Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Plainedge Federation of Teachers,
With the shutdown of our schools, I'm sure that many of our members have questions pertaining to their employment and the possible ramifications of a long term closure. Here is what the PFT Leadership has been working and concentrating on over the past week or so.
1. The PFT Union Leadership and Plainedge Administration are in constant contact. There has never been a lapse in communication, and the union leadership has been involved in every decision making process that involves our working conditions and benefits.
2. Two weeks ago, NYSUT union members from across the state urged the Governor and other elected officials to close schools to protect students and members. Clearly the message was heard.
3. Online teaching via Google is undoubtedly challenging for us all, but please rest assured that the PFT Leadership is working with administration to ensure that it works and doesn't over burden our educators or students.
4. The District has done an effective job of communicating to parents each step of the way. In their messages to the community, they have made changes in programs and services very clear, plainly communicated the availability of meals, and addressed special education concerns.
5. If we all stick to the quarantine and follow social distancing advice, we will be doing our part to stop the spread of the virus and "flatten the curve". Simply by heeding the warning of authorities to stay home and limit exposure, our union is doing its part to stop this virus from getting any worse.
6. Testing centers have been set up at Jones Beach and Stony Brook University. The site will operate from 8AM to 8PM by APPOINTMENT ONLY. First, call 1-888-364-3065 to schedule an appointment and be pre-screened over the phone. If you suspect that you may have been exposed, please contact your primary care doctor.
7. All school districts across Nassau County, Long Island, the State, and the Nation are handling things differently. Thankfully, here in Plainedge, we have a strong collective bargaining agreement, which protects our salaries, benefits, and working conditions.
8. It is important that we all remain calm and positive, especially those with children at home. They may not understand what's happening, but they do sense our anxiety and fear. This will eventually pass and normalcy will return.
9. You may have heard past radio and Pandora ads from Long Island Teachers that say "Long Island Teachers.org, Teacher leaders in the Community." Your neighbors may be looking to you for leadership in this difficult time. Please understand that what you say and do have ramifications which can impact people's thoughts and feelings. Their employment uncertainty can lead to feelings of resentment. Our responsibility right now is to remind them that we are consistently working every day, to ensure our student's educational needs are being addressed.
10. We should be proud of ourselves for being so diligent and hard-working during these challenging times. There is an old saying: "Tough times don't last, but tough people do." This pandemic will surely bring out the best in us. We will become closer as union family and as a Plainedge community. Please be safe and healthy over the coming weeks, and do your best to look for the positives in life all around us. Our profession warrants at least that much! In solidarity.