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Medical review panel will determine whether school districts are opening safely

Medical review panel will determine whether school districts are opening safely

SPRINGFIELD – Today, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) and the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) announced a medical review panel that will determine if school district re-opening plans are safe for students, staff and communities.

The panel, which will consist of more than a dozen doctors, will review district plans that educators fear may not be safe under public health guidelines. The panel will then determine whether the plans meet a list of commonly agreed upon protocols.

“We will be watching to make sure our students’ and educators’ health and safety is being protected.  And if the panel finds a district is operating in a way that puts lives at risk, we will do everything in our power to keep people safe,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said.

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COVID-19 and Liability Waivers

This reviews your rights under federal law. Always check with your local and state associations for assistance in enforcing these rights and about additional rights you may have under state laws, collective bargaining agreements or memorandums of understanding with the employer, or policies. 

BY ALICE O’BRIEN, NEA GENERAL COUNSEL

Q: CAN MY SCHOOL INSULATE ITSELF FROM LIABILITY BY FORCING ME TO SIGN A DOCUMENT WAIVING MY LEGAL REMEDIES I MIGHT HAVE IF I CONTRACT COVID-19 ON THE JOB?

Some schools have reportedly asked educators to sign documents waiving any rights they have against the school based on exposure to COVID-19. These waivers are not enforceable for several reasons. First, employees cannot be asked to waive their rights under the workers’ compensation laws, which would likely be their main source of recovery for contracting COVID-19 at work. Second, to the extent the school has an obligation under occupational health laws to maintain a safe workplace, that duty cannot be waived. Third, tenured teachers generally cannot be disciplined or fired for refusing a demand to decrease their workplace protections. Fourth, in states with collective bargaining for school employees, schools cannot unilaterally change educators’ working conditions without bargaining with the union.

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Truth Be Told

We are all teachers…whether you have a certificate or not. If you love a child, listen to a child, support a child, and yes teach a child, you are a teacher. This includes learning within a classroom or hallway… ESPs come in many job categories, and each and everyone is essential to the education and well being of the child.

Many of us don’t know what this next school year brings, or maybe you have been given a “plan”. Don’t worry… If we’ve learned anything that “plan” will change tomorrow. This school year for many of us will look very different. Different is change and change is hard. As we look to this year, the most important thing we need to decide is…is the “plan” that my district is presenting safe, following CDC and IDPH guidelines? Will I have all the PPE that I will need to stay safe? Your health and the health of your students is the most important thing there is!! If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your union president or uniserv director. NEA IEA are here to support you!!

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Don’t miss our next ESP Council Roundtable Discussion

ESP Health And Safety As We Return to School

Guest Speaker from Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP)

August 6th 6:30pm-8:00pm

You are invited to attend the IEA ESP Council’s second roundtable with special guest speaker from the ICAAP who will share health and safety guidelines and can answer some of your most pressing health and safety questions. Please join us as we learn, discover, and advocate for ESP throughout Illinois. Your ESP Council is here to support you during this trying time and beyond. If you have any questions or would like more information, please visit www.ieaespcouncil.com.

Register here: https://bit.ly/ESPRoundtable 

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4@4: Thursday, July 30

In Thursdays 4@4 episode, we answer your questions regarding whether a district can require member’s medical conditions be revealed; what to do if someone tests positive for Covid-19 in your school; whether a school board needs to approve the district back-to-school plan; and, if school custodians should be cleaning classrooms if someone in that space has tested positive.

Members can view the mentioned recordings of IEA’s sessions with Dr. Daniel Johnson, a pedriatric infectious disease expert, here: https://ieanea.org/coronavirus/

If you have a question that you’d like answered in a future 4@4 episode, please drop it in the comments below.

As we prepare for the new school year, please submit a response to our back-to-school survey: https://ieanea.org/forms/covid-19-back-to-school-survey/

If you have specific questions about your school district’s back-to-school plan, we encourage you to reach out to your assigned IEA UniServ Director and local president. If you need help identifying who that is, please reach out to us via IEA Connect.

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Supporting the well-being of ESPs during the Covid-19 crisis

Students cannot be whole, unless our educators are whole. ❤️

Join us + Dr. Chris Cipriano from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence for a webinar to discuss social and emotional learning strategies to support ESPs in navigating the challenging emotions of these rapidly evolving times.

Register now 👉 https://bit.ly/ESPSEL

Note: Once you register, we’ll encourage you to fill out a quick survey from Yale that will help inform the webinar.

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School Custodian: Without Funding for Safety, Outbreaks Inevitable

“ESPs are the first line of defense,” says LaPlante. “We are there first thing in the morning and the last at night and even in the best of circumstances, we are essential to student safety. With COVID we’re in unchartered waters. Now is not the time to cut back.”

They do have a stock of masks, disinfectants wipes and hand sanitizer, but the staff power is the necessary tool in the fight against spread.

LaPlante is a custodian at a high school, where studies just showed that students are just as likely to spread the virus as adults. High schools are also very large buildings with dozens of high-touch surfaces.

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Casten Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Education Professionals Have Access to Family and Medical Leave

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Sean Casten (IL-06), introduced the bipartisan, bicameral ESP Family Leave Act, legislation which would ensure that the Education Support Professionals (ESPs) who keep our schools running have access to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The legislation is cosponsored by 17 Representatives.

“Too many education support professionals—the dedicated school staff members who work in such essential areas as food service, maintenance, transportation, and much more—are left out of current family and medical leave law. They are devoted to taking care of and supporting students, yet they cannot use leave to take care of themselves or their loved ones during a medical crisis, or after a major life event such as the birth of a child,” said National Education Association Director of Government Relations Marc Egan. “The ESP Family Leave Act addresses this serious inequity, allowing more employees working in our public schools across the nation to have access to the benefit that millions of working people already enjoy.”

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We are in this together!

Colleagues,

For many, these days are dark and scary both in education and society. ESPs throughout Illinois and across the country are facing uncertainty. I want to tell you that you are not alone. We will get through this together! The council has been in close contact with IEA, and we will continue to bring your questions and concerns to union leadership. IEA has been fighting for schools to open safely and for the passage of the HEROES ACT. The U.S. House has already passed the HEROES Act, and it’s currently sitting in the U.S. Senate. You can take action to sign a petition and ask Illinois’ Senators to vote on the measure that includes funding for education, help for bridging the digital divide and money to outfit educators with personal protective gear. These funds can also be used to support students by having the ESPs they need to be successful in school. You make a difference everyday in the life of a child! #StrongerUnited #rESPect

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Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.[1] The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.

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NEA Today-ESPs making change!

“I had a growing interest in politics and how unions help support educators and students, and I was looking for opportunities to be active in my association. I campaigned at some #RedForEd events at our statehouse, and I worked with my local on membership recruitment. Then I learned that the Ward 1 School Committee seat, which is where I live, was open. I ran for office for the first time and won!

I’m a parent, and I have a 5-year-old who attends school in that district. I really wanted to add an educator voice to the school committee. I built my confidence to run by attending See Educators Run, NEA’s candidate training program.

The program connected me with a community of individuals that were all seeking the same thing: to win their campaign. The diversity within the community helped us become aware of opportunities and challenges a campaign can face.

It’s important for educators to hold office. I come into school every day, and I see kids who need a hug. I see kids who need a change of clothes. I see kids who really need a minute to decompress from their weekends. I think what’s really important is that teachers feel supported, that teachers have the necessary tools to do their jobs and take care of students and make sure they have a safe learning place.

There are some hard conversations that we need to have about some of the racial bullying incidents and other tensions in the community. In this new role, my goal is to bring everyone to the table and collaboratively find ways to solve some of these problems.

People who want change need to step up and do. People can either accept what they have or they can try to make that change. I think that everybody needs to come together. Whether it is a small input or a large input, everybody has something to contribute, which is why getting involved in the union and politics is critical.”

Rose Walker, Elementary Paraeducator, Lewistown, ME #NEAMemberMondays

We are stronger when we work together, and joining your local union is the best way to advocate for the children you will one day serve.

Visit our interest form and join our movement: https://bit.ly/2K20O4W

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Wow!! 91 participants for our first ESP Roundtable!!

Thank you!!

Thank you to all who attend this mornings ESP Roundtable: ESP Reduction in Force (RIF) – What you Need to Know with special guest Rob Lyons, IEA Associate General Counsel. Please join us for next months roundtable: ESPs Health and Safety as we return to in-person instruction. More information on this will come in the near future.

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White House blocks CDC from testifying on reopening schools next week

The White House is blocking US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield and other officials from the agency from testifying before a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on reopening schools next week, just as the debate over sending children back to classrooms has flared up across the US.

White House officials informed the committee of its decision in an email, a staff member on the House panel told CNN.

“Dr. Redfield has testified on the Hill at least four times over the last three months. We need our doctors focused on the pandemic response,” a White House official said, confirming the decision to block the CDC’s participation in the hearing.

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IEA Webinar-best practices for new hire orientations

Does your region need support with upcoming new employee orientations? Would a refresher on the Stronger United toolkit resources be helpful to you? What will we do differently in a virtual environment to sign up new members and keep returning members engaged?
The Stronger United Recruitment, Retention and Engagement (SU RRE) team is pleased to announce a series of virtual trainings this week and next, to help locals with reaching potential members, recruitment and organizing. The content of these trainings is different than that provided by IEA membership processing to region offices for membership manias. Topics include best practices for new hire orientations, an ESP specific round table, the power of one-on-one conversations and more! Training dates and descriptors can be found on the registration page. Deadline to register is July 21.

The ideal participant in the training is a local membership chair, member organizer, president, welcome committee member, or other member looking to get more involved with their local.

Please contact IEAStronger@ieanea.org if you have any questions about the trainings.
Register Today!
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Two new NEA ESP Webinars Opportunities


Tips & Tricks on How to Effectively Utilize Video Conferencing Platforms

Thursday, July 23, 2020 | 7:00pm – 8:00pm EST

Unprecedented times call for creative ways to stay connected with family, friends, colleagues and students. In this webinar participants will learn how to effectively utilize video conferencing platforms. Learnings will include customizing settings using Zoom or Google Meets, adding add-ons to enhance user experience on the Google Meets platform, understanding the difference in features when using a computer versus a tablet or mobile device, and learning how to access virtual meetings from your Gmail account. 

Presenter(s):
Sabina Ellis, Data Entry Manager, NJEA- Essex County

Register Now!

It Takes a Whole School to Support a Whole Child – Harnessing Social and Emotional Learning to Support the Well-Being of Education Support Professionals During the COVID-19 Crisis

Thursday, August 20, 2020 | 7:00pm – 8:00pm EST

It takes a whole village to support a whole child, and the strain on our school communities, including our education support professionals, is unprecedented. In this webinar, Dr. Chris Cipriano, Assistant Professor and Director of Research at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, will provide social and emotional learning (SEL) strategies to support ESPs within the school ecosystem to navigate the challenging emotions of these rapidly evolving times. Participants will have the opportunity to explore their complex feelings surrounding the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and learn strategies for harnessing emotions to cope in healthy and productive ways. Resources for building resilience will be provided and tips for practicing self-care will be tailored to support the unique needs identified by participants.

Presenter(s):
Christina Cipriano, Ph.D., Ed.M., Assistant Professor, Yale Child Study Center Director of Research, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Yale School of Medicine

Register Now!

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This Saturday!! Save the Date: Please Join Us!

ESP EMPOWERMENT ROUNDTABLE

ESP Reduction in Force (RIF) – What you Need to Know

Rob Lyons, IEA Associate General Counsel Saturday | July 18 | 10–11:30 a.m.

Attention education support professionals: You are invited to attend the IEA ESP Council’s first roundtable with special guest Rob Lyons who can answer some of your most pressing RIF questions.

Please join us as we learn, discover and advocate for ESP throughout Illinois. Your ESP Council is here to support you during this trying time and beyond. If you have any questions or would like more information, please visit http://www.ieaespcouncil.com.

Join the Zoom Meeting ID: 361 562 2707 Password: 4dkz5f

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Two Great Webinar Opportunities!

Tips & Tricks on How to Effectively Utilize Video Conferencing Platforms

Thursday, July 23, 2020 | 7:00pm – 8:00pm EST

Unprecedented times call for creative ways to stay connected with family, friends, colleagues and students. In this webinar participants will learn how to effectively utilize video conferencing platforms. Learnings will include customizing settings using Zoom or Google Meets, adding add-ons to enhance user experience on the Google Meets platform, understanding the difference in features when using a computer versus a tablet or mobile device, and learning how to access virtual meetings from your Gmail account. 

Presenter(s):
Sabina Ellis, Data Entry Manager, NJEA- Essex County

Register Now!

It Takes a Whole School to Support a Whole Child – Harnessing Social and Emotional Learning to Support the Well-Being of Education Support Professionals During the COVID-19 Crisis

Thursday, August 20, 2020 | 7:00pm – 8:00pm EST

It takes a whole village to support a whole child, and the strain on our school communities, including our education support professionals, is unprecedented. In this webinar, Dr. Chris Cipriano, Assistant Professor and Director of Research at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, will provide social and emotional learning (SEL) strategies to support ESPs within the school ecosystem to navigate the challenging emotions of these rapidly evolving times. Participants will have the opportunity to explore their complex feelings surrounding the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and learn strategies for harnessing emotions to cope in healthy and productive ways. Resources for building resilience will be provided and tips for practicing self-care will be tailored to support the unique needs identified by participants.

Presenter(s):
Christina Cipriano, Ph.D., Ed.M., Assistant Professor, Yale Child Study Center Director of Research, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Yale School of Medicine

Register Now!

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Save the date: ESP Empowerment Roundtable

Please join us!

ESP Empowerment Roundtable

ESP Reduction in Force (RIF) – What you Need to Know
Rob Lyons, IEA Associate General Counsel
Saturday | July 18 | 10–11:30 a.m.


Attention education support professionals:
You are invited to attend the IEA ESP Council’s first roundtable with special guest Rob Lyons who can answer some of your most pressing RIF questions. Please join us as we learn,
discover and advocate for ESP throughout Illinois. Your ESP Council is here to support you
during this trying time and beyond. If you have any questions or would like more information, please visit http://www.ieaespcouncil.com.


Join the Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 361 562 2707
Password: 4dkz5f

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Webinar: Safely Returning to In-Person Instruction

About this event

Rights and Considerations for Educators

Join us for an informative webinar about returning to in-person instruction with NEA’s Office of General Counsel and Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy teams.

In this webinar, we’ll discuss:

  • Recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health experts;
  • Educator rights and accommodations; and
  • What educators and NEA affiliates can do to ensure safe, healthy schools and campuses.
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Vice President Biden to Address NEA RA

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden ( Former Vice President ) and NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia during Presidential Candidates Forum at the 2019 NEA Representative Assembly in Houston, Texas. JULY 5, 2019

If you could ask him a question about the issues that matter most to you, your students, and your community, what would it be?

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NEA 2020 Representative Assembly

For the first time in its more than 160-year history, the National Education Association (NEA) will host a virtual Representative Assembly, a necessary and prudent safeguard for its delegates during a global pandemic.

“NEA’s Board of Directors has decided to convert the 2020 NEA RA into a virtual meeting, which is our safest option,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “We cannot take the risk of educators becoming infected and spreading the virus to students, their families and colleagues, or their communities. We look forward to the 2021 RA, where we can hopefully once again come together to set policy and chart the direction of NEA business.”

Nearly 8,000 educator delegates from every state will come together virtually during NEA’s 99th Representative Assembly (RA) on July 2-3, 2020, with a streamlined agenda, packed with major speakers who will address the many crises public education faces during one of the most trying times in our history.

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What benefits does IEA NEA offer you? Listen and click to find out!

Visit IEA Members Benefits to learn more about all the amazing things your dues dollars offer you! Using your member benefits will help you earn back your dues dollars. Let your IEA NEA membership work for you!!
This NEA Webinar will walk you through the amazing things NEA has to offer you. I encourage you to use your member benefits and earn back your dues dollars. Click to go to your member login page and begin saving.
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You won’t want to miss this tonight!

Tonight at 7pm CT. You won’t want to miss this event tonight.

“We Rise Together”

Join the NEA family at 8 pm EST on July 1st 2020 as we launch the first ever virtual Human and Civil Rights Awards celebration. Tune in on this pivotal evening to honor the outstanding work of this year’s honorees.

#NEAHCRAwards #WeRiseTogether

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Summer Justice Series: Kick-Off Tonight

Colleagues,

As you have heard, our Center for Social Justice is offering a Summer Justice Series Camp throughout the summer. This is a phenomenal opportunity for professional development and we wanted to make sure everyone had it on their radar. To register for the Summer Justice Series, please visit: https://neaedjustice.org/summerjustice/. The kick-off begins tonight at 5:00pm. Please see additional information below and we hope to “see” you there!

The National Education Association’s Center for Social Justice invites you to join us for a powerful kick-off to the Summer Justice Series on June 29th at 5pm ET/ 2pm PT

Gather around the (virtual) campfire to warm up and welcome one another as we kick-off the Summer Justice Series with:

  1. A special opening by renowned comedian and actress, Kym Whitley.
  2. A discussion on addressing anti-Blackness and achieving educational freedom with author and researcher, Dr. Bettina Love.
  3. And a closing dance party with world-renowned DJ Kemit.
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In Our Desire To Get Kids Back To School, It’s Selfish To Not Consider The Health/Safety Of Educators

Like so many parents, even though fall is still a few months away, I’ve been thinking non-stop about WTF is going to happen when (and if) schools reopen. Will my kids’ school district be able to offer options that seem educationally and socially appropriate while also keeping my kids safe? Could we handle another potentially disastrous few months of distance learning? What would the risks be to my children if I did end up sending them back?

My instinct right now is that there is no way returning to school can be made safe enough for me to send my children back. I mean, enclosed spaces are known vectors of COVID-19, and half of the grown ups I see walking around town can’t properly wear a mask—how the heck would a room full of third graders pull this off? I just can’t imagine that school would be a safe or a happy place for my kids.

But. The other thing that I don’t really talk about is that my husband is a teacher, and I’m worried sick about him having to go back to work. My husband loves his job, and his students love him back. His school has very successfully implemented distance learning and he diligently sat at his desk at home from March-June delivering awesome virtual lessons to his middle school students.

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Celebrating ESPs

ESPs are an integral part in the success of our students. Many ESPs go beyond their job description, to make a difference in both schools and communities.

Check out these great ESP Resources:

  • ESP Coloring Books-English and Spanish
  • A Guide to Celebrate National Education Support Professionals Day
  • ESP: Ensuring Student and School Success Hand Out Card
  • ESP: School Superheroes Hand Out Card
  • ESP: Ensuring Student and School Success Learning Poster
  • Celebrate ESP Day Learning Poster
  • ESP School Superheroes: Keeping Students and Schools Safe Learning Poster
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Tacoma schools superintendent gets raise at same meeting paraeducators are laid off

The Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors on Thursday approved a new contract for Superintendent Carla Santorno, which includes a salary increase of around $9,000.

The decision drew criticism when, immediately after the approval of the superintendent’s new contract, the school board also voted to approve layoffs for numerous paraeducators.

“Frankly, it feels like a slap in the face when her monthly salary is what most paras make in a year,” Kari Madden, a 13-year Tacoma paraeducator who had her hours cut next year, told The News Tribune through text. “I recognize she has a tough job, however I struggle to see the rationalization of that amount she was making before but especially taking a large raise during a pandemic.”

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2020 One Conference Canceled

2020 One Conference: Due to the COVID 19 situation, the 2020 One Conference will not be taking place as planned this year. Some of the constituency groups are planning to offer periodic virtual sessions to their members over the course of the year in place of the conference.  Look for the conference to return on October 1-2, 2021.

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If you have student loan debt or if your children do…or will in the future. This may be the most important webinar you can attend.

[Webinar] Student Debt Relief for Educators Now

AVAILABLE TIMES

Thu, Jun 25, 3:00pm–4:00pm EDT-Notice Eastern timeThu, Jun 25, 7:00pm–8:00pm EDT-Notice Eastern timeJoin experts in student loan law to help you:

  • Lower your student loan payments before the payment suspension expires in September 2020;
  • Fight for broader suspension and loan cancellation in current COVID relief legislation;
  • Put yourself on the path to get your current debt canceled under the Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs.

Together we can create a plan to combat your debt, advocate for urgent relief action from Congress, and elect future leaders who support canceling student debt and reforming the student loan system.

FYI-A Note From Me – I am currently enrolled in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Please if you have student loans, or your kids have student loans….or they will in the future, please attend this webinar to find out more information.