Mideastern Region PSEA

April Newsletter

Welcome to the Mideastern Region newsletter! Each month we will be featuring information to help our members stay informed, get involved, and advocate for our profession.

Our region represents the 15,168 public school educators across the 35 school districts and two intermediate units of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Your hard work and the power of collective bargaining help to bring an exceptional education to the 195,426 students in our buildings.

A Temporary New Normal

Everything is different and the same all at once. When I looked at last month's newsletter as a starting point for this one, a few things crossed my mind. Among them: "look at all the fun things we had planned!" and "oh, remember when people could stand next to one another?"


COVID-19 has flipped our worlds upside down, both professionally and personally. PSEA members are reporting to work as essential personnel, completing professional development opportunities, and/or learning to teach students from our sofas and basements. We all know that our situation is imperfect and temporary, but sometimes that doesn't make it any easier. Thank you to everyone who is working to make what we do look easy when we all know it's more complex than we ever imagined.


Times are different because our world is different, but times are also the same because our passion, dedication, and commitment to public education and collective action hasn't wavered. Please take a few minutes to read below and learn about the opportunities, supports, and information available to all PSEA members as we work to navigate this temporary new normal together.


-Bill Senavaitis, Central Bucks EA

Mideastern Region President

HealthCare-PSEA

Many PSEA members continue to report to work to support our communities and students during this pandemic, but did you know that we have members taking care of their patients/residents, too? The 55 members of the Bucks County Nurses Association are part of both HealthCare-PSEA and AFT Healthcare. They are the only local in PSEA consisting of registered nurses and other healthcare professionals that work for a public entity. If you've interacted with the Bucks County Department of Health or visited Neshaminy Manor in Doylestown, you've likely met a fellow dedicated PSEA member. We applaud all of our members across Bucks and Montgomery Counties who are working to keep our communities safe and supported during this crisis.

Save Money

We spend a lot of time talking about how much our members earn - and maybe not enough time talking about how those earnings are spent. PSEA Member Benefits can save you and your family money on everything from insurance to hearing aids. Spend some time browsing our website today!

Your Clearances Will Soon Expire

Act 153 of 2014 requires school employees to provide or renew State Police/FBI record checks and child abuse clearance statements. Additional changes to the law went into effect July 1, 2015. PSEA wants to ensure that all members understand how this policy affects them. Updated clearances are required every 60 months from the date of the oldest clearance. If you obtained your clearances when this law went into effect, you are approaching the end of the 60 month term. Please reach out to your HR department or visit this website for more information.


"But how am I supposed to complete my clearances during a pandemic??"


PSEA as well as organizations representing school administrators and others involved in public education are all aware of the issues surrounding the process for securing required clearances during the pandemic. We are currently talking to the Departments of Education and Human Services along with legislators in an effort to seek temporary relief from background clearance deadlines for school employees.


Currently, there are three clearances that individuals must obtain: a child abuse clearance, a criminal background check from the PA state police, and an FBI fingerprint background check. Two of these can simply be obtained online: the child abuse clearance and the State Police background check. PSEA recommends that you take action to complete these two requirements.


At the current time there are only a few IdentoGO sites open across the commonwealth, and most of them have limited hours. This means it is difficult, if not impossible, for many individuals to obtain their FBI background checks. If your FBI clearance is going to expire before the end of the school year and you cannot access an IndentoGO site, contact your local president and your UniServ representative.


We know that the commonwealth is working with the federal government on a daily basis to seek some type of resolution to this issue. PSEA, too, will be working with NEA to pressure the federal government for temporary relief.

Teach Happier

As teachers, we work hard to nurture the whole child - this workshop is designed to nurture the whole TEACHER! We are the best teachers in front of students when we feel well-balanced ourselves. In this interactive session, you will learn realistic, manageable and proactive strategies that are based in positive psychology. These strategies can be used with our school families and with our families at home. These small shifts, practiced over time, will help us teach happier! This Act 48/Chapter 14 workshop will be presented by Suzanne Dailey, Central Bucks EA Staff Development, on Monday, April 20th from 4-6pm via Google Hangouts. To register, please click here.

NEW Professional Development Opportunities

Educators Growing Together is designed to bring groups of PSEA members together to share ideas and respond to one another’s questions about specific challenges related to our new teaching and learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The forums reflect a belief that the most effective way for PSEA members to cope with these new and sudden professional demands is together and the best source of information for problem-solving is each other. All participants will receive two hours of Act 48/Chapter 14 for submitting written responses to and attending one online discussion with PSEA colleagues. For more information and to register, please visit this website.

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Governance Updates

Mideastern Region

Regions across the state have been working with PSEA Legal to determine a course of action for their region Houses of Delegates. In consultation with Katie Voye, Assistant General Counsel of PSEA, we have decided to cancel our Region House scheduled for April 23. The event will not be rescheduled, making our next region House of Delegates the previously-scheduled event occurring on Friday, November 13 at the Sheraton Bucks County.


Our region constitution and bylaws (page 66) indicate that “elected officers shall enter upon their duties on September 1, following their election and serve for a two-year term or until their successors shall enter upon their duties.”


Due to the cancellation of our spring region House, this means that members currently serving in officer positions that were to be up for election next week are able to continue to serve in their roles until our November 13 event. The members currently serving as region secretary (Sue Brown, Wissahickon EA), treasurer (Kathy Hornberger, Council Rock EA), and vice-president (Bill McGill, Perk Valley EA) have all indicated their willingness to continue to serve in their roles.


Per our bylaws, the terms of our elected state committee members cannot be extended, and those individuals who were up for election will be reappointed to serve until an election can be held on November 13.


PSEA

At the state level, the PSEA Board of Directors met via conference call to discuss options for the upcoming state House of Delegates in May. The board voted to postpone this annual meeting until the previously-scheduled December 2020 House of Delegates to occur in Philadelphia. Further information on elections that were to take place at that meeting in May will be communicated from Harrisburg.


NEA

The NEA Board of Directors will be meeting via conference call on Monday, April 20th to discuss the NEA Representative Assembly, scheduled to be held at the beginning of July in Atlanta, Georgia.


Here is the latest information on the event sent out earlier this week by NEA President Lily Eskelson García to the NEA Board of Directors, Official Observers, State Presidents, and State Executive Directors. Please read Motion 1 and Motion 2 and feel free to share the information with other delegates. Please contact our NEA Director, Debbie Lee (Abington EA) with any questions or concerns.

Thank You

We've all had to quickly adapt to new routines, procedures, and precautions during this pandemic and the terrific PSEA staff in our region are no exception. Following the governor's order to close non-essential businesses in Montgomery County, they quickly worked with their colleagues across the state to establish home offices and obtain the materials and equipment necessary to continue their important work. With each new email from a superintendent or decision from PDE, this group has done an incredible job supporting our members during this crisis. Thank you for all that you do!

What's Your Plan for June 2nd?

The PA primary is now on June 2 and it's never been easier to request a mail-in ballot! Right now, only 667 of our 15,000 members in the region have done so.


If you are a registered voter in Pennsylvania, you can request a mail-in ballot (no reason needed!) for the June 2 primary. If you request a ballot but later decide that you are able to vote in person, you can simply take the ballot to your polling place, spoil your early vote, and then vote in person as you normally would.


If you are not yet registered to vote, start the application today!

Save on your Prescriptions

No matter what type of insurance you have or who provides it, this group has the potential to save you and your family money! Give it a try... this will go one of two ways:

  1. You enter your information, discover that there's a savings, and use the coupon

  2. You enter your information, discover that the prices listed are not less than your current copay, and continue to use your insurance for the prescription as you have in the past.

In short, you can use one method, but not both, to get the lowest price available. GoodRx operates this website as well as an app.

COVID-19

As we all work through the many, many questions that our new temporary normal has introduced in our professional worlds, PSEA is working to communicate with our members about concerns they have. Visit the COVID-19 page of the PSEA website for a current listing of all available documents, and be sure to read the latest issue of Keeping Connected.

Opportunities for Giving

Our locals and members have been incredibly generous to our communities during this crisis. If you are looking for an opportunity to give, here are two for you to consider, courtesy of Bob Harvie, former Bucks County Technical High School EA member and current Bucks County Commissioner. "Having spent 26 years as a public school teacher I know how much educators care about their students. Every educator works hard to make the school environment a place of security for all children. Now is a time when those children need assistance more than ever."


Bucks County

The Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC) is the lead anti-poverty, 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. As the designated Community Action agency for the county, it is part of a national network of over 1,000 agencies dedicated to ending poverty by connecting people with the resources they need to thrive.


During this COVID-19 crisis, BCOC is focusing specifically on increasing its emergency services and food distribution response. BCOC is providing rental assistance, utility payments, and technology resources to individuals and families in need. They are on the front lines of homeless response and are connecting people to housing, even during this crisis. The usual supplemental fresh produce distribution has become an emergency food operation, getting critical resources to families in need, many for the first time in their lives. All funds are directly assisting families and individuals affected by the pandemic.


To support their work, visit www.bcoc.org and click the “Donate” button or text Give2-BCOC to 77948.


Montgomery County
The MontcoPA COVID-19 Response Fund is being administered by the Montgomery County Foundation and is supporting safety-net organizations and first responders supporting vulnerable populations. To donate, visit this website or mail a check made payable to:


Montgomery County Foundation, Inc

MontCo PA COVID-19 Response Fund

4 Sentry Parkway #302

Blue Bell, PA 19422

Don't Wait Until You are Sick

Many of the healthcare plans offered in our area feature some type of service such as Teladoc or MDLive for members to have remote access to a physician - but there's a one-time medical history set-up before you can utilize the service. Take a few minutes today to create your account while you are well so that you have quick access to care if you become sick.

PSEA Hardship Grants

The PSEA Education Foundation provides financial assistance to PSEA members who are experiencing dire hardship through illness, disability, and/or financial need. Applications are submitted to the PSEA Retirement & Welfare Committee, which reviews the applications and makes recommendations to the PSEA Education Foundation. For more information or to apply, please scroll to the bottom of this page

Removing Barriers to Learning

In November, we gathered a group of PSEA members at our office to begin discussing how we can all work together to help our students be healthy and successful. On Thursday, May 7th at 5pm we will continue those solutions-oriented dialogues. The event will feature a model of how PSEA members worked together to collect data and support their students, an update on advocacy and legislative efforts in Harrisburg, and time to work with a team of professionals from your local to begin developing your own path to improved student mental wellness.


For this event, we are asking you to assemble a TEAM from your local that may include: school counselors, psychologists, nurses, social workers/home and school visitors, dental hygienists, health/PE teachers, and support staff professionals. Additionally, your team needs to include a strong advocate – someone who is comfortable having direct conversations with administrators and school board members about the needs of your students (think local president or other officers). Registration for this online event is open to all EA and ESP members.

Hatboro-Horsham EA Supports HAT Packs

The H.A.T. (Helping Around Town) Packs program partners with public schools, community organizations, local congregations, business, and individual contributors to help fill weekend hunger gaps. Through monetary, food, and resource donations, the H.A.T. Packs program provides packs filled with non-perishable breakfast, lunch, snack, and beverage items to school children who face food insecurity. The Hatboro-Horsham EA recently donated $4,000 to this organization to help support the children in their communities. Awesome job!

Stay Connected

There are multiple ways to stay connected to our organization. If you're not yet a member of our private Facebook group, please consider joining (be sure to answer the question and let us know the name of your local). Our website it also a great place to get information about critical alerts and upcoming events.

Would you like to be an employee of PSEA?

Check out this website for a complete posting of employment opportunities with PSEA, including information on how to learn about becoming a UniServ representative. For additional information, please contact Cathy Smyth at csmyth@psea.org.

Win a Jeep Compass

Life is hectic enough... when you’re behind the wheel make driving your priority. Promise to drive undistracted and enter for your chance to win a Jeep Compass or $25,000 cash courtesy of California Casualty!

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When and How to Report Suspected Child Abuse

The documents below, prepared by our PSEA Legal Division, are the most current guidance available on reporting obligations of mandated reporters. Periodic review of this information helps us all to make sure we are in compliance with the law and our duty as educators. Please take a few minutes to review the content, and save it in case you or a colleague need it in the future.

Sue Castle Memorial Scholarship

Sue Castle was a member of Colonial EA and president of our region from 1995-1997. Each year the Montgomery County/PSEA Retired Educators group offers a scholarship to a college junior or senior enrolled in the field of education. The individual needs to be a graduate of a Montgomery County high school. If you have a family member or know of someone you respect who may benefit from the scholarship, please email Carol Cohen (carolco328@gmail.com) to get a copy of the application.


Thank you,
The Susan K Castle Memorial Scholarship Committee

Carol Cohen (carolco328@gmail.com

Diana Kernop (Kernop.mea@gmail.com)

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How To Get Therapy When You Can't Leave The House

With the U.S. at the epicenter of a global pandemic, therapy sessions (or goals to start them) might be taking a back seat. But between telecommuting, home schooling, unemployment woes, toilet paper shortages and an ever-present sense of doom, mental health care is more important than ever. Check out this article from NPR for resources.


Also, don't forget about the mental health supports provided to you by your district via your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) such as HealthAdvocate or Penn Behavioral Health. If you are unsure of the name of your provider and how to access their services, reach out to your local president or HR department.

Helping Our Communities

At our Fall region House of Delegates held in Montgomery County we asked our members to donate food items for Manna on Main Street. Attendees were generous in their giving and we were able to drop off a whole truckload of supplies after the event.


Under normal circumstances, we would be asking delegates to our Spring House in Bucks County to make a contribution to an organization that benefits the other half of our region.


Even though our Spring House next week is cancelled, we still want to support our communities in Bucks County. Mideastern Region is making a $300 donation to the Bucks County Opportunity Council which will be matched by PSEA headquarters with a $300 donation to Philabundance. Thank you to everyone who is helping to fill the needs of our students and families during these unique circumstances!

Previous Editions

Did you miss our newsletter last month? Was there something from earlier this school year that you'd like to reread? Look no further!


September

October

November

December

January

February

March

Mideastern Region PSEA

Bill Senavaitis, President (bsenavaitis@psea.org)

Alan Malachowski, President- Elect (amalachowski@psea.org)

Bill McGill, Vice President (wmcgill@psea.org)

Kathy Hornberger, Treasurer

Susan Brown, Secretary

Theresa Prato, PACE Director

Debbie Lee, NEA Director (dlee@psea.org)