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In this Issue:  In-Person Learning, GM Meeting, Bargaining Topics, Vaccine Eligibility, Safety Committee Compensation, BLM@School, RECN, NEA Benefits

February 12, 2021

Dear HEA Members,

A small number of you, to start, are the ones being asked to bring your labor through the school house doors.  It is you, we need to listen to.  While I cannot guarantee that the implementation of the agreements we have reached will keep all virus-free, what I can verify is that I have done my best to listen and learn, not only from the experts, but from you.  Our team has fiercely advocated, and we have used every resource at our disposal to get everything you need, short of a vaccine.

Last spring we mourned the loss of the school year as we realized we would not be back in the classroom with our students. At the end of this month, many of us will experience the emotions of June and then must be ready for September a few short days later. What we had set up as some sort of normal has once again been taken from us.  We must name that and give ourselves time and grace during these emotional times to deal with that.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support or help problem-solving your unique situation.

In solidarity, 

Sandy

President

Highline Education Association


In-Person Learning.  One thing that is certain is that the district is planning to open school buildings to pre-K through first graders starting on March 1.  To prepare for that day, they have come to the bargaining table and made a good faith effort to address the impact of in-person instruction on our working conditions.  HEA nurses, Teamsters facilities, and District as well as HEA leadership have been working together on a regular basis, using the latest public health guidance, to create plans that will minimize the health risks of working in-person. 

A second thing that is certain is that the district’s plan does not depend on Highline staff being vaccinated prior to in-person instruction.  This is because the CDC, L&I, and DOH guidelines do not depend on vaccinations for schools to open.  Since December 17, opening buildings no longer even depends on low transmission rates.  Finally, the UK and other variants are being monitored but do not appear to be pushing transmission rates up in our area at this time.  (As of this writing the case rates in the four areas comprising the Highline service areas are between 214 and 276 per 100,000 which falls in the Moderate range per the K-12 Decision Tree.


HEA General Membership Meeting.  At the February 23rd GMM, it will be important to listen to those returning to our Elementary Buildings, support each other in the examining the guidelines and evaluate the plans reached in our agreements.  To prepare for that work, we ask that you participate in the following:

  • All members are asked to read the agreements that will arrive in your personal email on Sunday, Feb 21.
  • HEA Elementary Members, Guest Teachers, and anyone who will be working with students in elementary buildings this spring in any capacity are invited to register for a zoom informational session scheduled for Monday, Feb 22 from 4:30PM-done.  (Zoom room open at 4:00PM)
  • All HEA Members are invited to register and attend the February 23rd HEA General Membership Meeting from 4:30PM-done.  We are using a webinar to present the public health guidelines and the agreements we reached with the district for implementing them along with other terms.
  • We will then be discussing whether public health guidelines are sufficient and the agreements reached with HSD follow these guidelines.  If the membership agrees that they are, then we will proceed with the March 1 opening of Elementary Buildings.  If they are deemed insufficient, the next step will be to return to bargaining to identify what additional terms we need in order to transition to in-person learning.

Recent Bargaining & Problem-Solving Topics.

  • Access to vaccinations at a HSD partner vaccine clinic for all members who are being called to work in schools.  This vaccination date will take place in the NEXT phase, and all those working with students will be eligible regardless of your age.
  • Transition days:  Most of two days for all elementary teachers and two additional days for those going to teach in buildings or those changing grade levels remotely.
  • Report card window expansion.
  • All Elementary Health and Safety Plans reviewed by our nurses.  Many thanks to Stacy Harris, Madeline Pattern, and Michelle Jervis as well as to Director Elaine Irons Hunt.

Vaccine Eligibility. Have you been called to work in person? The district is currently generating a list of all HSD staff who will be working in person and have not been vaccinated yet.  Regardless of your age, if you are working with students or families in-person, you will be eligible for vaccinations using the district partnership with St. Anne’s Hospital (formerly Highline Hospital).  If you have already been vaccinated, we encourage you to contact human.resources@highlineschools.org so they can remove your name from the list.

Currently eligible for vaccinations are Washington residents over 65 and those over 50 living in a home with three or more generations.  At this time, vaccine supplies are irregular but you can still sign up using the state Phase Finder link and with your healthcare provider such as Kaiser Permanente.  

If you are a district nurse, a social worker, a counselor providing in-person services, or if you are (or will soon be working with our highest need students in buildings), sign up for your vaccination NOW.  The goal of the current phase is to limit transmission to Washington State’s vulnerable populations, and you are essential workers carrying out physical and mental health services with vulnerable students.


Safety Committee Compensation?  HEA is encouraging Shared Leadership Teams to review how much time members of Safety Committees and the COVID Co-captains are spending on this vital work, and consider what compensation or time may be warranted.  Principals in some buildings have been offering extra service contracts for meetings and other safety planning done outside the workday.  Conducting all safety committee work on Wednesdays during Collaborative Time is another option.


Rainier Educators of Color Network.  Members of the CORE RECN TEAM have done an incredible job writing and assembling Black Lives Matter at School resources for PreK-Gr 12.  Please take advantage of these terrific instructional materials for your students.  

Then please know that you are invited to attend RECN meetings on the third Thursday throughout the school year to find support for BIPOC Educators.  While some time is spent in the whole group, there is a breakout group for Allies, Accomplices and Co-conspirators to support growth in our practice.  

A Force to be RECN With!  Last Saturday was an inspirational day spent with our beautiful and brilliant students and learning from colleagues and leaders new ways to meet students’ instructional, relational, and emotional needs.  Our membership truly appreciates Mr. Delbert Richardson, Dr. Bettina Love, Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, student leaders, and, in particular, the RECN Core Team who successfully hosted over 300 people at their second annual equity conference.  We are looking forward to next year’s event already!


NEA Benefits for Members.  California Casualty, longtime partner with NEA Member Benefits, appreciates our dedication to our students. In honor of your commitment, local Cal Cas Field Marketing Manager Michelle Hawkins is offering a $25 Amazon.com gift card when receiving an auto quote.  California Casualty supports educators and their program is one of many benefits of HEA membership so to request your no-obligation quote using this link.


WEA Pre-Retirement Seminar: Taking Charge of Your Future! 

March 25th 4:30pm-6pm or March 27th 9am-12pm

For more information click here

Register here today!