miss this year, the last day of school for students will be June 24, and the last day for staff will be June 25. For this reason, there is no expectation that members--with some exceptions--will work during these next few days. If schools remain closed past next Friday, we will need to consider:

  • What academic work, if any, will we ask of students while they are at home? What expectations will there be of faculty, bearing in mind that many educators have children of their own at home, and some educators and/or their children may become ill?

  • How will the district hold IEP meetings if the schools are closed? The logistics are daunting, and to date there is no relief from deadlines. Yet so much of the preparatory work that goes into an IEP meeting is done in school, in person. Can this work be done remotely? Can an IEP meeting be held over video-conference? If so, by what technology? And if so, what is reasonable and equitable to ask of educators?

  • When we return to school, what do we do about evaluation? Should any of the end of year evaluations be postponed? 

  • How will course and classroom placements be done for next year? Who will do them?

  • If we return to work, but many of us must remain home to care for ourselves or our children, how will the district handle this? Sick days? Paid leave days?

I offer this as a sampling, not a comprehensive list. The situation is fluid, and more issues come up every day. While I worded these issues as questions/problems, I assure you we've been working hard to come up with solutions. I will keep you updated as the situation changes, and as I know more. Please take care and stay well.


Mike

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Newton Teachers Association

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Newtonville, MA  02460

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