Earlier this week, while walking through my neighborhood, I saw many chalked messages like this one here. Each house had a variety of skilled artists, colors, and ambition, but the same message was shared, “you are not alone.” It was comforting to know that when my anxiety spiked and I couldn’t stay another minute inside my house, that people (those I knew and didn’t know) understood and were there to uplift in these simple ways. GEA’s ambitions at this time is to do the same – to be present for you when you need support, available to answer questions, and to let you know you’re not alone.
We’ve received several questions and will attempt to answer them as we go along.
Question: As a special education teacher, will I need to make up service minutes for my students over the summer?
Answer: Your responsibility right now is to provide online learning for your students and their parents to the best of your ability. Videos via Google Classroom are a fun way to share information. You will track and document minutes of service and communication as best you can. If a parent believes additional service minutes are “owed” then it is up to the Special Education Department to navigate when and how those minutes will be provided. You may be asked to provide services during the summer, however, that is voluntary on your part and since its after-contract time, you should be paid for the additional time worked.
Question: As a classroom teacher, do I need to provide a DFL form in order to teach remotely from home?
Answer: No, you do not need to provide a DFL form. Simply meet with your principal and share your plan for remote teaching. Once your plan is approved, you should be able to work from home. There may be times when you will be asked to be at the school, for instance, assisting with the home packet distribution, etc. If you are asked to come in, please make sure you take responsibility for social distancing (6 feet from the next person). Be safe. In its update today the State Health Department recommends employers NOT request doctor letters from employees for remote work because this bogs down an already overwhelmed system.
Question: With remote learning, I feel like I need to take calls from students and parents on my personal phone. What are my protections?
Answer: Right now, we do not have lenience from the District for teachers to communicate via personal phones to students, nor is it the expectations that teachers communicate via their personal phone. If you need to call a parent, document the time you called, the subject matter you discussed and the length of the call. If you answer a call and it’s a student, politely ask that they send their questions to you via Google Classroom (or whatever platform you are choosing to work with). All communication with students should be kept to Google Classroom or Remind 101. GEA recommends you not use your personal phone or computer for work because doing so makes you vulnerable to accusations.
Question: Now that school is dismissed until May, is there a chance my pay will be reduced?
Answer: No. The District has not made any movement or comments to GEA regarding change in your contract pay. The effort teachers are making to provide remote learning for students satisfies your work requirements under the contract.
These are exceptional times. Your GEA AdvoCats are working hard to ensure that you are protected contractually and financially. Together we’ll get through this. Check back to this space for regular updates. Meow for now!