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Monday, March 1, 2021

Richard Carranza Sued For Forcing Wakanda Salute and "Toxic Whiteness" Policies

 

Carranza and the "Wakanda Salute" (Raphael Epinal, far right)
photo: Twitter, Meisha Porter

Chancellor Richard Carranza has been labelled the worst Chancellor in New York City Department of Education's history of terrible leadership. That's pretty damaging for his future career as an educator, but it is hard to disagree.

His destructive policies included firing white senior staff in favor of people with more diverse backgrounds, in a pledge to drain the swamp of white leaders even if it meant more disengagement of parents and students.

This strategy could be called a "Cancel Whiteness Culture".

Who benefits? No one.

City Has Lost Contact With 2,600 Students Since MarBetsy Combier


Who is Richard Carranza? DoE Chancellor steps down after shocking ‘Wakanda’ controversy and $90 million lawsuit

A Bronx educator has claimed she was fired partly as a result of her refusal to imitate a salute to Black power from the 2018 film 'Black Panther'

By Saumya Dixit
Updated On : 08:18 PST, Feb 26, 2021

A veteran educator from the Bronx recently claimed she was fired after she denied mimicking a salute to Black power from the 2018 film, 'Black Panther', during her superintendent meetings. Another veteran also made serious claims and said she was also targeted by Department of Education, Chancellor Richard Carranza. Both of them have sued him.

The Department of Education Chancellor is now stepping down after three controversial years, city officials said in a surprise announcement Friday, February 26, 2021. According to the DoE, his last day will be March 15 — and he will be replaced by current Bronx Executive Superintendent Meisha Ross-Porter. “It’s been an honor of a lifetime to serve as a chancellor and from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve you and my children,” Carranza said at a press briefing with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

At the official get-together of the top heads of the Department of Education, then-Bronx superintendent Porter frequently asked the group to do the arms-across-the-chest gesture of solidarity from the mythical African nation of Wakanda. The salute is recognized as a symbol of empowerment.

But Rafaela Espinal, an Afro-Latina origin lady, a Dominican-American refused to join in, she “was admonished and told that it was inappropriate for her not to participate,” according to a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed on February 3, 2021, against the city Department of Education, Chancellor Richard Carranza and some of his top-ranking officers.

Espinal was one year away from receiving a lifetime DOE pension when she was abruptly fired from her job as a head of Community School District 12 in the Bronx without any reason given. This happened after she repeatedly declined to do the 'Wakanda Forever' salute, according to the lawsuit.

She blames her firing partly on this reason. Espinal, who recently earned a doctorate, wanted to keep her retirement bonuses and health insurance, ultimately accepted the demotion to school investigator, a role which requires only a high school diploma and which left her with no permanent desk or phone.

Porter, who was later elevated by Carranza to the post of “executive superintendent,” a promotion she celebrated with a lavish gala, has a Twitter timeline packed with group shots of DOE staff doing the 'Wakanda Forever' salute. One-shot shows Carranza who is not able to perform the gesture correctly.

The image showed Carranza, Porter, Espinal and others during the chancellor’s tour of the five boroughs, according to a source.

In another story covered by The NY Post, another educator made serious claims against Carranza. Karen Ames, a 30-year Department of Education employee, stated that she was targeted by Carranza’s 'Disrupt and Dismantle' campaign to remove or marginalize longtime employees because she is over 40, and Jewish. “The agenda of Chancellor Carranza and his senior leadership team were euphemistically touted as an ‘equity platform’ but in reality, it was a platform used to create gender, age, racial and ethnic divisions in the NYC School system,” she contends in her Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed Friday, February 19. Just like Espinal, Ames also declined requests at the superintendents' meetings to take part in the comic book movie-inspired “Wakanda Forever” salute to “black power,” she charges in the legal filing.

It is not the first time that Carranza made news for his racial stand. Back in 2019, the Special Commissioner of Investigation probed a complaint that Carranza hired two former out-of-state colleagues for the posts with the help of waivers. He was questioned for creating a new position of “senior executive director of continuous improvement” — for associate Abram Jimenez at a salary of $205,416. Asked about the controversy, Carranza said he was being targeted “as a man of color.”

In 2019, three senior white educators charged a whopping $90 million lawsuit against Carranza stating that they were demoted in favor of less-qualified minority educators as part of a crusade to make the agency’s top management reflect the ethnic makeup of students. 

The suit filed by Lois Herrera, Jaye Murray and Laura Feijoo, three white women and senior administrators said that they were left by the wayside in Carranza’s push to make sure his top staff reflected the fact that 70 percent of city students are a minority.

“If you draw a paycheck from DOE,” you will either “get on board with (his) equity platform or leave,” Carranza is charged with saying. When asked if he said that and if so what was meant by it, Carranza said, “I did not say that, absolutely did not say that. I give pep talks to the employees of the DOE all the time,” adding, “It’s critically important that we remain focused on our mission. Let me be really clear: our mission is to serve every one of the 1.1 million students under our care. That’s our mission. And if your agenda is not to serve our students, if your agenda is an adult agenda and not a student agenda then perhaps the Department of Education is not the right department for you to work in.”

According to NYC Govt's official website, "During Carranza’s over 30 years in education, he has served in virtually every role. Prior to New York City, he was the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, the largest school district in Texas, and the seventh-largest in the United States. Before that, he served the San Francisco Unified School District, first as deputy superintendent and then as superintendent.

Before moving to San Francisco, Carranza was the Northwest Region superintendent for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas. He began his career as a high school, bilingual social studies and music teacher, and then as a principal, both in Tucson, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada."

********************************************************************

A Racist Autocracy at the New York City Department of Education?

Veteran Bronx educator claims she was fired after refusing ‘Black Panther’ salute

Pledge your allegiance to “Wakanda Forever” — or else.

A veteran Bronx educator claims she was fired in part because she refused to mimic a salute to Black power from the 2018 comic-book movie “Black Panther” during superintendent meetings.

At official gatherings of high-level Department of Education bosses, then-Bronx superintendent Meisha Ross Porter often asked the group to do the arms-across-the-chest gesture of solidarity from the mythical African nation of Wakanda. The salute is considered a symbol of empowerment.


When Rafaela Espinal (pictured at left) — a Dominican-American who describes herself as Afro-Latina — declined to join in, she “was admonished and told that it was inappropriate for her not to participate,” according to a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed Feb. 3 against the city DOE, Chancellor Richard Carranza and some of his top-ranking lieutenants.

Espinal was one year shy of earning a lifetime DOE pension when she was abruptly fired from her role as head of Community School District 12 in Bronx without explanation, after repeatedly refusing to do the “Wakanda Forever” salute, according to the lawsuit.

Desperate to keep her retirement benefits and health insurance, the single mom — who recently earned a doctorate — eventually accepted a humiliating demotion to school investigator, a role which requires only a high school diploma and which left her with no permanent desk or phone.

Porter, who was later elevated by Carranza to the post of “executive superintendent,” a promotion she celebrated with a lavish gala, has a Twitter timeline packed with group shots of DOE staff doing the “Wakanda Forever” salute. One shot features Carranza — who couldn’t manage to perform the gesture correctly in the pose — and Espinal.

The image showed Carranza, Porter, Espinal and others during the chancellor’s tour of the five boroughs, according to a source.

But when repeatedly asked to salute “Wakanda” at other professional meetings, Espinal felt the gesture “introduced a racial divide where there should be none,” said her lawyers, Israel Goldberg, Helen Setton, and Domenic Recchia.

Porter would often talk about the militant civil rights group the Black Panthers when asking superintendents to do the “Wakanda” salute, noting her father was a member, the attorneys said.

But the symbolic gesture associated with the group is the iconic single raised fist, as made famous by American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics, not the cross-armed greeting popularized by the record-breaking superhero flick, which grossed more than $1.34 billion at the box office.

Forcing colleagues to do the “Wakanda” salute “corrupted” it, Goldberg said.

“The gesture was hijacked,” he noted.

The DOE insists the famous cross-arm gesture doesn’t refer to “Black power,” but is instead “a symbol used to represent the Bronx.”

Fellow DOE administrators also allegedly told Espinal she wasn’t “Black enough” and she should “just learn to be quiet and look pretty,” she claims in the $40 million suit.

Espinal, 50, claims racial fissures began to emerge in superintendent meetings in the fall of 2017, when some Black administrators would meet separately after the larger group’s monthly gatherings.

Soon, only the birthdays of Black superintendents were recognized at official meetings, she claims.

The racial tensions bubbled up just as the controversial Carranza was appointed chancellor of city schools in April 2018, and began pushing a platform of racial “equity” that critics have blasted as divisive and educationally problematic.

Espinal alleges Jose Ruiz, an advisor to then-first deputy chancellor Cheryl Watson-Harris, degraded her race and gender, saying, “You are so pretty but then you enter the room open your mouth and intimidate men and people.”

Watson-Harris, who has since jumped ship from the DOE to take charge of schools in DeKalb County, Georgia, didn’t even get Espinal’s district correct in her August 2018 termination letter, writing “you will not longer serve in District 8.”

Espinal was told the DOE was moving “in a new direction” and that she “did not fit into that agenda,” according to the legal filing.

She was forced to clean out her office on a Sunday and district staffers were forbidden to communicate with her, Espinal charges in court papers.

Porter and Watson-Harris declined to comment.

A DOE spokeswoman said the department is “committed to fostering a safe, inclusive work environment and strongly dispute any claims of discrimination or improper treatment.” 

Friday, February 26, 2021

NYC SCHOOLS' CHANCELLOR RICHARD CARRANZA RESIGNS, Bronx District 11 Superintendent Meisha Porter Replaces Him

 

Richard Carranza welcomed Middle School students to their first day of in-person classes at the One World Middle School
 in the Bronx on October 1, 2020. 
(Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News)

NYC schools head Richard Carranza exits, to be replaced by Meisha Ross Porter, the first Black woman to lead system

The resignation of Richard Carranza as NYC Chancellor will not change anything. The  Department of Education needs an entire overhaul of the leadership, as well as an extremely deep investigation into the DOE's procurement procedures and payments out for the past 20 years.

We need to clean up the fraud of education policy in New York City. 

City Has Lost Contact With 2,600 Students Since MarBetsy Combier

NYC schools head Richard Carranza resigns, Meisha Porter to become system’s first Black woman chancellor

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 
FEB 26, 2021  9:58 AM






Richard Carranza, the New York City schools' chancellor who ignited fiery conversations about race and segregation in education and oversaw the seismic shift to remote learning throughout the coronavirus pandemic, will step down March 15 after a three-year tenure, Mayor de Blasio announced Friday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (right), DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza (left), along with a large group of unidentified aides and
NYPD Intel Officers are seen arriving at P.S. 5 Port Morris at 564 Jackson Ave. in the Bronx on early Monday for the school reopening. 
(Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

He will be replaced by Meisha Porter, who currently serves as executive superintendent for the Bronx. Porter will become the first Black woman chancellor of the nation’s largest public school system.

Meisha Ross Porter (NYC Dept. of Education)

Carranza’s departure will take effect a year to the day after the hectic Sunday last March when officials shuttered city school buildings in an unprecedented response to the growing threat of COVID-19

A year later, roughly 250,000 of the city’s nearly million public school students are attending in-person classes.

City officials say Carranza is stepping aside on his own accord and doesn’t have a new position lined up. The schools' chief has suffered a brutal personal toll from the coronavirus, losing multiple family members to the illness, he’s said on multiple occasions in recent months.

“It has been my greatest honor to serve as New York City Schools Chancellor and I can’t think of anyone who would be better to take the helm than Meisha Porter,” Carranza said in a statement.

The highest ranks of the city Education Department have thinned as Mayor de Blasio’s tenure comes to a close, with the second-in-command, Chief Operating Officer, and senior adviser on school reopening all leaving the DOE in the past year.

New mayors typically install their own chancellors, and all of the city’s Democratic mayoral contenders confirmed at a recent forum they would likely replace Carranza.

Carranza’s arrival in New York City three years ago followed a shocking about-face from Mayor de Blasio’s first choice for the position, Alberto Carvalho, who changed his mind about taking the post on live television.

Carranza, a former superintendent of the San Francisco and Houston school systems, kicked off his tenure on a jovial note.

The Arizona native and accomplished Mariachi musician gleefully told reporters at his introductory press conference “if I am asked to sing chances are I’m gonna sing. If I’m asked to play, chances are I’m gonna play. And if I’m not asked to sing or play, chances are I’m gonna sing and play!”

Carranza, true to his word, was never shy about vocalizing.

He kicked up long-simmering questions about segregation and race in city schools in a single tweet month into his tenure, posting a story that characterized the complaints of white parents at a meeting on school rezoning as “angrily rant[ing] against the plan to bring more black kids to their school.”

Carranza went on to explicitly denounce the policy of screening students for admission to public schools and call for an end to the exam that controls entry to the city’s specialized high schools.

His policy approaches to those issues, however, were much more muted. A plan to end the specialized high school exam stalled in Albany and rollback of admissions screens is proceeding piecemeal, rather than system-wide.

Carranza’s rhetoric on race and within the Education Department won fervent support from educators and parents who felt he gave voice to deeply embedded inequities.

It also sparked significant pushback from detractors who felt his sharp rhetoric and zeal to alter admissions policies and curriculum demonized white educators and unfairly punished Asian-American students.

Officials also pointed to a rising graduation rate under Carranza’s tenure and the city’s official adoption of culturally responsive education, a practice that seeks to incorporate kids’ identities and backgrounds into their curriculum.

In recent weeks, Carranza has voiced his opposition to the practice of testing 4-year-old children for the city’s Gifted and Talented program, and this week encouraged parents to exercise their right to opt-out of standardized tests this spring.

Carranza and de Blasio heaped praise on his successor in Friday statements.

“Today is a historic day for New York City schools. Meisha Porter is a homegrown New Yorker who knows what it takes to give every kid the high-quality public school education they deserve,” said Mayor de Blasio.

Porter grew up and attended public schools in Queens, served as a teacher and principal for 18 years at the Bronc School for Law, Government, and Justice, and became superintendent of the Bronx’s District 11.

She took over in 2018 as the Bronx’s Executive Superintendent — a role that Carranza created to add an additional level of supervision over district school chiefs. Graduation rates in the Bronx rose from 67% in 2018 to 73% last year, officials said.

“As a lifelong New Yorker, a product of our City’s public schools, and a career educator, it is the honor of my lifetime to serve as Chancellor,” said Porter. “Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza have laid an incredible foundation for me and I am ready to hit the ground running and lead New York City schools to a full recovery.”

Michael Elsen-Rooney

Michael Elsen-Rooney

Education Reporter
Mike Elsen-Rooney covers education for the Daily News. He previously covered education for The Teacher Project at Columbia Journalism School and The Hechinger Report, and his work has appeared in The Atlantic, Bloomberg, and the Boston Globe Magazine, among others. Mike’s a former high school Spanish teacher and afterschool program coordinator.

Richard Carranza's Letter to Parents:

I hope you and your families are keeping safe and healthy. I’m writing today with some important news.

After three years leading the DOE, I will be stepping down as Chancellor in March.

I am full of mixed emotions to leave the DOE family. It has been the honor of my career to serve you, and help your child’s school and our whole system get closer to reaching its full potential. The strength and resilience of your children—our 1 million students—is awe-inspiring. It is what drove me through this unprecedented crisis, and it is what I take with me as I leave this post. The commitment and support you have shown to your children, and to your school communities, is incredible.

Throughout my career, my guiding light has been the belief that public education is the most powerful equalizer for children. Public education anchors communities. Public education makes it possible for a child who is poor, or who lives in temporary housing, or—in my own case—who doesn’t speak English when they enter the public school system to develop their dreams, and then to chase them. Truly, it is public education that expresses the highest ideals of our democracy. My time in New York City has only strengthened this belief, as I have seen it play out time and again, in schools all across the boroughs.

And together, we have seen proof. Our seniors kept breaking their own records as graduation rates and college enrollment kept rising higher, and the dropout rate kept getting lower.

We also made true progress in dismantling the structures and policies that are the products of decades of entrenched racism in the city and country. We have worked to undo segregation and turn “equity” from an esoteric concept to a reality. Every school that no longer screens children for admission, and every district that uses DOE resources to create more space for low-income students, or English language learners, is making this mission real.

We finally brought the mental health of our children into the spotlight and made it a major priority so that every child can feel welcomed, comfortable, and safe in their classroom and school community—especially now, when so many of our students are dealing with unforeseeable trauma.

And, of course, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we transformed the nation’s largest school system overnight in order to protect the health of our students, staff, families, and communities. We have reinvented what it means to teach and learn in New York City public schools.

All throughout, I have been proud to prioritize what’s best for kids over what’s politically popular. I have never been afraid of hard conversations. I have always believed that we need to set a high bar for every student—and then do what it takes to help them meet it.

You, your children, and the dedicated staff who serve you deserve both continuity and courageous leadership from your next Chancellor. You need someone who knows firsthand the reality on the ground at our schools and has the talent and leadership to finish the school year out strong and drive towards bringing every child back to buildings in September.

That is why I am so proud that one of the most important leaders in this work will take on the privilege and responsibility of being your next Chancellor: Meisha Porter.

Meisha is a 20-year veteran of New York City public schools and currently serves as Bronx Executive Superintendent. In this role, she leads community school districts 7-12, covering the entire borough and its 361 schools and 235,000 students. She is a lifelong New Yorker and product of our public schools who first joined the Department of Education as a teacher at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice—a school she helped conceive. After 18 years at the school, where she became Principal, Meisha spent three years as Superintendent of District 11, serving the Pelham Parkway, Eastchester, and Woodlawn neighborhoods of the Bronx. She has been Executive Superintendent since 2018, and in that time, the students of the Bronx have achieved significant academic gains, and schools have gotten stronger and stronger.

Meisha is an unparalleled warrior for our students and our schools. She attended them, she taught in them, she led them, and now she will be Chancellor for ALL of them. None of the last several Chancellors—myself included—have been actively working with our schools, day in and day out, at the time they were appointed. Meisha will break the mold, bringing all her experience, past and present, to support you and your children. You will be hearing much more from Meisha soon, and I will be working with her over the next several weeks to ensure a smooth and productive transition.

More than anything, I am proud to have served you and so proud of the strides we have made. I don’t know what’s next for me, but I know I will take the spirit and richness of New York City with me anywhere and everywhere I go.

It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as your Chancellor. I am grateful to each and every one of you.

Monday, February 8, 2021

The "Situation Room" and Middle Schools Set To Open For In-Person Classes on February 25

 

Students socially distance as they wait to go inside the One World Middle School at 3750 Baychester Ave. in
the Bronx on Oct. 1, 2020. 
(Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News)

Parents and teachers in NYC will have to reach a level of trust in the information that all measures have been taken to provide health and safety to all who go back to NYC buildings, in this case, all middle schools.

How many parents, teachers, staff have heard of the "Situation Room"? Send me a comment to this blog if you have, and what happens inside. 

Parents we spoke to are skeptical of anything the NYC DOE says. Grades are still being inflated, many students are getting high grades without doing any work, testing is non-existent, and information is too little or none about important information such as whether nurses are available on-site, how many kids do not, will not, or cannot, wear masks and other important topics.

Teachers are also aware of the misinformation coming out of Tweed, the NYC DOE headquarters, that all safety measures have been taken.

The bottom line is, all stakeholders must believe that the city government is not just trying to get funding streams working again.

Whether this will happen is an unknown.

City Has Lost Contact With 2,600 Students Since March

City Has Lost Contact With 2,600 Students Since March

City Has Lost Contact With 2,600 Students Since MarBetsy Combier

betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog

Letter from Chancellor Carranza:

Dear Middle School Families, 

 I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I am writing to you today with an exciting update: we will be reopening our middle schools for in-person learning on Thursday, February 25.

 Since the beginning of the school year, I have heard from many of you who are eager to have your child return to a physical classroom. We are pleased that we can now re-open our buildings to students in grades 6, 7, and 8 in a manner that prioritizes health and safety, while offering the educational experience of learning with our dedicated educators in person.

 

We have developed strong practices to help keep school communities healthy and safe, and to maximize in- person learning time for students learning in our buildings. Here is what you need to know about how your school will return to in-person learning:

 

Weekly COVID-19 Testing and Mandatory Consent

 

·       All schools will have 20% of students and staff randomly tested on a weekly basis. 

·       All students who have not already done so are required to provide consent for testing by their first scheduled in-person learning day in order to learn in person.

·       Families are encouraged to submit consent through your NYC Schools Account at mystudent.nyc prior to their child’s first day of in-person learning.

 If you already have a NYCSA account linked to your student(s):

·       Log in, click your student’s name, click “Manage Account,” and then when a dropdown menu appears, click “Consent Forms.”

·       Read the page, and then choose the consent option at the end for your student.

 

If you do not already have a NYCSA account:

·       You can create one right away! If you have an account creation code from your school, you can create a full account in approximately five minutes, and then provide consent as described above.

·       If you do not have an account creation code from your school, you can still provide your consent right away by clicking “Manage Consent” under “COVID-19 Testing” and filling out your and your child’s information to provide consent.

·       You can also print and submit the form attached to this letter.

·       Students who do not submit consent will be immediately transitioned to fully remote learning.

 Learning Preference & In-Person Schedule

Those of you who chose blended learning as your child’s learning preference, either prior to the beginning of the school year or during the November opt-in period, will soon be contacted by your child’s school with their new schedule.

 If you previously selected blended learning but wish to stay fully remote, you may do so by changing your preference as soon as possible at https://www.nycenet.edu/surveys/learningpreference.

 

Attendance

Please note that students in blended learning are required to attend in-person on a consistent basis. Your school

will reach out if your child is not attending in-person regularly, and will transition your child to fully remote learning if irregular in-person attendance continues. This will allow schools to maximize in-person instructional

days for students who are attending in-person.

 

If You Travel

Please remember that students and staff who have recently traveled outside of New York to a place on the

State’s travel advisory list must quarantine for 10 days, or test out of the 10-day quarantine based on the State’s guidance, which can be found at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory.

 ·       DOE students continue to have access to priority testing at H+H sites across the city; a list of sites can be found here: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-year-20-21/return-to-school-2020/health-and- safety/covid-19-testing.

 

No matter where your child is learning, we are committed to ensuring they receive a strong, supportive education. We know how important school is for your student, whether blended or remote—and our dedication to them remains unwavering during this challenging time.

 

Sincerely,

Richard A. Carranza

Chancellor

New York City Department of Education

NYC Middle Schools Will Restart In-Person Classes February 25

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 
FEB 08, 2021  9:18 AM

New York City middle schools will restart in-person classes on Feb. 25 after more than three months of remote-only school, officials announced Monday.
The public junior highs have been closed for in-person instruction since the middle of November when the entire school system was briefly shuttered because of rising COVID-19 rates.
Officials reopened preschools, elementary schools, and District 75 programs for students with complex disabilities at the beginning of December with increased testing, but said they needed more time to plan the logistics of middle and high school reopening.
Schools with in-person classes are required to test 20% of students and staff on-site each week. Officials say they now have the testing capacity to extend that regimen to middle schools.
Officials said they’ll also add staff to the “situation room” — a clearinghouse for recording school-based COVID-19 cases and relaying information to contact tracers.
Temporary school closures triggered by multiple COVID-19 cases in the same school building have become commonplace since the partial reopening in early December.
Roughly 62,000 students in grades six to eight had signed up for in-person classes before the school system shuttered in November.
Situation Room - NYC DOE Press Release:

City Launches Department of Education COVID-19 Situation Room

September 14, 2020

Multi-agency partnership provides a single point-of-contact for rapid information sharing and response to COVID-19 cases in schools

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced the opening of the DOE COVID Response Situation Room—a  multi-agency partnership between the Department of Education, Department of Health and Mental Health, and the Test & Trace Corps—to facilitate a rapid response to positive COVID-19 cases in public schools. The Situation Room provides a single point-of-contact between schools and agency partners responsible for performing both testing, contact tracing, and ensuring the appropriate interventions are being taken by school communities.

“The Situation Room is the precise system we need to identify, trace, and treat positive cases within our school communities,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.  “My pledge is simple: every case will be met with swift and decisive action to keep transmission low and our kids and teachers safe.”

This unprecedented school year requires all hands on deck, and that’s exactly what we’ll have in the Situation Room, resulting in quick, decisive action for our schools and clarity and transparency for all families,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “ Our principals will now have a one-stop shop to raise concerns and receive rapid, coordinated responses that put the health and safety of our school communities first.”

“Keeping our students and teachers safe requires an unprecedented response to an unprecedented time.  Through our multi-agency partnership, we are ensuring a clear path of communication, decisiveness, and transparency to give Principals and school leaders incorrect information they need in order to lead their communities as well as providing families and staff with the transparency and clarity of action they deserve.  Our focus is the health and wellbeing of our school communities and we will achieve this together.” said Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca.

Beginning today, school leaders can call the Situation Room if they receive notice from a staff member, student, or parent/family member of a positive COVID-19 test or if a student or staff member is isolating or sent home with symptoms. School leaders are encouraged to contact the Situation Room if they have any alerts, questions, or concerns related to responding to suspected or confirmed cases.

Upon reporting a possible case to the Situation Room, DOHMH will verify the case and, if needed, trigger a Test + Trace investigation. Case response will begin within three hours for NYC residents, with documented cases being confirmed as quickly as 15 minutes. Schools will communicate to all families and students within school anytime a case is laboratory-confirmed and what next steps need to be taken - including whether or not students and staff need to quarantine or if the school will be temporarily shut down.

The Situation Room will be open Monday through Friday, 5:30 AM – 9:30 PM, and Sunday, 11:00 AM – 9:30 pm. Response to reported cases will follow the previously announced health and safety policies found here.  

In the interest of the health and safety of our entire city, DOHMH recommends that all New Yorkers get tested, whether or not they have symptoms or are at increased risk. School staff and students can receive free, expedited COVID-19 testing at 22 city-run testing locations. Testing is one component of stopping the spread that, when combined with social distancing, face coverings, proper hand hygiene, and staying home when you are sick, can significantly decrease the risk of transmission.