This email is going to all PFT Members                                                                       September 2, 2020     

Dear PFT Members,

Happy First Day of School! We are starting a school in a year like no other, in a time of constant change and with challenges at every turn. The world has asked so much of educators during this pandemic, and of course, you’ve risen to the challenge. You’ve adapted your teaching on a dime and you’ve spent countless hours planning and preparing to welcome your students in a new way. You will be there, like you always are, to help your students continue to learn and grow, and you will be there when they need someone to turn to in this tremendously difficult time. I want to remind you that you matter in the lives of your students and your colleagues. I also want you to remember that the work you are doing is amazing, and it is enough. I know that we will be here for each other, as colleagues, and as union members, as we continue to navigate through this pandemic. Thank you for all you do to support students and one another! Here are a few brief informational updates:


All teachers: In preparation for a future return to campus in two learning models (virtual and on-campus), PFT continues to advocate for teachers to be placed in an assignment that matches their preference. If a teacher’s preferred choice is not available, we are doing absolutely everything we can to ensure teachers with medical needs are placed in virtual assignments.

Special Ed: Special Education teachers are beginning the year instructing the students they case manage. In preparation for our future reopening in two learning models (on-campus and virtual), the Special Ed Dept. is currently reviewing teacher and student preferences and teacher medical needs to determine teacher assignments. PFT will be reviewing draft placements together with the Special Ed Dept. as a joint staffing team. PFT will continue to advocate for teachers with medical needs to receive virtual assignments.


Secondary: Secondary sites are beginning the year with the typical class placement process. Secondary schedules are always in a state of flux for the first two weeks of school as sites work to balance classes and adjust to changes in enrollment.  Secondary staffing is not a perfect science. For example, student schedules interfere with balancing classes when a few too many students are in one class but there are not enough students to add a section. Class size targets are used for core classes. These are not hard caps, unfortunately, but they are targets sites work to meet. If it is not possible to meet the target, core classes should not be far from the target.

  • Middle School uses a staffing ratio of 29:1 (this is not the actual class size due to prep periods and other factors), and a target for core classes of 34 or below.
  • High School uses a staffing ratio of 31:1 (this is not actual class size due to prep periods and other factors). The class size target for core content areas is 38.  9th grade English, Chemistry, Biology, and Integrated Math 1 have a target of 35.

    The PFT/PUSD Joint Staffing Team will be reviewing pivot tables (class sizes by teacher, content, and school) next week to identify any areas of concern.  If you have a specific question or concern, please contact PFT Director, Kris Hizal, at 674-2800 so we can follow up.

    Elementary General Ed: Class size caps remain the same as last year with a cap of 25 at TK, 26 in grades K-3, and 33 at grades 4 and 5. These are “hard caps” in general ed at TK-5. In a typical year, elementary classes exceed the cap by one student on a rare and exceptional basis. This year, classes have been created in two learning models (virtual and on-campus) to ensure a smooth transition when our elementary schools physically reopen. Staffing for two models has resulted in many classes being over by 1 student, several being over by 2 or 3 students, and one class being over by 4 students. We are pleased we were able to negotiate a one-time stipend for general education elementary teachers with class size overages (see MOU sent yesterday for details).

    Re-opening in Two Learning Models

In their August 13 meeting, the PUSD School Board said they plan to reassess when and how PUSD schools will shift to two learning models (on-campus and virtual) once health conditions are met. They also “…expressed interest in reopening elementary schools sooner than secondary schools. In order to maintain continuity and avoid disruption for secondary students in the middle of a grading period, the Board would like to wait to reopen middle and high schools until after the end of a grading period. Elementary schools, however, could possibly reopen sooner as feasible” (Board Briefs, Aug. 2020). Since San Diego County has now met the requirements to reopen schools, we anticipate the School Board establishing a re-opening timeline at their Sept. 10 meeting. We want the School Board to know how much time teachers returning to the on-campus model will need to successfully make this transition. It will also be helpful to tell them how we will use that time (shifting our instructional planning from virtual to on-campus, implementing safety protocols, placing students in am/pm or A/B classes…). If you have thoughts regarding how much transition time is needed and why, please share them with your PFT Rep by the end of the day this Friday.

Virtual Back to School Night (BTSN)

Here are some parameters PFT and LSS have agreed to regarding Virtual Back to School Night (BTSN). The duration of BTSN should be the same as prior years. Sites can work together to schedule the date of BTSN, keeping in mind that elementary schools hold it on a Thursday, middle schools hold it on a Wednesday and high schools hold it on a Tuesday.  (This gives parents a better opportunity to attend BTSN for multiple children). Teachers should connect with parents live in a virtual environment on Back to School Night. If a recording of the teacher is used, the teacher should introduce him/herself live prior to playing the video, and the teacher should answer questions about their course live after the video. The duration of the recording should allow for all three to take place (live intro, video, Q & A) in the allotted time.

For secondary: When the session is over, the teacher should announce that it is time to move to the next session, and parents are welcome to email any further questions. Teachers may wish to use a timer, since the bell usually rings between each session in an on-campus model.

Tech Reminders

Teacher Protection: When using Zoom, PFT recommends teachers not be alone with a student. Despite our desire to help students one-on-one, such as when no one else shows up for office hours, this could be risky for teachers. The Board Policy on Maintaining Appropriate Adult-student Interactions indicates:


Employees shall remain vigilant of their position of authority and not abuse it when relating with students. Examples of employee conduct that can undermine professional adult-student interactions or create the appearance of impropriety include, but are not limited to:

 2. Being alone with a student outside of the view of others; i.e. classroom doors and blinds closed

During the emergency closure, the district suggested teachers email the student’s parents to make sure they are aware of their child’s individual appointment during virtual office hours. In PFT’s opinion, this needs to be a decision each teacher makes individually, understanding all of the information above. If you have ideas on how to serve students one-on-one and protect teachers from potential liability, please send them our way.

Public Records Requests:Every time you conduct district business in writing (on a district device, personal device, district email, personal email, from home or from work) it may be subject to a public records request.  So just be your professional self whenever you conduct district business.

Social Media Tip:To avoid any potential Personnel related issues, PFT recommends you do not provide students and/or parents access to your personal social media sites.

Child Care for Teachers

Many teachers will need childcare once our schools are physically reopened. PFT is continuing to work with LSS on childcare options to support teachers. We will have more information for you soon.

PUSD School Board Elections

There will be School Board Elections this fall for Areas A and E.  The endorsement process begins now. PFT has given a friendly endorsement to incumbent candidate Darshana Patel for Area A. She has been a consistent supporter of students and teachers. There are two candidates running for Area E: Jimmy Karam and Cindy Sytsma. Your PFT Executive Board will be interviewing each candidate, as well as reviewing their responses to written questions on Monday, September 14. Then, each candidate will speak for 5 minutes and answer questions at our PFT Rep Council Meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Site PFT Reps will provide written feedback on the candidates. The Executive Board will consider the written questionnaire, the oral interview, and the Rep Council feedback to determine which candidate to endorse for Area E. Rep Council Meetings are always open to any Member. Let us know if you’d like to attend to hear from the candidates!

Hope you had a great first day today!




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Poway Federation of Teachers Local 2357
13475 Danielson Street
Suite 190

Poway, CA 92064
(858)674-2805 fax