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April 26, 2020

Community Resources, HEA Substitute Teachers, HEA Business, HEA Elections, Impact Bargain, Gen Ed/Special Ed, Renewal/Resignations, WEA PAC, WEA PD, Clarification/Contact Students, Tech Support for Families

Dear HEA Members,

In another signal of our upside-down world, please keep in mind most of us went into this profession out of a passion for working with children or young people.  We now, however, are spending much of our work week with adults!   A year ago, I recognized that this was going to be a big shift for me this school year but had the time to make a mental and emotional adjustment.  If you are experiencing some challenges or tensions working in this environment, please recognize this and give both yourself and your colleagues space and grace.  HEA and HPS have co-created a flowchart to help you navigate sources of support depending on the nature of your concern.

Please recognize that although you may have worked with your team for many years, you are likely working differently.   Thinking back (in my case, way back) to that psych class you may have taken years ago and “Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development.”  Five stages all teams cycle through are: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.  Here’s a short article for workplace teams that you might relate to.

As we move into week 7 of 14 of crisis teaching, please remember we are each doing the best we can under difficult circumstances.  If you are not being provided with the flexibility you need to do your job, please problem solve with your administrator.  If that is not working or you are not comfortable doing that, please reach out to your HEA Reps and cc me.  We must prioritize our health and pace ourselves or we will not be able to support the health and well-being of our own families and that of our students.

Finally, at the school, district, and state level, Labor-Management relationships have never been more important.  We continue to strengthen our relationship at the district level by problem-solving using all the tools we have available.  Please show support and appreciation to your HEA Reps who have been taking on that important work at the building level.  They have been tasked with working out how the existing contract (CBA) and the new agreements are being applied at your school or in your program.  If at any time they need support to interpret the CBA or these agreements, they can reach out to me or our executive board……and If your team is looking for a new way to build a labor-management partnership, they might consider approaching the admin team with the idea of jointly attending a free CSTP training being held on Tuesday, May 19 (1-4PM).
Now more than ever, it is important that we take time for ourselves and for our loved ones.  Please ask for help if you need it….please offer to help if you can!

In solidarity,


Community Resources.   If you are looking for community resources, you can turn to the district website.  This includes support for rent, utilities, food, mental health, healthcare, technology and more.  On the Staff Hub, you can also find a link to a shared Google Doc with a more comprehensive list for all staff to access. If you do not see a resource you're aware of in the more comprehensive lists, please contact Val Allan

You may also wish to access or direct families to Washington Law Help which provides legal help and information in multiple languages to Washington residents who cannot afford a lawyer.  They continue to update information on immigrant rights to healthcare during the crisis. They also provide updates on the Public Charge Rule including the impact of this rule on immigrant access to healthcare related to the Coronavirus.  

HEA Substitute Teachers.   By the end of April, HEA will have distributed $40,000 in emergency aid to HEA guest teacher members and the several non-members who requested it.  Letters went out this week to the remaining guest teacher members who we have not been able to reach.  A special shout out to those dedicated guest teachers who actually declined the aid in order to provide more to others.  WEA is also looking at ways to support our guest teacher members in the coming weeks as they are the only union members in our local who were laid off during the school closure.  Due to the federal CARES act, the state has opened up unemployment benefits to many more substitute members who would not have previously qualified.  Applications for benefits can be accessed here and should be retroactive to the first day of unemployment reported by the district.  Finally, if you were working in a long-term secondary substitute position on March 13, be sure to check that you were paid for that non-student work day.  I encourage any of our long-term substitutes who were out of work during the last week or two of March to email me.

HEA Business.  Our next HEA Executive Board meeting will be held on Monday, April 27@4:00pm and the next Rep Council meeting will be held on Monday, May 4 @ 4:00.  If you are interested in attending either or both of these as an observer, please let one of your representatives know by noon that day.  These meetings are open to member observers.  This month, I appreciated attending a number of HEA building meetings.  Please contact your HEA Rep to find out when your May HEA Building meeting will be held. 

HEA Elections. Nominate yourself for HEA Executive Board High School Representative.  Candidates will be given the opportunity to share a 2-minute speech at the May 4th Rep Council zoom meeting at 4PM and can submit a 75-word candidate statement for the electronic ballot by May 6. Voting for Executive Board will be by electronic ballot on the week of May 11-15.  Five one-year positions for HEA Representative on the Rainier UniServ Council will be nominated and voted in at the HEA Rep Council meeting.  RUC candidates will also be given the opportunity to make a 2-minute speech.  Please email Debby Strayer and sign in by 4:30PM on May 4th to run for either of these positions.

Impact Bargaining.
  HEA and HPS are meeting regularly to discuss reasonable workload expectations for remote learning, and communicating agreements as we reach them. Examples include the 3/17 memo from HR where you were directed  to transfer to central office the task of re-contacting families who have not yet been reached, and in the joint Q&A presented in the 4/25 EFocus.  If you or your teammates are feeling overwhelmed by the number of meetings or other work expectations, please review the linked documents and talk to an HEA Building or Program Rep.

General Ed/Special Ed Support.  We are in the middle of actively bargaining the impact of remote learning workload issues for our special education teachers and ESAs.  Classroom teachers can support our LRC and ESA colleagues by providing accessible assignments for students with IEPs.  Please ask your special education teacher for guidance on how to adapt your assignments if you have not done so already. Collaboration with special education service providers can take place through email, phone, Zoom, etc.  They are not required to attend weekly department, grade level meetings or PLCs beyond their own.  Finally, members should work with principals to relieve the Special Education Team at their site of as many building-based duties as possible.  For example, shifting advisory students around so case managers are only advising students on their caseload would be a best practice.  Principals can also consider exempting special education teachers and ESAs from building-based requirements to allow them to work on new federal/state/district mandates.

Contract Renewals and Resignations.  Through the hard work of HR, the number of members receiving lay-off notices shrank considerably on Friday.  Some of these added to the number of building displacements.  HR has been collecting displacement preferences from those moving or potentially moving schools, so please email HR if you are in that situation and have not been given an opportunity to express your preferences already. 

For everyone planning to continue working in HPS next year, we anticipate 2020-21 contracts should land in your school email on or about May 1.  Please sign and return contracts electronically within 14 days.  If you know you are resigning or retiring, HR would appreciate knowing that ASAP so displaced members can be placed out of the “pool” and into specific assignments and so that laid off members can be recalled.

$20.20 for 2020.  Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, WEA PAC can make a huge difference for our families, our students and our profession. Janie White, former Rainier UniServ Council leader and WEA Vice President, recently emailed you to share the exciting news that, in addition to educators, we have a number of labor partners including  nurses, firefighters, and other labor members stepping up to run for office.  What’s a simple way for you to help?  With such a large number of Washingtonians facing difficult financial circumstances right now, a one-time special donation to our political action fund will return a lifetime of benefits.  Over the years, our PAC has allowed us to build a pro-education legislative majority that finally passed the McCleary Promise.  Use this link to make a special donation for 2020 to help us continue to fight for full school funding in our battle for racial justice and economic equality.

WEA PD.  Please see this link for information about the May 1-16, 2020 WEA Certification online trainings. All of the content is also housed on the WEA website. WEA professional development is often free and typically comes with clock hours.  These trainings are only open to WEA members. Note: they have added some Saturday options based on member feedback from April offerings.

Google Platform Clarification.  You may have missed that HPS recently arranged for 1000 Google Voice accounts to contact students and families from your phone or computer using your district Gmail account.  Please access this service, particularly special education teachers and ESAs, if it is right for you.  To request a Google Voice account, you must use your district email to submit a Google Voice Account Request

Note: Google Meet (formerly known as Google Hangout), is not permitted for staff-to-student communication because the district is not able to restrict student-to-student video transmission and prevent inappropriate interaction on that platform.  Finally, If contacting students one-on-one, be sure to follow all district guidelines.

Contacting Students One-on-One.  HPS updated their guidance for contacting students one-on-one via Zoom or other district approved platforms.  They were concerned that requiring a parent/guardian or another student on the call could be a barrier to contact.  You might be concerned about being in a virtual meeting with students. 

In this regard, HEA leadership has been collaborating with Teamsters Leadership who asked us to share with you that there are classified educators interested in supporting you.  Please contact your administrator to access classified support -- which may include inviting them to join you in virtual meetings with students, delivering instruction you have preplanned to students or even helping with scoring assignments if appropriate.  If you have challenges making arrangements, please email me for help making connections.  The new district guidance was shared in an April 21 memo found on the Coronavirus Staff Hub page
Tech Support for Families. The district has also created a webpage for tech support for families. If your student or family needs help with digital device, this is another source of information you may want to use.  Another possibility is to ask your administrator to provide a tech-savvy classified member to help you use this resource with families needing this support.