Dear Members… An Open Letter about “Spring Break”

Open Letter to Membership

Good day members,

Here are some points of information regarding our loss of Spring Recess.

1. Religious Observation Days

If you are going to observe any of the upcoming holidays — Holy Thursday, Good Friday, or Passover — you should request to take a religious observation day. Under normal circumstances, a religious observation day is only 60% of your pay, but the DOE has issued an exemption and you will receive full pay for any of these three holidays. CAR days will be deducted for each absence.

2. “Special Week of Family Service of Support” (aka “Spring Recess“)

While many staff are quietly planning to lighten their workloads during April 9 – 17, nothing from the DOE has loosened up the leash. It’s safe to expect a virtual grind for many — staff, parents, and students. There are reports from our gen. ed. peers of students on computers from 8am – 2:30pm with live instruction the whole time. 

There is no trace of lowered work expectations in the Chancellor’s most recent email with his lesson plans for “theme days” and “virtual educational resources”. For many of us, throwing up a random lesson goes against the flow of our curriculum. Carranza should work on Danielson domain 1e – Designing Coherent Instruction. Hopefully for you, your principal will be taking a relaxed approach, but if not, put pressure on the chapter leader to hold the principal accountable to CSA’s guidance against micromanaging “schedules and minutiae”. Hopefully they are mostly concerned about student safety while at home — but there’s nothing in writing to protect us if we work less during our normally scheduled vacation.

If your principal is forcing you to teach using Google Meets or Microsoft teams, coercing you to keep a “regular schedule, or” if they are micromanaging you in any way please reach out to UFT Solidarity and nominate this administrator via the ANOI List. We will happily send them a reminder to be fair.

3. Spring Break Absences

On the face of it, the DOE took away 7 days and gave us back 4. If that’s not bad enough, consider that many of us cannot safely be absent for those 4 days. As we know, a staff member who is absent more than 10 days in a school year (or a para who takes more than 5 days in a semester) can be subject to discipline for “excessive absences” no matter what the reason for the absences. It doesn’t matter what the days were for — religious observation days and medically documented absences both count towards the 10. Consider how many of us already used days in the first half of March to prevent exposure to the virus. These 4 new CAR days will sit in our banks, on reserve for a future leave. Some of us will cash them in upon retirement. 

Your chapter leader should be discussing this with your principal, as it is up to their discretion what counts as “excessive”.

4. Contractual Mandated Benefits

What about those other 3 days out of the 7? The Chancellor’s most recent letter mentions nothing about further compensation beyond the 4 CAR days. And this is the most disturbing part. It is one thing for the Mayor to delay Spring Break as a public health measure, but it is inexcusable to use this crisis as a reason to take away our contractually mandated benefits. There should be transparency with what is happening with those other 3 days, or that these first 4 days will be hassle-free. Our union should be going ape over this! Michael Mulgrew says we have a right to “collective negotiation,” but don’t forget that in the financial crisis of 2008, it was we, the DOE staff, who were betrayed by the City, left without raises for five years, with layoffs and cuts to TDA rates. We’re still waiting to be paid back twelve years later. We cannot allow this to happen again, so we must stand together to ensure that it does not and will not.

Enjoy the week,

UFT Solidarity Council

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One Comment

  1. Do you know when these 4 car days will be put into our banks? It’s May and I still don’t see them!

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