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April 11, 2020

School Board, Substitute Teachers, Leaves & Healthcare, Impact Bargain, WEA PD, Our EAP, NEA Student Debt Webinar, WideOpenSchool

Dear HEA Members,

Blue sky…warm weather…clean air…I hope you have been able to find quality time to support your own health this week. 

The governor’s message on Monday to not reopen school sites has helped reduce our uncertainty as to what we need to plan for during the next ten weeks. At the same time you may have experienced a sense of loss or even grief, realizing we won’t be back together teaching a favorite unit we had planned, coaching our students for a musical, concert or sport, or just spending time with our students.  During the next ten weeks, I predict we will use our ingenuity to create new ways to reach our students, to nurture and support each other, to teach and learn together, and to celebrate all we are becoming.

The other big change is Congress has enacted the CARES Act, a COVID-19 relief law.  Please read below for more information.  Congress has approved a one-time payment based on income, expansion of unemployment benefits, student loan suspension, and additional options for leave should you or a loved one contract COVID 19.  More is needed and we encourage you to find ways to support social services and the arts, labor partners and small businesses in the coming weeks.

May you discover exciting new ways to do the things you love!  Please reach out if you need support or have questions.

Find joy…Give grace…Stay safe,


HPS School Board 4/15 Meeting. See the elected officials who make decisions and policies that impact our work and our schools in action.  Live public comment will not be available for virtual board meetings, but your comments, questions, or concerns are welcome. If you wish to address the Board, please email your statement to Kyle Minaglia  by 12:00 p.m on April 15. Zoom online meetings begin at 6PM. Password: 472645 or dial in 1-669-900-6833 Webinar ID: 278-932-789.

Support for Substitute Teachers.
  The Employment Security Dept. is hoping to implement the federal CARES Act by April 18. If you have been denied benefits for any reason, please apply again. Do not apply stand-by. Include information for your entire work history (even out-of-state employment) over the last four quarters. You should be eligible for benefits back to the date you were laid off.  Please look for an email in your district account that explains how to start the process if you have not done so.  Contact HR if there is any question about your status as a HPS employee. Once you qualify for any amount of unemployment benefits, the federal government will be adding an extra $600/week back-paid to March 26 and authorized until July 31.

We have been attempting to reach every HEA guest teacher to determine if you need support from our crisis fund.  Please contact Portia Robinson if you are a substitute in Highline in order to confirm your status with us and access these funds. 

Leaves and Healthcare.  More information about employee leave and guest teacher healthcare will be included in next week’s EFocus. Please remember to email Human Resources and your administrator if you need to access to leave anytime during this health crisis as the CARES Act has expanded leave options.

Impact Bargain Update.  We continue to meet regularly with the district regarding time and responsibilities that we believe need to be negotiated, given the school closure. This week, we discussed the following topics, and expect a joint communication related to several of these issues will be issued early next week. The items around which we did not come to shared understading will continue to be addressed via Labor-Management and/or Impact Bargaining.

•    Meetings (such as IPT, SLT, PBIS and PCT) as well as a potential new practice of office hours.
•    Assessment/feedback/scoring/grading expectations as workload drivers.
•    Directives that require meeting a certain number of times or holding a new type of meeting.
•    Equity and access for students and its implication for workload, for example, on ESAs, SpEd teachers, and Gen Ed teachers who have students with IEPs or are newcomer ELLs.
•    Teacher-directed, Team-directed, and Principal-directed time in your week.
WEA PD - Sign up Early.  Remember, HEA will reimburse any WEA or NEA course registration fees upon confirmation of attendance.  Please email Portia Robinson with your documentation of payment.

After registering, within 24-48 hours of the course date, additional Zoom/Course information will be emailed to registrants for participation. However, WEA has been receiving reports of some of these emails being filtered as spam, so it would be wise to record the Zoom link you see on the screen immediately after registering. Also, be sure to check your spam folder if you don't see an email. Attendance will be taken during the online session. Clock hours will be provided.  Check out and then register here for upcoming courses on the PD Network.

Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Every HPS employee has access to our EAP which supports you, your spouse or domestic partner, and children up to age 26. You can access the EAP 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just call 800-777-4114 or login online at www.firstchoiceEAP.com using the username highlinesd.

NEA CARES about Your Student Debt.  Educators, and particularly educators of color, have been burdened by student debt for far too long.  And the COVID-19 crisis risks making that debt even more burdensome.
NEA will be hosting a live webinar, Student Loan Relief: What the COVID-19 Relief Law means for Student Loan Borrowers, on Tuesday, April 14 at 4 p.m.  Register here.

Congress has enacted the CARES Act, a COVID-19 relief law that includes big changes to those who have student debt.  For borrowers who have federal student loans, these changes include a suspension of interest and payments for from April 10, 2020 to September 30, 2020. NEA is still lobbying for a more expansive and more extended suspension of payments as well as also fighting to cancel some or all of our members’ federal student loans.

Join NEA for a Zoom webinar on April 14 at 4:00PM to discuss:
•    Details on the student loan provisions in the CARES Act;
•    What it means for you and what you should be thinking about doing with your student loans during the suspension period;
•    The support available to NEA members to help them manage their loans; and
•    What you can do to fight for broader suspension and cancellation.
Looking for One Portal to Multiple Universes?   Many of the online learning resources we know and love have banded together to create a resource called wide open school with a portal for Educators and for Families with students in grades PreK through 12th. Check this out and let me know what you think.