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In the Issue:  COMPLETE YOUR BARGAINING SURVEY and JOIN OR UPGRADE WEAPAC MEMBERSHIP TODAY!

  1. HEA Responses to Lifting Mask Mandate 
  2. King County Schools Response Team Memo
  3. Fully Fund Our COLAs - Contact Olympia Today 
  4. Upcoming Events and Activities | Note: new WEA Guest Teacher Conference
  5. COVID Safety Concerns Form - Report Your Needs Here

March 4, 2022

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Dear Supporter,
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We need your voice in planning and carrying out this year’s contract negotiations.  A special edition of the EFocus arrived in your boxes on March 1 that contained the HEA Bargaining SurveyPlease set aside time this weekend to complete it.  Your team needs to hear your preferences for how funding from Olympia should be spent. 
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Our bargainers need the visibility of our HEA members as we ramp up for contract negotiations.  Please sign up to be a bargaining support team (BST) lead for your building or program.  The first order of business will be signing up new members, getting updated personal contact information, and ensuring everyone has an HEA Red for Ed t-shirt.  We hope you will enjoy bringing members and the community together to participate in our Unity Art Building April 16-17 at Highline High School.  If you love art, this would a great year to sign up to be a BST lead.
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With the bond to update our high schools on the horizon, WEAPAC contributions are needed now more than ever.  Pro-education, pro-union candidates can help drive levy and bond supporters to the polls.  It is likely no coincidence that last fall our levy passed by over 70% and in our local city races, HEA and WEA worked to get out the vote for our endorsed progressive candidates (five of seven who won their races!).  Please join fellow union activists by signing up or raising your contribution rate for WEAPAC! Contribution options are stepped and start as low as $2.25/month.  
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In solidarity,
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Sandy

1. HEA Responses to Lifting Mask Mandate

In a survey conducted last month, continued mask wearing was important to over two-thirds of the 400 HEA members.  Based on that, the Executive Board will be recommending to the Rep Council to recommend the bargaining team work to achieve mandatory masking until the end of the school year.  This will be debated and voted on at Monday’s Rep Council meeting.  Rep Council Meetings are open to all members.  Email Secretary Katie Utesch for the link to attend.  
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Working with area local presidents, I signed on to a letter requesting the masking requirement stay in place until at least May 1 (two weeks after spring break for many locals).  Please share your thoughts on this important topic with your HEA Rep prior to Monday’s 4:30 meeting. 
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To understand the rationale for lifting the mask mandate, read the latest public health school response memo below and dig into their blog post. 
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Today the joint COVID Bargaining Team will spend an hour with the district outline the impacts of lifting the mask mandate.  Representing HEA on the team:  Jeb Binns (VP Eboard), Jocelyn Co (Covid Co-Captain/Central Office Specialist) Shawna Moore (Secondary), Jessica Swart (ESA/nurse), and Brandice Tranholt (Elementary) along with Sandy Hunt (Chair) and Elizabeth Beck (WEA UniServ).  Please email Sandy Hunt if you are a DL teacher and would like to learn more about HEA leadership opportunities. 
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2. King County Health School Response Team Memo

King County’s Local Indoor Mask Mandate to End After March 11.  A new blog post provides more detail about King County’s indoor mask order ending at the same time as the state’s order, after March 11, 2022. Masks will still be required in certain settings, including health care, corrections facilities, and long-term care facilities. Federal mask requirements will still apply to most public transit (such as King County Metro buses and Sound Transit Light Rail).  
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Lifting the indoor mask mandate does not mean COVID is over. It is very reasonable to continue to mask if you are at increased risk of COVID, are in contact with someone at high risk, out of consideration for people who may be at higher risk in public settings, or if you want to reduce your own risk for any reason.
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King County will not extend a local mask order for schools and childcares after the state lifts the requirement for masking in schools starting March 12, 2022. School districts, however, have the authority to set their own policies to control the spread of infectious diseases, such as mask regulations. School districts can make their own choices based on the circumstances where they are.
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PHSKC anticipates new guidance from the Washington State Department of Health to be issued next week, that may reflect changes in recommended mitigation strategies.  The School Response Team will share more next week and be available to answer your questions about these changes when they are posted. 
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Dr. Ben Danielson Answers Parents’ Questions About Vaccines for Kids 
Are you or do you know someone who is still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine for your child? Maybe you have some questions or concerns that still haven’t been answered.
Beloved local pediatrician Dr. Ben Danielson is here to help! In these videos, he answers some common questions from parents about the vaccines for kids, including:
  • Is the vaccine safe for kids? Are there long-term effects?
  • Will the vaccine affect puberty or fertility?
  • What is myocarditis? Will my kids be at risk of it after the vaccine?
  • Will the vaccine work against new variants?
  • When will kids younger than 5 be able to get the vaccine?
Additional Testing Resources for Families: At-Home (Rapid Antigen) tests.  Families and households can order additional free COVID-19 at-home test kits from the federal government and Washington State: 
Please have families administering over-the counter/rapid antigen tests at home read the instructions to double check the ages for which the tests can be used.  Different testing kits have different age requirements, and some, we have learned, are not approved for young children. Please use tests as directed per manufacturer's instructions.
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3. COLAs move forward but Senate still coming up short - Contact Olympia (again) today!

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Taking a virtual pay cut in the face of rising gas and grocery prices should not be something we are worried about.  Yet more than 2,500 educators have taken their time to tell state senators to match the House’s adequate 5.5% K-12 education COLA.  I am inviting you to join them.
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We need to make sure a PreK-12 COLA of at least 5.5% is in the final budget.  The House and Senate have now both passed their budget proposals and are working together in conference committee to come to a joint proposal.  This behind-closed-doors process could take until next Monday and we won’t know if they will include the 5.5% until they reveal the final proposal.  In the meantime, we need to keep up the pressure.
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We can’t miss this opportunity to ensure educator pay keeps up.  We have this opportunity because WEA-PAC members like us have done tremendous work to elect pro-education, pro-union candidates who understand the importance of COLAs in recruiting and retaining great educators.  Now is a great time to join WEA-PAC or increase your monthly contribution.  Together through WEA-PAC we elected lawmakers who know that COLAs are critical, and we can continue to win for our schools, our students, and our professions.
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We are stronger when we make our voices heard together!
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4. Student Behavior Support 

WE NEED YOUR INPUT THIS WEEK!!!

  •  March 8 @ 3:30 PM, 4:00 PM 

  •  March 10 @ 3:00 PM, 3:30 PM, 4:00 PM

  •  March 11 @ 2:00 PM

The new Student Behavior Support Committee needs to hear from  you! Join us to give your input as we work with the district to plan for building level supports and professional development.  ESCs are provided to all who attend and complete our survey.  

Same zoom link for all three dates.

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5. Upcoming Events and Activities

Find details and links on the HEA Events Page 

  • NEW!  HSD Job Fair (03.05.22)HSD is recruiting Guest Teachers and Paras https://www.applitrack.com/highlineschools/onlineapp/
  • HEA Representative Council Meeting (03.07.22 @ 4:30). Appointment Ratification Vote for HS Executive Board Representative Amanda Stanley.  Nominations will open for HEA Officer Positions for SY 2022-24 (HS Rep, Elementary Rep, Secretary) To attend, members email HEA Secretary, Katie Utesch at least 24 hours in advance for the zoom link.  Note: Executive Sessions are closed to members.
  • NEW! Student Behavior Support-Your Input Needed! (March 8 @ 3:00, 3:30, 4:00 repeated March 10 same times and March 11 @ 2:00).  The new Student Behavior Support Committee needs to hear from  you.  Join us to give your input as we work with the district to plan for building level supports and professional development.  ESCs are provided to all who attend and complete our survey.  Same zoom link for all three dates.
  • UPDATE! Secondary Student-Led Conferences (Meeting dates and times may vary by school).  Secondary student-led conferences safety protocols should at a minimum match what in place during November if no revisions to the SLC have been made.  That includes ensuring families have the choice to attend virtually.  If the SLT has determined that conferences will be conducted in a manner different than the fall, then a new event safety provisions must be developed, and all staff trained and families informed.  
  • Elementary Trimester Non-paid Day (March 11).  This is not a workday for those who work in elementary schools.  Those with split assignments should either place a non-work day on January 28 or March 11. Please talk with your administrator.  
  • UPDATE! WEA Guest Teacher Professional Development (March 12 9AM- 1PM) Please attend and promote this 4-module PD designed specifically for our substitute members. An appreciation stipend will be offered to HEA guest teacher members who attend all sessions after attendance confirmation. Register here today! 
  • HSD School Board Meeting (03.16.22 @ 6:00PM)  Held at Central Office and Live streamed.  Please sign up to speak by noon on Wednesday.  
  • Rainier Educators of Color Network Meetup (March 17th 4:30 PM – 6 PM)  Looking forward to seeing you at the next RECN monthly meetup.  Gladiators for Equity and Co-conspirators welcome !

Register here to attend!  

  • VEBA Retirement Readiness Seminars (March 21, repeated March 29 both @ 4:30).  This is designed to help you get the most out of your VEBA account. See the HEA Events page.
  • Gold Star Bash (March 24 @ 6:00-7:00PM).  An in-person event is planned for the SeaTac Community Center. Doors open at 5:30PM with the event running 6:00-7:00PM.  Preordered tickets $25/at the door $30.  The address is: 13735 24th Ave S. SeaTac, WA.
  • UPDATE !  Join the RECN Black Linguistic Justice Book Study (TBD April-May). RECN, Rainier Educators of Color Network, with the help of Highline Education Association and Rainier UniServ Council, is covering the cost of the books and shipping.  Clockhours. Please complete this interest form if you would like to join
  • NEW! HEA Members Benefit Bonanza! (April 11)  Learn more about financial savings, insurance, VEBA and retirement benefits you are eligible to access by being an HEA member and HSD educator. Please zoom in to meet the experts and get your questions answered. Presenters are also available to schedule individual follow up meetings to address your personal needs.
  • NEW! Unity Art Build with Federal Way & Seattle Education Association (All day on April 16-17@ Highline High School).  Rain or Shine.  Food trucks!  Artists!  Print-making! Solidarity!  Families and community members welcome!

6. Use Our Safety Concerns Report Form

You are not alone! Share your COVID SAFETY CONCERN with your covid co-captain and your building administrator, (send one email to both). If it is not resolved, report the issue to HR using the “Safety Concern Form”.  This link is actively monitored by HR and HSD to resolve member COVID SAFETY issues. Please navigate through the Frontline Central to access and complete the link.
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