Feb-Mar 2022 Advisor





CEA joins national initiative to increase mental health literacy In response to our nation’s mental health crisis, CEA will offer Mental groundbreaking, skills-based course gives people the tools to identify, understand, and respond to someone who might be struggling with a mental health issue or substance use challenge and connect them with appropriate support and resources. “The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on our communities,” says CEA Teacher Development Specialist Kate Field, who is trained in Mental Health First Aid. “Teachers are feeling it. Students are feeling it. And resources are in short supply. With Mental Health First Aid training, we can all be more prepared to step in and help those in crisis.” and the pandemic has dramatically increased depression and anxiety, but many individuals are reluctant to seek help or don’t know where to turn for care. Unlike physical conditions, symptoms of mental health and substance use problems can be difficult to detect. Friends and family members may find it hard to know when and how to step in. As a result, those in need often go without the mental health services that could help them. Just as CPR (which can double or triple a person’s chances of surviving a Health First Aid training to interested members. This By the numbers One in five Americans has a mental illness,


1 in5 Americans has a mental illness, and the pandemic has dramatically increased depression and anxiety, but many individuals are reluctant to seek help or don’t know where to turn for care.


If you contracted COVID-19 and experienced financial hardship due to lost wages or out-of-pocket medical expenses, you may be eligible to receive reimbursement from the Connecticut Essential Workers COVID-19 Assistance Program. The program is accepting applications at ctessentialworkerrelief.org until July 20, 2022, and funds will be provided on a first-come, first- served basis. Assistance ends June 30, 2024, or when the fund is depleted, whichever comes first. What expenses are reimbursable? The fund will reimburse eligible educators for • Lost wages, including unpaid leave for those unable to work after contracting COVID-19 or due to symptoms later diagnosed as COVID-19 • Out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19 that were not covered by insurance • Burial/funeral expenses up to $3,000 for an eligible educator/ essential worker who died from COVID-19 Who is eligible? • Eligible essential workers are those who were included in CDC vaccination phase 1a (all healthcare workers) and 1b (all other essential workers, which includes educators and school staff). • They must have worked in person during the period of March 10, 2020, to July 20, 2021. • Essential workers with pending workers’ compensation claims may also apply for the Connecticut Essential Workers COVID-19 Assistance Program. The Workers’ Compensation Commission will be notified of any assistance provided, to prevent double dipping. Workers’ compensation claims are not required to file for or receive assistance from this fund. The Connecticut General Assembly authorized $34 million in funding for this relief program, which will be administered by the Connecticut Office of the State Comptroller. Learn more at ctessentialworkerrelief.org. Learn more at ctessentialworkerrelief.org

heart attack) can be successfully performed by someone without formal medical training, Mental Health First Aid can similarly equip people to help those experiencing a mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aiders learn a 5-step Action Plan that guides them through the process of reaching out and offering appropriate support.

In just 12 years, Mental Health First Aid has become a full-blown movement in the United States — more than 2.5 million people are certified Mental Health First Aiders, and that number is growing every day. “Never has it been more important to talk about mental health,” says Field, “and to eliminate the stigma.”

For more information or to arrange a Mental Health First Aid training for teachers in your school or district, contact CEA Teacher Development Specialist Kate Field at katef@cea.org


The Connecticut State Department of Education is in the process of creating new guidelines for teacher evaluation. These new guidelines, if approved by Connecticut’s State Board of Education, are scheduled to be made public this spring and will require that every district rewrite or substantially revise its existing evaluation plans for both teachers and administrators. Districts will be able to make these changes over the course of the 2022-2023 school year, and if new plans are approved by the CSDE, they will go into effect in 2023- 2024. Districts wishing to implement the existing evaluation flexibilities while the revision process is underway will be permitted to do so. The new guidelines are being created in collaboration with the Educator Evaluation and Support Council (EES), consisting of major stakeholder groups that include CEA, AFT Connecticut, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), and the Regional Education Service Centers (RESC) Alliance, among others. Direct input from professional development and evaluation committee (PDEC) members, teachers, and administrators also helped shape some of the upcoming changes. “CEA used its voice on the EES Council to advocate for a simpler, streamlined evaluation process that minimizes stress and saves time, allowing teachers to focus less on paperwork and more on teaching and learning,” says CEA Vice President Joslyn DeLancey, who serves on the council. “We also advocated for new guidelines that are not punitive in nature, but rather clearly focused on supporting educator growth and innovation.” CEA will share the new state guidelines as soon as they are approved and made available. Watch your inbox for additional guidance from CEA on implementing evaluation changes in ways that alleviate stress, save time, and promote teacher and student growth and well-being.

What teachers need to know: • New, improved teacher evaluation guidelines are coming soon. • PDECs need to be ready to implement upcoming changes over the 2022-2023 school year. All changes must be made through mutual agreement among members of the PDEC. • If you are not on the PDEC, make sure to share your ideas with a member of your PDEC or your local union president to ensure your voice is part of the revision process. • If you are a local president, consider dedicating an association meeting to understanding the new guidelines and soliciting feedback from teachers to help guide the PDEC’s decisions. CEA is available to assist at any point in the process. • Evaluation flexibilities in place this year can be extended into next year. If your district did not adopt the flexibilities this year, the PDEC may still mutually agree do so next year. Be on the lookout for future guidance from CEA on implementing the new guidelines in teacher-friendly ways. Subscribe to receive updates at cea.org/daily .

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