ParaEducators

Paraeducator Appreciation Day 2021

The following message is from the Paraeducator Council President, Cynthia Ross-Zweig on April 7th, 2021 which has been marked Connecticut’s Paraeducator Appreciation Day:

Today our State recognizes the crucial work of paraeducators and celebrates the integral role they play in the education community. The role of a paraeducator is comprehensive, but it is with this broad stroke approach that the individual and unique needs of each and every student is realized. Without paraeducators the students with special needs, the students that require the one-on-one attention and the students that need the extra help to excel would be left without the necessary support system. In fact, all students, regardless of special needs or status, benefit from the work of paraeducators in their schools.
 

Today CSEA SEIU Local 2001 thanks the tireless efforts of everyone of our paraeducators who has fought throughout the pandemic for the safety and educational needs our the students, parents and the community they serve. Without this critical role, many of our State’s students would have fallen even further behind in their academic work, but because of the adaptive, creative and resilient work of the paraeducator community, not one student was left without the support they needed.

 
Today (and everyday!) we thank our Paraeducator Council for their dedication to their educational community.
 
In Solidarity,
 
Cynthia Ross-Zweig
CSEA SEIU Local 2001
Paraeducator Council President
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Vaccine Information for School Staff & Childcare Professionals

 

General Vaccine Information:

Vaccine Eligibility for Education and Childcare Professionals and Staff – CT State Website

Latest Information on the COVID-19 Vaccine – CT State Website

COVID Vaccination Promotional Resources – CT State Website

Vaccine Eligibility Information as of 2/22:

All Pre-K through 12th-grade educators and staff who work onsite with students, as well as childcare professionals, are eligible to start scheduling and receiving the vaccine beginning March 1st.

Please refer to the descriptions below for more detail.

COVID Vaccine
Certified Staff:
• Classroom Educators PK-12 (including DSAP & LTS)
• Student and Educator Support Specialists – Special Education, School Counselors, Social Workers, SLP, School Psychologists, etc.
• School Nurses
• Building & Central Office Administrators
• Non-classroom based certified personnel; Content Area coaches, Department Chairs, Curriculum Specialists, Technology Specialists
COVID Vaccine
Non-Certified Instructional Staff:
• Paraprofessionals
• Tutors
• Interventionists
• Behavioral Specialists
• Contracted Support Specialists – BCBA, Speech, etc. 
• District/Building-based Substitutes
COVID Vaccine
Non-Certified Support Staff:
• Custodial & Maintenance Staff
• Food Service Staff
• Office Administration Staff (Building & Central Office in schools)
• Security Personnel
• Nurse Office Aides & Staff
• Library/Media Center Support Staff (if not certified)
• IT Staff
• Athletic Coaches & Extra-Curricular Advisors (if not certified)
• Bus/Van Drivers LEA & Private Companies
• Substitute teachers
• In-school volunteers
COVID Vaccine
Childcare Professionals:
• Childcare Teachers, Assistant teachers, paraprofessionals
• Administrative staff with in-person contact with parents and children
• Program support staff who have regular in-person contact with children
• Childcare transportation professionals
 
*Not eligible: Board of Education members, off-site staff working remotely or in non-school buildings; non-licensed home childcare providers, adult and higher education professionals and staff

Vaccine Information for Childcare Providers:

As of March 1, 2021, licensed and license-exempt child care and youth camp professionals and support staff working in Connecticut are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The guidance on this page will help answer questions you might have about how to get ready for the vaccine and how the process works.

Read Governor Lamont’s press release from February 22, 2021, which announced the eligibility of child care providers and staff.

What programs and staff are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Starting March 1, 2021, eligible child care providers include currently-operating:

  • Child care centers
  • Group child care homes
  • Family child care homes
  • Youth camps
  • Child care programs operated by a local board of education or municipality

Eligible staff include people who work in these settings, such as:

  • Teachers
  • Family child care home providers
  • Birth to Three providers who offer on-site services to child care programs
  • Substitutes and assistants (including student interns)
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Custodial and food service staff
  • Bus drivers
  • Administrative or other staff with direct care responsibility

A few specifics about eligibility:

  • If you’re planning to work in a summer youth camp, you’re not eligible yet. Providers and other staff at youth camps (and other programs that are not open) become eligible starting 60 days before the program opens. So for example, if your camp opens on July 1, you become eligible for the vaccine on May 1.
  • At this stage in the vaccine rollout, family members in family child care homes are not eligible to get the vaccine (unless they are otherwise eligible based on their age or employment in a phase 1a healthcare category).

Unlicensed home-based child care providers such as relatives, au pairs, or nannies are not eligible for the vaccine as child care or education providers (unless they are eligible based on their age).

I’m a provider or staff member who’s eligible — what happens next?

Because local health departments across the state are still finalizing the vaccine administration details, they’re asking providers and educators to be patient for a little longer. 

In early March, OEC will have more details to share on this page. By that time, you can also expect to receive more specific guidance about how and where to get the vaccine directly.

  • Employers will provide information to staff at a child care centers and group child care homes
  • Local health departments will provide information to family child care providers and child care center and group child care home employer coordinators

Keep in mind that the process will vary from town to town. Some local health departments will use the state’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) and some will not. Most providers will be able to go to a vaccine clinic that’s been set up specifically for child care and school staff in their community.

I’m the administrator of a child care program — what do I do next?

Again, local health departments and districts are asking providers to be patient while vaccine distribution plans are finalized. But here’s an overview of what you can do and what will happen next.

1. Get your roster ready

It’s vital to have an up-to-date roster of eligible staff — with each staff member’s name and individual email address — so health departments will be able to send out emails to set up appointments. We offer a template you can use on our website. You can also use OEC’s Background Check Information System (BCIS) to create your roster. Learn how to use BCIS to prepare your roster.

2. Wait for more information

You can expect to hear from your local health department or district soon about vaccine clinics in your area soon. Make sure to respond to this message promptly. State officials are supporting local health districts with this vaccine rollout. They’re also identifying other options for districts that do not have the ability to set up a clinic capable of accommodating all child care and school staff.

3. Give local health departments time before contacting them with vaccination requests

If you don’t hear from your local health department or clinic in early March, you can reach out to them directly. At that time, you can also call 2-1-1 or explore vaccine scheduling options on the state’s COVID-19 Response site.

 
What about child care programs and youth camps that are not under OEC oversight?

Some license-exempt child care programs — such as programs administered by municipalities or public school systems — are not overseen by OEC. If you have such a program, reach out to your employer to find out how you’ll be able to access the vaccine.

Where can I get more information about the vaccine?

We’ll update this page with additional guidance as it becomes available. You can also learn more from the DPH COVID-19 Response website.

DPH also has a series of helpful factsheets and videos on the vaccine. Explore DPH’s vaccine resources.

Watch a video of our OEC vaccine webinar from February 24, 2021, which included staff from the Office of the Governor, the Department of Public Health, and the Department of Education.

Frequently Asked Questions:

SCHEDULING YOUR VACCINATION

Are only teachers eligible in the next vaccination group?

All Pre-K through 12th-grade educators and staff who work onsite with students are eligible to start scheduling and receiving the vaccine beginning March 1st. This includes:

  • Teachers, paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, and in-class volunteers
  • Custodial staff, food services workers, and school bus drivers
  • School Resource Officers and contracted social services and mental health professionals who work with students in schools
  • Before- and after-school program staff
  • Coaches
  • In-school administrative staff
  • Childcare professionals
  • Board of Education members, Adult Education, Higher Education, and staff not working in schools are NOT eligible unless they meet the appropriate age-band

For more information, check out Vaccine Eligibility for Education and Childcare Professionals and Staff.

How do I get an appointment?  Do I have to go through my school/school district? Will I have to show identification?

By March 1st, you should expect to hear from your employer and/or your local health director about options for appointments to receive your first dose. The state is committed to ensuring that our school and childcare professionals have at least one dose administered in March. We expect that closed clinics will be available to school personnel, childcare workers and others in the coming weeks as vaccine supply grows. Individuals eligible to receive vaccine because they work with children in childcare or pre-K through 12 settings must bring verification of their employment to the vaccine clinic. Such verification could include an employee ID card, a paystub, or a letter from the employer.  

I live in town X but teach in town Y, where do I get my vaccine?

You will receive options from your employer/school district by March 1st for how and where you can make appointments/receive the vaccine.

I teach at a boarding school, are we eligible?

Yes, educators and support staff working onsite at private schools are eligible to start scheduling and receiving the vaccine beginning March 1st.

Will Birth to Three staff be a part of the child care vaccine priority group?

Birth to Three Staff who work in child care settings will be considered child care staff for purposes of the vaccine priority.

Are college professors eligible?

No, only educators and staff for Pre-K through 12th grade are currently eligible for the vaccine. Otherwise, you may be eligible based on your age.

I work in a childcare center, am I eligible?

Yes, childcare professionals living or working in CT are eligible for the vaccine beginning March 1st.

I am a CT resident, but I teach out of state.  Am I eligible?

If you are age 55 or over, you are eligible.  However, if you are younger than 55, you are only eligible to receive vaccine if you work in a CT school district.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory?

No.  The State of Connecticut is not mandating vaccination.  

Can I get the vaccine if I live outside of the State of Connecticut? What if I work in Connecticut, but don’t live in Connecticut?
You are eligible to receive vaccine in the State of Connecticut if you live or work in the State of Connecticut. If you live outside Connecticut, but work here, you must provide proof of your employment in Connecticut in order to receive your vaccination here. If you neither live nor work in the State of Connecticut, you are not eligible to receive vaccine in the State of Connecticut, even if your primary medical provider is in the State of Connecticut. If you do not live or work in Connecticut, you should receive vaccine from your State of residence when you are eligible based on their requirements. 

Can people who have already have COVID-19 get the vaccine? 
Yes.  The CDC recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19 because you can catch it more than once.  You can receive the vaccine any time after you are done with your isolation period and your symptoms have resolved, but since you have antibodies for that 90 day period and re-infection is not likely during that timeframe, you can also choose to wait until after 90 days to get immunized.

PRIVACY

If I get a vaccination, where will my information go? Can I be sure it will be kept safe?
Your personal and health care information will be kept private, and will not be shared outside of your healthcare provider’s office, and the Department of Public Health. Personal identifying information such as your name, contact information, and address will be treated as confidential health care information and will not be shared with law enforcement or the federal government without a court order or similar legal compulsion.

GETTING THE VACCINE

Where do I go for a vaccination? 
When you are eligible for a vaccination, you will most likely work through your medical provider, or the employer coordinator at your workplace to learn about the specifics of your eligibility requirements. Vaccines will be able to be administered in a wide range of places: physician’s offices, hospitals, pharmacies, community health centers, and other locations that would normally administer vaccinations.  

I don’t have state-issued identification, will I be able to get a COVID-19 vaccination?
Yes, you can still be vaccinated. No person will be turned away based on their ability to show ID. While sharing your contact information may not be required to get a vaccine, staff at the vaccination site may ask individuals for an ID, but this only applies to people who have one. Individuals should bring an ID, if they have one, to verify the name and eligibility information they submitted to the vaccination appointment system, their insurance information if they have insurance, and their employment in Connecticut if they work but do not live in the state. Individuals can still get the COVID-19 vaccine without insurance or an ID.

Am I going to be required to carry verification that I’ve been vaccinated? 
No. Although your provider will make sure that their records reflect you have received the vaccine in order to most effectively treat you in the future.  

Can I get a certificate that says I am vaccinated?

Most providers will give you a card when they administer your first vaccine dose that notes the date and reminds you of your next appointment to receive the second dose.  The State is currently exploring options for providing some form of vaccine verification beyond the cards in use now by vaccine administrators.

VACCINE TYPES

Is there a difference between the vaccinations that I can take? 
There are only small differences, but both vaccines currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are highly effective based on trials. Below, you’ll see some basic details about both.  

Vaccine Age Requirements Recommended Time Between Doses 
Pfizer  16+ 21 days
Moderna  18+ 28 days

Do I get to choose which vaccine brand I want to receive? 
In general, given scarce supply, only one vaccine may be available through your provider. You can talk with your medical provider if you have specific questions or concerns that may lead you to want to seek out one specific COVID-19 vaccine versus another.  

Can I choose the vaccine that says it’s the most effective?

Getting the vaccine, regardless of the brand, will protect you from severe illness, hospitalization and the risk of death from COVID-19.

Can I choose to get a one-dose vaccine? I don’t have time for two shots.
Currently the only vaccines available require a two-dose course for full protection against COVID-19.  One-dose vaccines may soon be available depending on authorization by the FDA. However, they will be in scarce supply for some time, and not every provider will have access to them, so the choice will be limited by the provider.

THE SECOND DOSE

How do I know when to schedule my second vaccination? 
Most providers will ask you to schedule your first and second vaccination at the same time and will help you set up reminders via text, email, or phone call about your second dose.  

What if I miss my second shot, or cannot find an appointment for 21 (for Pfizer)or 28 (for Moderna) days after my first shot – is it a problem if I wait?
No. You do not need to get your second dose exactly 21 (for Pfizer) or 28 (for Moderna) days after your first shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have advised that the second should be taken up to 42 days of the first dose. However, the CDC has also indicated that you do not need to start the shots over again if you go beyond the 42-day window for the second shot. It will still be effective.

VACCINATION TRIALS

How do we know the vaccines are safe? 
The Pfizer vaccine alone had a trial of over 40,000 people over a period of many months without any serious incidents. No vaccines will be available to the public without the review of the federal government and the Science Subcommittee of Governor Lamont’s Vaccine Advisory Group. In Connecticut, we continue to make every decision with public health as a number one priority.  

Since the vaccine is so new, how do you know there won’t be long-term health effects from taking it? 
Because all COVID-19 vaccines are new, it will take more time and more people getting vaccinates to learn about very rare or possible long-term effects.  At least 8 weeks’ worth of safety data were gathered in the clinical trials for all the authorized vaccines and it’s unusual for vaccine side effects to appear more than 8 weeks after vaccination. 

SAFETY & VACCINE RISKS

Can I still get COVID-19 after I’m vaccinated? 
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. However, if you still get infected after you get vaccinated, the vaccine may prevent serious illness.

What are the side effects of the vaccine? 
Those who receive the vaccine may experience mild symptoms of COVID-19 and soreness at the site of injection. Information about rare allergic reactions to the vaccination can be found on the CDC website

Is it safe to get vaccinated if I have an underlying health condition? 
Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity.  People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. It is recommended that people with these conditions get vaccinated. Individuals who have had prior allergic reactions to injectable medicines should consult with their medical providers before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.  

I’ve had allergic reactions to other shots, can I get the COVID-19 vaccine? 
You should talk with your provider about what allergies may make it risky for you to get the COVID-19 vaccination, but, it has proven safe in the vast majority of instances.  

Can I get the vaccine if I’m pregnant or nursing? 
Yes. 

Is the COVID-19 vaccination safe for children?
Vaccinations are only authorized for those over 16 at this time, and more research needs to be done to develop a vaccine for children, but we are hopeful that there will be an update in the future.

Can people who have already have COVID-19 get the vaccine? 
Yes. The CDC recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19 because you can catch it more than once. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection will last. 

How do we know the vaccines are safe? 
The Pfizer vaccine alone had a trial of over 40,000 people over a period of many months without any serious incidents. No vaccines will be available to the public without the review of the federal government and the Science Subcommittee of Governor Lamont’s Vaccine Advisory Group. In Connecticut, we continue to make every decision with public health as a number one priority.  

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19? 
No.  None of the COVD-19 vaccines currently authorized for use or in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. 

Does this vaccine cause infertility? 
No. This is a rumor. 

I have a food allergy, can I get the vaccine? 
Yes. Information about the COVID-19 vaccination and allergies can be found on the CDC’s website.

I have seasonal allergies, can I get the vaccine? 
Yes. Information about the COVID-19 vaccination and allergies can be found on the CDC’s website.

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19? 
No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use or in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19.  However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick.

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CSEA & BOE Unions Earn BIG Win!

BOE Staff Voices Heard:
Paid Quarantine Leave Restored

The governor recently signed an executive order that requires local school districts to provide paid quarantine leave for public school BOE staff members. CSEA’s advocacy, unions working together, and your emails to legislators made a positive difference.

We appreciate the governor taking this action to ensure that school employees continue to be paid when they are being forced to quarantine. Too many school districts were not accommodating staffs’ requests to work remotely or receive paid quarantine leave when having to quarantine. This executive order helps ensure that we have consistent policies regarding how school districts handle quarantines and leaves in our public schools.

The Board of Education Union Coalition, representing paraeducators, bus drivers and monitors and other education support staff, sent the governor a letter in January calling for an extension of paid quarantine leave for educators and staff in our public schools.

Executive Order 10 requires all local and regional boards of education to provide paid leave consistent with the leave provisions of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which expired on December 31, 2020. The order allows full-time employees 80 hours of paid leave and part-time employees leave for the average number of hours they work over a two-week period.

We thank all of you for your advocacy: making phone calls, sending emails to legislators, and putting pressure on the governor to issue this executive order. The governor and his staff listened to our voices and took action on this important issue.

Next: We are continuing to advocate for vaccine priority for BOE staff when the essential worker phase begins after vaccinating the elderly. We are also pushing for an extension of EO 7R which provides guaranteed income protection. 

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Board of Education Union Coalition Leaders Present Petitions to the Governor to Adopt the “Safe and Successful Schools Now” Recommendations

HARTFORD – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Connecticut and across the country, leaders of the Board of Education Union Coalition presented a petition signed by nearly 14,000 education and community members urging the state to take immediate steps to protect the health of students, staff and communities. 

14,000 signatures (and growing) were collected in just 14 days and delivered to the Governor.

14,000 signatures (and growing) were collected in just 14 days and delivered to the Governor.

Speaking at a press conference held on the North Steps of the State Capitol, union leaders said they will share the petitions, which were signed by teachers, paraeducators, bus drivers and monitors, counselors, custodians, cafeteria workers, parents, community members and other education supporters, with Gov. Ned Lamont. 

Union coalition leaders said the petitions reinforce the urgency of their months-long campaign for safe and healthy schools. They said the surging COVID-19 infection rate demands the establishment and enforcement of consistent statewide safety protocols, along with uniform transparency in reporting and responding to cases, for schools. 

IMG-0304 (1)

CSEA Paraeducator Council President
Cynthia Ross-Zweig spoke before the crowd.

  • If that’s not possible, Connecticut must shift to full-time remote learning until after the holidays. “To simply keep the doors open without regard to science cannot possibly be in the best interest of our children. Everyone is susceptible, students, staff and our families at home, and unless there are mandatory, consistent and transparent guidelines, we will continue to learn of more cases and deaths,” said Cynthia Ross-Zweig, CSEA Paraeducator Council President.
     
  • “At great risk to themselves and their families, Connecticut’s dedicated educators are going to work every day amid massive COVID outbreaks and unsafe working conditions,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “With surging infection rates and vaccines for the general public not available until after the new year, the state must shift to full-time remote learning until mid-January to ensure that in-person learning is a safe strategy for our students and teachers—not an experiment, not a gamble.” 
     
  • “Students, teachers and support staff are not safer in schools,” said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. “Every time the governor mentions that they are, he loses support and confidence with many of our members and their students’ parents. If schools are safe, why are we constantly in quarantine due to infections and exposures?” 
  • “Our members are the final defense in ensuring the cleanliness of our schools and the safety of our students,” added Carl Chisem, President CEUI, SEIU Local 511 and MEUI, SEIU Local 506.  “Without enforced, universal protocols their responsibilities are that much more difficult to accomplish.” The union coalition’s petition campaign follows the Nov. 24 release of their report, “Safe and Successful Schools Now,” which calls for a shift to all remote learning unless stronger protections are in place to keep our school communities safe.
  • “We are asking Governor Lamont to listen to the voices of the people who signed the petitions and to make sure local districts follow our recommendations for safe and successful schools,” said Council 4 Executive Director Jody Barr. “We have a long, hard winter ahead of us. Let’s do right by our students and staff.”
  • “The message we are trying to communicate is clear. We are simply asking for statewide standards to be applied equally, across all school districts throughout the entire state,” added Michael Holmes, International Service Representative for the United Auto Workers, Region 9A. 

Many of the 14,000 people who signed the petition also provided commentary from the front-lines of public education during a pandemic: 

“My brother contracted COVID at an elementary school.  He brought it to my elderly mother who died from it. I am heartbroken as well as terrified.” 

Cos Cob: “We want schools open, but need consistent protocols and protections.” 

Waterbury: “The disparity and lack of clarity around COVID response in school districts right now is completely unacceptable.” -Waterbury 

New Milford: “Transparency is important and contact tracing is important and neither is happening in my school.” –New Milford  

Northford: “We matter. Our students matter. Our families matter. Protect us.” Northford  

Branford: “You need to set a state standard so ALL can be safe and still learn.” Branford  

Mansfield: “With the timing of cold weather and windows being closed, more students being brought into our buildings, gatherings and travel of families during the holiday season, lack of social distancing, and the rapid rise in Covid cases, this feels like a perfect storm.  I am in agreement that if testing can’t happen, and other appropriate protocols followed, then schools should go remote until after the holidays to at least eliminate some of the risk to staff and students right now.” 

Manchester: “With the return to full time in person learning, the social distancing has been much more difficult to manage given the increase in numbers. Also, the schools are not being cleaned and sanitized as initially promised.” 

 Old Saybrook:“We have done a wonderful job keeping students in school through the Thanksgiving holiday, however as the numbers increase and towns are moving into the red zone, it is imperative that we take greater measures to keep students, staff, and our families safe.” 

Ellington: “With groups of 20-25 people in a room at the same time, social distancing cannot be accommodated. I want to work- but I want to work safely. Please support the health of students, educators, paraprofessionals, and all other staff by mandating that schools adhere to protocols that keep us safe.” 

Ridgefield: “We keep hearing about how safe the schools are yet we’ve had multiple COVID positive cases in the district and are seeing those cases increase every week. Furthermore, protocols for testing and quarantining have been unevenly applied and students are returning to school after a long weekend with large family gatherings, putting their classmates and teachers at risk. I do not feel safe in my building.” 

The Board of Education Union Coalition represents unionized public education employees across the state and includes members of CEA, AFTCT, SEBAC, CSEA, CEUI, MEUI, AFSCME, and UAW. 

# # # 

Links – 

Map of CT reflecting hometowns of initial 14,000+ signers:  https://bit.ly/BoEmap   

Board of Education Union Coalition’s “Protect Students, Teachers, and School Staff” petition: https://bit.ly/SafeSchoolsNowPetition 

Board of Education Union Coalition’s “Safe and Successful Schools Now” report: http://aftct.org/sites/aftct.org/files/boe_unions_cltn_sf_schls_report.pdf  

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The Program Review (PRI) Committee Release Interim Study on Para Staffing Levels

CSEA Paraeducators Testify

CSEA paraeducators testified at a public hearing on an interim study of paraeducator staffing levels in late September.  The program review (PRI) committee approved the study of school paraeducator staffing in May of 2014 following intensive lobbying efforts by CSEA and other unions representing paras to form a task force on these same issues.  Our union and others have raised the issue that districts are assigning school paraeducators in ways that render paras unable to effectively perform their core duties, including those that are required by special education students’ individualized education plans.

Cille Grabert, para educator in the New FairfieldSchool District testified.  “When I was assigned to three students in a first grade class, my job was to keep them on task, have them complete an assignment, and monitor their behavior. The teacher told me that all of the students had to produce something to complete their assignments. It was very challenging because each had different learning issues and learning styles.  One student would break every pencil that I gave him and act out, another student was extremely shy and had difficulties with reading, and the last student had problems with writing and spelling. Many elementary paraeducators experience similar situations everyday assisting in the classroom, and without the necessary training to address the needs of our students we can’t serve them nearly as well as we could.  We need the proper tools to do the job; we need access to professional development.”

The report’s findings so far:

There is no one definition of school paraprofessional, or para. Various definitions and titles exist, depending on federal and state law and regulation, and local district policies, job descriptions, and contracts.

Connecticut State Department of Education collects data on the numbers of FTE non-certified instructional staff (NCIS) in all districts. The categories of NCIS include those assigned to: special education; Pre-K and kindergarten; library/media; ESL/Bilingual; and regular education.

The data indicate that there are a total of 14,450 NCIS working in the districts in 2013, an increase of about 13 percent from 2003, but a decrease of 2 percent from the 14,741 employed in 2010.

Most of the increase in NCIS has been in special education, where the number of FTEs has risen about 30 percent, from 7,319 in 2003 to 9,562 in 2013. At the same, the number of paras assigned to other areas and regular education has decreased by about 20 percent.

Since 2004, there has also been an increase in the number of special education teachers (5 percent), while the numbers of special education students has declined by about 3,350 (5 percent). Thus, the ratio of special education students to both special education teachers and special education paraprofessionals has decreased over a similar period – in the case of teachers from 8:1 in 2004 to 6:1 in 2013, in the case of paras, from 5:1 to 4:1.

Results from a recent survey of paras conducted by UConn’s UniversityCenter for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities indicate that 54percent of paras responding had been working for 10+ years; 41 percent had a BA or higher, while 16 percent had only a high school or equivalency diploma.

In the vast majority of school districts, paras are unionized, with various unions representing paras.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Connecticut teaching assistants (including paras) are paid an annual average salary of $29,230, about $5,000 more than the national average. The average para salary is about 42 percent of the $68,580 salary of an elementary general education teacher and 41 percent of the $71,810 paid to a special education teacher.

The study will now conduct a survey of school districts’ human resources and special education  departments will seek data about: actual numbers of full- and part-time NCIS, their job titles, the students and/or classrooms they support; and numbers and types of grievances raised, injuries reported, and workers’ compensation cases filed. Further data analysis will focus on contract provisions, job descriptions, and school and district staffing patterns. The final report is expected to be released after the legislature returns in January, at which time we can expect there to be additional public hearings.  CSEA members will be ready testify at  public hearings following the release of the final report.  Stay tuned…

Paid for by CSEA SEIU Local 2001.  This message was made independent of any candidate or political party.  More information about CSEA SEIU Local 2001 may be found on the state elections commission internet website.

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Governor Issues Proclamation on Paraprofessional Appreciation Day

April 3rd is Paraprofessional Appreciation Day, and this year we received an official proclamation from Governor Malloy thanking us for our hard work.  The first Wednesday of each April has been set aside to show appreciation for paraprofessionals providing service in multiple educational settings to assist our students so they can be successful.  CSEA wishes to join in thanking our Paraprofessionals:   Your contributions are so important that one day of appreciation a year is certainly not enough.

Para Day Gov Proclomation

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