Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to send a quick follow up on Dr. Yurchak’s email to address two things in particular.
After reviewing the poll and consulting with the NJEA, I decided with the school district to keep our Spring Break the way it was originally scheduled.  There was a large percentage of our membership that was polled that felt they needed the full break and there would be some conflicts that would come up as a result of it.  Thank you to everyone that participated in the poll as quickly as you did.  It was very useful in gauging our union and the percentage of people that felt each way.
The mandatory trainings that have been assigned in Dr. Yurchak’s email are a direct result of our membership.  We were advised not to use any video or audio instruction from the district.  There were no concerns about teachers that felt strongly about using video and audio instruction brought to the NAEA’s attention.  If there was, I would have outlined a scenario where it differentiate instruction so drastically that some parents would complain about the differences between classes and teachers.  I also would have advised strongly against using any platform because WE ARE NOT TRAINED in it as a district and that this could result in mandatory training/Professional Development.  Lastly, I would have advised that the NJEA does not have an official stance on using Video instruction and that there go to response is they would have to conflict with their legal department should any problems arise.  That is a major red flag.  I myself will not be using any video/audio instruction because more importantly our students HAVE NOT BEEN TRAINED in it.  A lot of problems could arise and I have seen many videos on Instagram, Facebook, tiktok, etc.that show students with inappropriate outfits and responses.  
Anyway, now these trainings are mandatory and we have to sit through them.  This is unfortunate but the district has every right to do so.  We are working a modified schedule and they still could hold us to contractual hours if they deemed necessary.  I made it very clear that our staff is overworked and I am hoping that this is the last of any extra meetings that we will be having.  These trainings, unfortunately, were brought on by our own membership so we have to bite the bullet now.  
If you are asking for my personal opinion, I would still highly recommend that you DO NOT use any of the 3 approved platforms mentioned in Dr. Yurchak’s email,  as they are optional to use for instruction.  Again, the bigger issue to me is our students are not trained in video/audio instruction and could push the limits of what is acceptable.  
Also, students might now think they can send in work as a video or audio clip, I would make it known in your assignment descriptions that you do not want any video/audio submissions, if that is your preference.   Thinking about my own lessons, I have challenged the students to a 30 day at home workout and I am afraid students might think they can send me proof of them completing workouts…which I do not want.  Therefore, I will be posting in my classrooms that under no circumstances are students to submit a video of themselves for my assignments.  
Best Regards,
Dan Farinola
North Arlington Education Association President