ICYMI: What follows is an edited and more generic archive of what members received over the summer in their email, and often tailored to local association situations.
Dear Fellow Association Members:
We don’t typically reach out in July, but this is that kind of year, isn’t it. But here is another update to Your Self-Care Package (YSCP)-- a message from your local Association leadership and Northern Utah UniServ. What follows is a re-cap about the legislative funding increase during the special session, COVID-19 leave and school start information and news about the election. As usual, we have included previous YSCPs and hope you find the information useful.
A Victory for Public Education in the Special Session
After all the doom and gloom about cuts up to 10%, the legislature voted during a Special Session to grow the public education budget by 2.2% over the current year, including a 1.8% increase in the per-student Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) and full funding of student enrollment growth. While not the 6% WPU increase passed during the General Session, the growth is significant in this COVID-19 environment.
“This was not an easy win…far from it,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews in an email to UEA leaders. “Even legislators in leadership are saying this increase would not have happened without the UEA. The groundwork laid by UEA members participating at Educator Day on the Hill during the General Session was critical, along with a lot of long hours and hard work by our UEA Legislative Team.”
The proposed budget uses $52 million from education economic stabilization, Medicaid restricted account, positive cash flow, budget reduction, and “working rainy day funds” ($500 million) – elimination of capital projects, operating reserves, using formal rainy-day funds to backstop 2020 funds.
Of note, while most departments experience significant cuts, the Public Education budget is up 1.3%, including a 1.8% increase in the WPU. Social Services is up 5% after cuts and add backs. These were the only two areas with increased budgets. UEA Executive Director Brad Bartels reported a conversation with a member of legislative leadership who called the gains for public education a direct result of UEA’s involvement. The UEA Legislative Team is continuing its work to build for the future by creating long-term, sustainable increases in education funding.
In addition to the budget increase for the upcoming school year, the legislature previously added statutory guarantees to automatically fund student enrollment growth and inflation in all future years, guarantees we’ve never had before. During the Special Session, legislators also included a make-up increase (HB5011), designating 10% of all new Education Fund revenue to the WPU before any other budget items are considered. These guarantees are conditional on voter approval this November of a Constitutional amendment allowing Income Tax to be used for certain Social Services programs, primarily to benefit children.
COVID-19: Leave and Accommodations
The last YSCP Update contained information regarding how to proceed if an educator tests positive for COVID-19 (included again below this update). In this update what follows is information about leave and accommodations associated with COVID-19 and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) emergency paid sick leave that is in addition to and may be used before using your other sick leave benefits when as outlined in the law. FFCRA does not diminish existing leave rights under employer policies. In effect through December 2020, FFCRA Leave may be used if the employee is unable to work (or telework) because of any of the following:
1. Employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to coronavirus;
2. Employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to coronavirus;
3. Employee is experiencing coronavirus symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
4. Employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to coronavirus; or who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to coronavirus;
5. Employee is caring for a son or daughter if a school or place of care has been closed due to coronavirus, or the childcare provider of the son or daughter is unavailable due to coronavirus; “Son or daughter,” as under the FMLA, includes a biological, foster, or adopted child, a stepchild, a child of a domestic partner, a legal ward, or the child of a person standing in loco parentis, under 18 years of age;
6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and Secretary of the Treasury.
In addition to the above specific conditions for FFCRA, there may be additional leave through Family Medical Leave (FMLA). There may also be accommodations associated with COVID-19 for employees whose health places them in a high risk category per COVID-19 or eligibility for Americans with Disabilities (ADA) consideration for high-risk conditions that intersect with COVID-19 such as: Chronic lung disease. Moderate to severe asthma. Serious heart conditions. Conditions that compromise immunity (e.g., cancer treatment, immune deficiencies, organ transplant).Diabetes. Kidney or liver disease. Hypertension. Severe obesity. Pregnant Individuals. People who are 65 or Older. Those living with/caring for individuals at high risk. Where there is not an accommodation right, the aforementioned paid leave rights under FFCRA and to the requirements and recommendations of state and local health departments could inform when considering what accommodations might be available. We’ll have some more information as a follow-up in our next update.
What is presented above is just a summary, so if you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact Curt at Northern Utah UniServ. Your districts are all working on this as they are putting together what returning to school looks like at the end of the summer.
Returning to School
As we said in the last update, your Association advocates for your voice and is asking questions regarding what school starting up again looks like in the fall. Districts have been working on frameworks for returning to school and have begun communicating some of that process either in emails to employees, surveys, board meetings or s with stakeholder groups such as the Association. As Districts plan reopening schools, procedures to provide accommodations to students and employees who are in the “high risk” health categories are being informed by what the Governor and State Office of Education released for requirements and recommendations for school reopening. In the latest version of the “Phased Guidelines for the General Public and Businesses to Maximize Public Health and Economic Reactivation,” the Governor includes the following language regarding schools operating in the fall if our health district is in the yellow or green risk phases and public schools are open:
Additional information is available at www.schools.utah.gov/coronavirus.
You can also see the letter and recommendations UEA President Heidi Matthews sent to the Governor and to USBE HERE and attached.
Of course, circumstances are fluid and evolving -- especially with this recent increase in cases in Cache County, but we are beginning to see more information taking shape. We know educators have concerns about all of this, and your Association will continue to be involved. Again if you have any questions, we will try our best to address them.
State and Local Elections
Representative Val Potter and Senator Lyle Hillyard have lost in their respective primaries. You can read in our endorsement in previous YSCPs how we hoped Representative Potter would retain his seat. And while the Association did not endorse Senator Hillyard, his experience and leadership on behalf of public education as Chair of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee will be missed. His role and efforts were important to the success of education funding mentioned at the top of this update. We could have been hopeful with lessons learned regarding tax reform and a new unique challenge ahead he would continue to listen to northern Utah educators, particularly, concerning public schools. We hope after November that we will have the representation northern Utah students and educators deserve and that we will again unite our voice in solidarity for our students and profession when we see that we don’t. Congratulations are in order to Republican primary winners Mike Petersen (House District 3) and Chris Wilson (Senate District 25). We look forward to visiting with them (as we will with other candidates) about the needs of public education as they prepare for the general election in November and beyond should they prevail then. UEA-endorsed Lt. Governor Spencer Cox also won his primary.
Northern Utah UniServ and Locals Stand Against Racism and Discrimination
We recognize that recent demonstrations across the country and the racial violence that they protest affect many of our colleagues, students, and their families. With our heightened awareness during recent events, with the values we espouse as an Association, and with the understanding we have regarding systemic racism, we stand together for equity and equality, and against prejudice and injustice.
We realize that these past several days --even weeks-- have been particularly difficult for our colleagues and students of color and those otherwise marginalized whose communities have decade after decade suffered injustice, discrimination, and inequality. We are firmly committed to uphold principles, policies, and practices of fairness and due process for all in a safe and supportive learning and working environment free of discrimination.
For any of our colleagues or students who may be hurting or need assistance during this time, please know that we are here for you. If your Association can help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us as you may see the need.
Mike Mudrow, President
Northern Utah UniServ Council
Mandy Gordon, Ethnic Minorities Advisory Representative
Northern Utah UniServ / UEA EMAC
Northern Utah UniServ Council Members (local presidents)
Curtis Benjamin, Director
Northern Utah UniServ
Here are some resources we hope are helpful:
Returning to School in the Fall
Know that your Association advocates for your voice and is asking questions regarding what school starting up again looks like in the fall. At this point, it’s still early, and as we all know, circumstances are fluid -- especially with this recent increase in cases in Cache County. The District and BEEA both recognize the importance of including educators in this discussion, informed with guidance from the state and local health departments. UEA and NEA have also provided excellent guidance and advocacy that BEEA leadership can draw from for this important conversation.
If an Educator Tests Positive for COVID-19
According to the Utah State Health Department, whether you go to your primary care doctor, a health facility, or testing site, if you test positive you will be contacted by your health provider and asked questions about where you have been in the past few weeks, so that contact tracing may be done efficiently. You don’t have to contact your principal and report your positive test results. The District keeps in contact with the Health Department. If anyone tests positive and reports that they were at a school event or in a building during an infection period, the contact tracing personnel will report that immediately to the school district and give them specifics as to what building or in what capacity you (as an employee, not individual) were with other people. The name of the person who has been tested positive is not given and is kept confidential.
You may feel responsible for your colleagues and/or students with whom you have been in contact and may want to disclose that you tested positive to fellow teachers, parents or your administrator, but in such a case that information may not be considered confidential. On the other hand, the District and state and local health departments consider your medical information confidential in accordance with HIPPA privacy rule. Again, disclosure would not mandatory, especially during summer.
If An Employee Has Symptoms
If an employee is at work and reports that they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, supervisors would send the employee home. If an employee calls in to work and reports they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, supervisors should permit the employee to stay home. COVID-19 symptoms include: coughing, fever, shortness of breath, muscle soreness, loss of taste or smell, and sore throat.
(Thanks to UEA and GEA for the information adapted in this section.)
As You Applaud Your Students, We Applaud You!
In this final installment of YSCP for the year, we just wanted recognize how amazing you are and how we admire how you as educators have weathered this storm. You have demonstrated for all to see and quietly too your perseverance and your professionalism! As we close out this most unusual school year, it could have gone out quietly if not for educators and administrators organizing amazing graduation celebrations, parades in neighborhoods, yard signs and celebration lines in front of student homes and elementary schools. It is also a time for saying farewell with gratitude to the dedicated members who are retiring this year. We thank them for their years of service to public education, to their students and to their Association.
Rich Education Association
Calvin Ward (in memoriam)
Logan Education Association
Cache Education Association
Kaye Lyn Harris
Box Elder Education Association
Your Association Works Together for You
Even as the school year ends, the work to advocate for education goes on. The Legislature recently met in its Public Education Appropriation Committee to discuss how the education budget should be reduced. In February and March we wore our Red for Ed and many of you attended Educator Day on the Hill and the Walk for our Student and UEA rally at the State Capitol. Before closing the 2020 Utah Legislative Session, legislators enacted a 6% increase to the Weighted Pupil Unit which honored the desperate need of funding for our public schools. Now, even though Utah education remains funded lowest in the nation, the legislature is looking at taking back its promised increase due to state economic loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, budgetary adjustments must be made, but our plea is that public education be held harmless.
In a recent letter to Utah legislators, UEA President, Heidi Matthews urged, “The UEA disputes the assumption that the discussion must begin with budget reduction scenarios of 2%, 5% and 10% from the base budget. No cuts should be considered until revenue projections are fully understood and every option for backfilling any budget shortfalls has been explored. Use of bonding, rainy day funds, federal CARES Act monies, non-lapsing balances, and any other potential revenue source or expense deferral must all be considered BEFORE making ANY cuts to public education.” The upcoming Special Legislative Session is anticipated to take place around June 18 and 19. Please refer below in the in this YSCP for information regarding it and contacting your legislators to tell your stories and express your hopes and appreciation to adequately fund public education. (The contact information for your legislator is located there as well. Please remember to make contact using your own addresses, devices and networks.)
Public educators and students need and deserve more than last place for funding. As we highlighted in our last YSCP installment, educators at all levels are working harder than ever to provide a robust distance learning platform for students during this pandemic including planning on making continued adjustments in the fall that refine curriculum and lesson material to prepare and polish the work they have done on the fly since March of this year. Public education should be the last place, not the first, where state leaders focus budget cuts in the troubled economic times we face. There are lawmakers who are sympathetic to that as well, but we can remind them: They could first look to the multi-million dollar rainy day fund should to fill budget shortfalls. Utah’s rainy day fund ranks 19th in the nation, and the state is healthy financially because of this prudence in savings. However, being last in the nation for per pupil funding, and NOT utilize the rainy-day fund but further cut public education funding defeats the purpose. It’s pouring! One place lawmakers might consider starting would be the $6 million voucher bill it passed in a recent special session.
For more information, check out
Thank You Educators at This Historic Time
Please take a moment to watch this short message of appreciation from UEA:
“As historic events have overtaken our schools, Utah’s teachers have responded as they always do…with equally historic effort. At the close of this unparalleled school year, we say thank you to all of Utah’s teachers for your passion and commitment...and for #TheDifferenceYouMake! “
As educators you have gone through so much such in a short time. We were all hopeful at the beginning of school dismissal, but it didn’t take long to realize that this unprecedented and unpredictable time was going to take longer than the initial two weeks. Predictions, projections, and models – lots of models -- have been a mainstay through this time, hypothesizing what we might expect next. There has also been a fair share of what we might call hopethesizing as well – hoping for the best, a quick resolution, a return to normal.
Hope is essential to the work of educators, as well as in life itself. Hope inspires us to see the potential in our students and prepare them with knowledge and skills for an uncertain world. Hope can take us far. But in addition to hopethesizing, we can helpothesize as well – as while we accept the reality around us, we also assert ourselves into helping to shape our response to it. What is your helpothesis for the future? What can we do given the circumstances to help our students, schools, communities and each other? We are seeing it all around us: Here and here are just are a couple of examples from educators at Heritage Elementary that are typical of the kind of community you have created for your students throughout the last several weeks. You can see it in the yard signs for graduates throughout our valley. And you can see it in the way you take care of your families, neighbors and each other in the Association. Thank you for all you are doing for your students and for each other. Here’s another way we might be able to help:
Legislative Special Session
The UEA video has it right: You have responded as you always do and the needs of our students and our schools remain. Even before these challenging times, during Utah’s historic economic prosperity, Utah public education remained funded lowest in the nation. Our students need and deserve more.
As you know, the UEA Legislative Team is working with the Legislature for what our students and schools need. Resources, teacher retention, equity, mental health, safety, etc. all still exist when teachers and students return to their classrooms; and as we also know, educators have done an exemplary job navigating this new reality. Now our lawmakers need to hear from educators. Only you can tell them the stories of your classroom, even your new virtual classroom – the positive difference you make, how you are up to the challenge ahead, but also that your students and schools continue to count on the resources the legislature can provide. Remember to thank them and encourage them for their work in solving problems during such a challenging time. Applying our new vocabulary word, share your helpothesis with your legislators as you tell your story of what you do and need for your students – what would help.
For more information, check out
Ending the Year on a Note of Self-Care
Again, as we end this message as we did last time:
As we near the end of what has turned out to be a very unusual school year. We know you are missing your students. There will be end-of-year functions that include closing out the school year, and for those of you working in a high school this means graduation and activities associated with it. We just want you to stay well and to know that we endorse efforts during end of year events that--
First: You Are Doing A Great Job!
We’ve all been at this social distancing and remote learning for a while now (it feels at once slow and fast at the same time). It affects us all each differently. Michele Bowden, next year’s and returning Box Elder Education Association President shares a good reminder she found. We’d like to pass it on from the folks at www.randomactsofkindness.org :
We are all doing our best. Whether that’s keeping up with work demands while at home, educating our kids while they are out of school, caring for others ‘virtually’ or simply taking care of more responsibilities while trying to create a ‘new normal’ in a time of uncertainty. You are doing a great job.
You’ve heard the word resilience, but maybe you’ve never really thought about what it means. Chris Peterson, one of the founders of Positive Psychology, said it best when he described resilience as the ability to ‘struggle well’. We are more apt to thrive when we embrace the life lessons in our challenges, examining with curiosity, the patterns in our struggles. We can cope...with hope.
This is a time to do a few things we normally don’t prioritize:
Use this time to reflect on what you’re doing well. It may not feel like you’re having many successes each day. You may feel lost or hopeless at times. But, if you spend some time each day reflecting on the small victories (completing a task for work or getting a load of laundry done) you’ll find that you’re making it work.
Aside from celebrating the small accomplishments, recognize things for which to be grateful. Do you have food in the refrigerator? Are you healthy? Can you connect with your family and friends via phone or computer? Did you smile at least once today?
COMMIT TO SELF-CARE
Self-care doesn’t mean you should take a bubble bath or get a massage. It means you should do the things that bring you joy and give you energy. Do you like to cook? Enjoy exercising? Play an instrument? You may find there is more time for you to focus on things you’re passionate about or start something new.
Even though you may not be accomplishing all the things on your ‘to do’ list, make sure you’re getting done what you can so you can feel a sense of purpose each day. Don’t push yourself (see the second point in self-care), but try to set realistic expectations of yourself.
The main thing to keep in mind during all of this—give yourself a break. You are doing the best you can with the situation at hand and putting pressure on yourself to ‘do better’ can make challenging times even more difficult. And, make sure to give grace to those who may be having a hard time being productive while juggling various challenges of their own. Everyone manages stress differently. None of us know what the other person is going through, so be kind.
For more ideas on how to keep being an awesome person during Covid-19, visit us at www.randomactsofkindness.org.
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Excellence in Teaching Awards Announced
Congratulations Mary Knight from Heritage Elementary in Cache and Heather Fairbank from Hillcrest Elementary in Logan. They are among 10 Utah educators selected from among hundreds nominated to receive 2020 UEA/doTERRA Essential Oils USA Excellence in Teaching Awards! The awards will be presented at the KeyBank Superstars in Education banquet later this year. Video profiles for each winner are provided by PBS Utah. #ThankATeacher #ExcellenceinTeaching
Legislative Special Sessions Continue – Stay Tuned
Next month the Utah Legislature continues its Special Session series. The Special Sessions have been convened “because of the COVID-19 emergency” (Legislative Joint Proclamation) to address fiscal and emergency management issues. The next Special Session will look at funding across the board given the fiscal impact of COVID-19 – including public education. We don’t yet know what will be determined. Know that the UEA Legislative Team is working with the Legislature for what our students and schools need. Those needs haven’t changed: Resources, teacher retention, equity, mental health, safety, etc. all still exist when teachers and students return to their classrooms; not to mention, educators have done an exemplary job navigating this new reality. Of course, what the legislature decides has bearing on local negotiations – especially regarding financial matters. we are still looking forward to doing good work as we negotiate with the District. We will keep you informed.
Update: As you remember, the Legislature met April 23rd to discuss legislation to create a voucher-like scholarship for special needs students to attend private schools. Unfortunately, the new HB4003 passed and the Governor has agreed not to veto this time. Thank you for contacting your legislators and asking them to vote NO.
We encourage you to contact your legislators as they consider funding concerns and tell them what you and your students need going forward. (The contact information for your legislator is located at the end of this email. Please remember to email or call using your own addresses, devices and networks.)
For more information, check out
UEA, Northern UniServ and the District Offer Guidelines for Online Teaching
Within a couple of weeks of teachers starting online instruction, UEA, Northern UniServ and the District recognized the need to provide clarification regarding your new roles as online providers of curriculum. You may have already seen something similar to what is attached to this email in this regard, but it is perhaps worth reiterating. Both documents are intended as informational rather than authoritative, so check with your District or UniServ Director for any clarification.
Ending on a Note of Self-Care
It’s hard to believe we are nearing the end of what has turned out to be a very unusual school year. We know you are missing your students. There will be end-of-year functions that include closing out the school year, and for those of you working in a high school this means graduation and activities associated with it. We just want you to stay well and to know that we endorse efforts during end of year events that--
Really, we’re not just politely starting this message. Please let us know how if there is something you need or have questions we can answer by replying to this email. We hope you are doing well and are healthy. We know this time has been stressful, but we also know that you are doing exemplary work teaching your students. We want you to know that if you are doing what the District and your principal are asking regarding instruction, curriculum, delivery and communication, you are doing your job. You are enough. In fact --and maybe you have heard this before-- it’s important that you set boundaries and office hours for your daily work and that you take time for self-care. Remember, just as when you fly on an airline (you remember that), it’s important to put your own oxygen mask on before taking care of others. Attached is what we sent a couple of weeks ago with some information regarding teaching and self-care during COVID-19. Here are a couple of other links that you might find useful:
Here are some other ideas from https://www.blomquisthale.com/:
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories - including social media. - Take care of your body - Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate - Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals - Exercise regularly - Get plenty of sleep - Avoid alcohol or drugs - Unwind -Try to do some other activities you enjoy. - Talk with people you trust about how you are feeling. - Use time off to relax.
The Special Legislative Session – Here’s Something You Can Do
Sometimes it can be empowering to get involved, and we need your help the next couple of days.
This week the Utah Legislature continues its Special Session. The special session was convened “because of the COVID-19 emergency” (Legislative Joint Proclamation) to address fiscal and emergency management issues. They meet again on Thursday, April 23, and they will discuss legislation to create a voucher-like scholarship for special needs students to attend private schools. Here’s what you can do: Contact your legislator and ask him to vote NO. (The contact information for your legislator and an example for your message are located at the end of this email. Please remember to email or call using your own addresses, devices and networks.)
During the 2020 General Session, the UEA opposed HB332: Special Needs Scholarship. The bill passed but UEA and other education stakeholders were successful in getting the Governor to veto the bill. The legislature will not pursue a veto override but instead the sponsors have arranged with the Governor to support “revised” version of the bill. However, creating a special needs scholarship program is completely unrelated to the effective management of the Covid-19 emergency. This legislation on the surface has laudable intentions, but please urge your legislators to VOTE NO on a special needs scholarship (HB332).
Educators who work with special needs students or have seen the impact of students returning to the public education system when private schools didn’t provide the same level of service would be especially impactful. Here are some other arguments you might make:
State Board waives educator evaluation requirements
As you are likely already aware, during its April 16 online meeting, the Utah State Board of Education waived additional Administrative Rules in light of the national and state declarations of state of emergency due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The waivers include:
· R277-531-3 and R277-533-9 dealing with educator evaluation reporting requirements.
· Granting the Superintendent authority to extend for up to one year, international guest teacher licenses that expire on June 30, 2020.
· R277-477-3(10) which extends to September 15 the deadline for school district School LAND Trust plans to be approved by a district’s local school board.
· Extending the deadline and requirements for an educator expecting to upgrade the educator’s license to October 31.
· View the complete April 16 State School Board meeting summary
· Visit the UEA COVID-19 page
My Fellow Association Members & Friends:
As we are ending the second week of “soft closure” and before we go off to a much deserved and needed Summer Break, we want to say: THANK YOU! You are amazing. Educators, as well as education support professionals and administrators have pulled together during “unprecedented” times with characteristic professionalism and grace!
It’s been called “soft closure” and “remote instruction”, but it’s been pretty hard and can feel isolating. The break couldn’t come at a better time. Please take care of yourselves and know we admire and love you.
So, not wanting to add to your burden, but also wanting to send you a kind of digital “care package”: Below are a few resources for whenever you would like to look at them.
All the talk and teaching in this time of COVID-19 can contribute to stress, fear and anxiety, even a feeling of loss, but each of us will be affected differently. Still, the feeling many of us are experiencing is something akin to grief having lost something already or fearing that we may lose something in the future. Here are a few links to articles that may be helpful.
A Trauma Informed Approach to Teaching Through COVID-19That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is GriefA Guide for Working (From Home) ParentsCoping with Fatigue, Fear, and Panic During a CrisisMANAGING STRESS (CDC page)
Of course, there are many resources out there to help us understand and cope with this “unprecedented” (there’s that word again) moment. We just wanted to provide a sample of some of what we found useful. Connect (considering appropriate social distance) to those sources and people in your lives that bring you joy.Again, thank you for all you are doing for your students and for each other – and yourself. Enjoy your break!Curtis Benjamin, Northern Utah UniServ Director