Whether you use a calendar, day planner, or crafted a paper chain to count down the days to winter break. GEA recognizes the importance for all educators, regardless of your role in Granite schools to step back and unwind during the next few weeks. Before you leave, GEA wants to update you on what we have been working on recently.
GEA thanks the many members who contacted us to let us know that the Friday distance learning support and planning time was being infringed on for meetings, professional development, and a myriad of other reasons. After a letter sent to district administration alerting them of the situation, the following message was sent immediately out to the schools:
Another win on a state level is UEA’s success in sharing the voice of thousands of members statewide requesting to be included in the first round of Covid-19 vaccines. Last summer, public school employees were deemed “essential workers” by the governor. This led to opening schools to both in-person and on-line education. Utah was one of a handful of states to take this bold move which caused chaos to the lives of public-school employees, especially those who were high-risk for infection. In his address to the media last Wednesday, December 9, Governor Herbert stated:
Questions have come to GEA leaders regarding the process for quarantine and contact tracing in schools. Educators watch the Granite School District dashboard and see numbers of positive Covid-19 cases rise above the state health department’s minimum of 15. Some are hearing internally that there are many more positive cases than are reported. These discrepancies cause concern. Your advocates and GEA leaders met with Alison Milne, Director of Nursing Services, Leslie Bell, Assistant Superintendent, Teacher & Learning Services, and John Welburn, Assistant Superintendent, School Leadership & Improvement Services at the district office to have them explain the process so that we understood what was going on with the numbers.
Leslie Bell explained, the GSD dashboard cases have not been reviewed or verified by the health department and consequently are informative but not final dispositions. The process as it was described to us is as follows: cases are added to the dashboard by the district using both school information and health department information. Then, when the number reaches 15, the district alerts the health department, and the health department starts reviewing the cases. District staff work in conjunction with the Health Department to confirm case counts that would go towards that threshold. Distance learners and multiple cases from one household may show up in the public dashboard but do NOT contribute towards the 15-case threshold for dismissal, so sometimes the number of positive cases goes down during this process.
Meanwhile, within the backlog of contact tracing, cases at the school in question are prioritized, so that if the school is going to end up with over 15 cases counted by the health department, action to close, disinfect, and quarantine can happen quickly. So, there is some last-minute up-and-down of the case numbers.
Furthermore, the threshold is merely a point that triggers health department review and verification and thereafter determination by public health officials whether to recommend a dismissal. At that point, case information is verified, and the Salt Lake County Health Department makes a recommendation to dismiss IF those cases are confirmed. The District will NOT dismiss until that recommendation is received, and in some instances, that formal recommendation has come the same day, or even a day later, depending on circumstances.
Granite District administration says they will continue to work under the Health Department's guidance and direction in all COVID related matters.
This describes the process before the new rapid testing “test to stay” protocol that was piloted at Granger and Kearns High. Now, when the health department confirms that Hunter has reached the threshold, you will either go on a two-week dismissal or, if the district has enough rapid tests on hand, you will do the “test to stay” procedure.
As with everything “Covid” there is constant motion and change. Health officials learn from new research and data daily, so as things change, rest assured that your GEA leaders are staying on top of the wave and will bring you updates. Hopefully, this will allow you to have that “long winter’s nap” so needed at this time.
At the Granite School Board (Board) meeting on Tuesday, December 1, John Welburn, Granite School District (GSD) Assistant Superintendent, presented a PPT regarding an adjustment to instructional days. This proposed change comes from requests made by educators and GEA to the GSD Board and administration to allow for more teacher planning days following each quarter’s grading period (similar to what was experienced at the end of the first quarter).
At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) allowed districts to use up to five daily waivers for student instruction. These waivers are due to the complications which were expected to arise due to the covid-19 pandemic. GSD has used two of the five days allotted and three waivers remain.
The proposed revision to the school calendar will add two professional learning days to the end of the term on January 13-14, and one professional learning day to the end of the term on March 25th.
Important to note, several schools suffering an emergency closure early in the school year due to high winds and loss of power, will still need to make up the instructional days for students. The solution for those schools will be to use one or more of the additional professional learning day(s) in January and March to hold a distance learning day for students.
Following are the schools affected by the emergency closures:
Schools missing one day of instruction:
These calendar changes were approved unanimously by the Board and an updated calendar will be advertised. GEA is gratified that the Board and GSD administration look to ways to ease the workload for educators during end of term transitions.
2020-2021 Calendar - Board Presentation 12/01/20
Attention all 7th - 12th Grade Teachers
Your students have a chance to be part of Utah history!
"In honoring Dr. King’s legacy, the Utah Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission is hosting an art contest for the official state decal of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. license plate. With an accompanying slogan of “Many Voices, One Utah,” the selected artwork will promote diversity, equity and human rights. The winner will receive an official decal and be formally recognized in January 2021 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "
To submit a design and find out more about the contest rules, please follow this link >>
1. Granite District Retirement Info
2. Utah Retirement System (URS)
If you are close to the end of your career, smart planning is the key.
Join us to learn more about your retirement benefits.
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Virtual via Zoom
5:00 – 7:30 p.m.
5:00-6:00 Granite District Retirement Information - by Doug Wagstaff
(Negotiated for you by GEA)
6:00-7:00 Tier 1 Information from the URS - Kory Cox
(You are in Tier 1 if you began employment prior to July 1, 2011.)
Please follow this link to join the seminar on January 7,2020:
GEA continues to receive questions and concerns regarding quarantine and isolation protocols. In August 2020, Granite School District Human Resources sent this memo to all principals and to GEA. The same protocols are still in place and posted here as information. If you have questions regarding how protocols are followed in your school building, be sure to contact the GEA Office by phone or email.
Quarantine is for people who are not sick and don' t have any symptoms of COVID-19, but who may have been exposed to it.
Isolation is for people who are already sick or have tested positive for COVID-19.
Potential School Scenarios:
*In all of these scenarios, principals should collaborate with SUDS to explore the best use of human capital in the building.
ACLU of Utah published an updated version of “Free Speech Rights of Public-School Teachers and Staff in Utah,” a Know Your Rights advisory guide for education professionals employed in K-12 settings.
This 4-page pamphlet, updated to address issues and trends relevant in 2020, is designed to help teachers, staff members, administration officials, and school board members navigate these complex First Amendment issues. Nothing in this document, however, should be construed as legal advice. If you have a specific concern, please reach out to GEA.
Like students, public school teachers and staff retain First Amendment rights both inside and outside school settings. However, because teachers and school staff are public employees, understanding the breadth of these rights can be complex.
This guide addresses questions like “Can I wear items conveying political or religious opinions in the classroom?” and “Is my speech to colleagues during breaks or casual conversations protected?” It also provides context on how speech outside of school can be viewed differently than speech inside a school or classroom.
Please use and share this guide, "Free Speech Rights of Public-School Teachers and Staff in Utah," within your school or district, professional association, or union.
Brought to you by: Jason Stevenson, Strategic Communications Manager, ACLU of Utah
Free Speech Rights of Public Teachers and Staff in Utah
As a member of GEA, you have an opportunity to be actively involved and be a voice for teachers and our Association. The Granite Education Association announces elections and encourages all interested members to run for office.
You may run for only one (1) Board position. Board members and officers elected by the general membership qualify as voting delegates at the NEA Representative Assembly* and the UEA House of Delegates.
If you are interested in being involved, but not on the Board of Directors, you can run for the Representative Assembly (RA) Delegate position. Members elected by the general member-ship to attend the RA qualify as voting delegates to the RA, the governing body of NEA. Elected delegates travel to the RA during the summer to make policy for the NEA.*
We will email your statement and picture (see below) to building reps with the elections materials. Please plan to attend the AR meeting on Weds., November 11th (virtually), prepared to make a short campaign speech.
*GEA board members’ travel to the RA is funded in the middle year of their term of office. Among members elected as delegates to the NEA RA, the top three vote-getters will have their travel funded.
FREE HELP for COVID-19 related stress
If you or someone you know is experiencing stress, anxiety or depression because of COVID-19, talk to a crisis counselor seven days a week, 7a-7p. All information is confidential and free of charge.
Email (first name and phone number only): UtahStrong@utah.gov
For immediate response after hours:
Counseling in Spanish and other languages available.
Operated by the Utah Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health through a FEMA grant, facilitated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
"Cyprus will fund up to $250 per teacher/educator. The grants can be combined for use toward a larger grant amount if specified. For example, four teachers can combine and apply for a $1,000 grant for a group project with each teacher submitting a separate application for their $250 allotment. Applications are limited to one $250 grant per teacher for the school year, either individually or with a team."
Find out more >>
Be Your Own Best Advocate
This is the time in an educator’s contract year when principals begin notifying them about observation scheduling. The question GEA is now receiving from members is “Why?! On top of everything else – why go through the observation/evaluation process?”
Educators are doing the very best they can just to keep their heads above water. Some days, it’s all you can do to get out of bed and off to work. Stress, anxiety, frustration, and exhaustion rule the day. Principals are not exempt from these same feelings and concerns, and they, by law and school policy, are required to observe and evaluate educators each year.
GEA has had ongoing conversations with the Granite School District Assistant Superintendents regarding observations and evaluations and expectations of teachers during the time of Covid-19. Teaching strategies and lesson plans have changed to social distance for safety. Administrators have been counseled to not expect to see what they would in a “normal” school year. We have been assured that this fact has been discussed with principals and leniency in instructional strategies such as proximity, small group instruction, changes in lesson design, hands on activities, etc. will be considered.
If you are a provisional teacher or are in the ‘summative’ year of your evaluation cycle, your observation will become part of an evaluation score. The time for you to make an appeal on an observation and/or evaluation score is BEFORE you sign and finalize the document. You are your own best advocate when it comes to a fair observation, and timing is everything. Your principal should email you a draft of your observation and schedule a debrief meeting with you to review the scores, sign, and finalize. When you receive this draft, review carefully with objectivity. If you note scores on some standards that are lower than normal due to the impact Covid-19 realities have on your classroom, now is the time to gather evidence to the fact that you have had to limit your teaching strategies and why. Once you have gathered the evidence you need, schedule to meet with your principal, present the evidence and work together to modify the scores appropriately.
If you need help with this process, call GEA and we will review the observation report with you and advocate on your behalf.