Hello Everyone,

 
I wanted to thank you all for the job you have done to help our students, their families, and your colleagues transition this past week to the unknown of distance online learning and working from home.  
 
The pace outbreaks continues to grow and Bergen County seems to have been ahead of the curve by deciding to shut down school for the time being.  Working from home is hard.  It’s just that simple.  Whether you are providing online learning, communicating with parents, students, colleagues and taking care of your own families…working from home will be hard and exhausting. 
 
This is obviously all unprecedented, but please remember these three important words; communicate, communicate, communicate.  You just cannot communicate enough during a time like this.  Our guidance from the NJEA is that the first concern should be for the safety of our students and staff. We do need to prove to the State Department of Education that an attempt at providing instruction was attempted.  I do believe that we will be able to prove this and that our district has done a good job setting us up with the tools to do so.  They did collaborate with myself and Anthony about the items you received. We agreed they have set up a system that will help us all succeed, but mostly this will be successful because of our hard work and professionalism!  Post when you can, respond when you can.  BUT, I do urge you to be prudent and mindful of your social media posts during school hours.
 
It does seem unreal to me that we are discussing both a health scare and health care in the same email.  
 
I had a President’s Conference call from Marie Blistan and the NJEA Executive Board.  The call was after the landmark agreement between the NJEA and State President Sweeney regarding an agreement on Chapter 78 relief.  However, at the same time the Coronavirus issue escalated so that concern did dominate a good portion of the conference call. 
 
By now you may have seen a post, heard, or read in the news that the NJEA and the Senate President Sweeney have come to a tentative agreement on providing Chapter 78 relief for teachers, which should officially go through this May.  Without going into the history of Chapter 78 from 2011, Chapter 78 is the law that ties the amount that we pay towards our health insurance to a percentage of premium that is beyond our control..  
 
 As of July of 2020, we will have to make a choice.  The bill will allow school districts to keep the private plans outside of the state plans (which is what we have and is an extremely good plan), but the school districts will also have to offer the new state plans.  We can keep our private Horizon Direct Access plan or choose one of the three state plans which should be or closely resemble Direct 10,  Direct 15 or we can choose the new NJ Education Plan.  This is the same network of BCBS doctors over 50 states   Although they and I don’t have all the details, it is considered a “Platinum Plan”. The NJ Education Plan will be tied to a percentage of salary.   All new employees will only be offered this plan.  Anyone who is retiring after July 1, will only be eligible for this plan.   It was defined as “equal or better”  than the plan we have, BUT no exact details were provided.  
 
I do not want to get into the numbers they presented because everything was based off of current state plans which we do not participate in.  However, there definitely were some great savings for our members because of it being tied to a percentage of salary instead of percentage of the premium, but I can not tell you if the plans they offer are worth the switch until they release the full details of the plans.  Once they do, we will do our best to get you a comparison sheet in a timely manner.  
 
Either way I do believe the NJEA efforts have achieved a victory!  There definitely will be a cheaper health care option and it does sound like the plans should have good coverage.
   
I promise I will share information as I get it.  
 
If you have any concerns, please contact our NAEA email or send a message through the NAEA website which is www.narlingtonea.org
 
It may seem like we are being asked to go above and beyond over the next couple of weeks, but I am sure we are up for it.  Again, we will do the best that we can and I am confident that it will be appreciated by our students, our parents, and administration.
 
P.S. For obvious reasons our third union meeting of the year on March, 18th will be postponed until further notice.
 
Yours in Solidarity,
 
Dan Farinola
NAEA President