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Mayor de Blasio pushed back in-person school re-openings Thursday over concerns raised by union leaders.
In-person learning will now start on Sept. 29 for kids in grades kindergarten through eight. Middle schools and high schools will now re-open in-person learning on Oct. 1.
Pre-k and 3-k students will still re-open on Sept. 21, the original in-person start date.
“There are some blanks that we need to fill in," teachers union leader Michael Mulgrew said Thursday at a press conference with de Blasio. “We must make sure we get this right."
De Blasio said teacher staffing levels are the biggest concern and announced Thursday that the city will bring in another 2,500 teachers, in addition to the 2,000 he previously announced, bringing the total to 4,500 additional teachers.
Julia Marsh and Selim Algar, NY POST, September 17, 2020
De Blasio is expected to announce Thursday that classroom learning will proceed Monday for elementary school children but will be suspended indefinitely for older kids, sources said.
Critics have howled that the Department of Education was not prepared to revive city school buildings amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Teachers have questioned testing protocols and protective gear provisions while union officials have stressed acute staffing shortages.
A total of 58 percent of city parents had opted for a blended learning model that would have them alternate between classroom and home learning.
While MORE supports the idea of a responsible, phased-in, equitable reopening plan with a remote start to the year, the Mayor’s latest announcement is not it. And while UFT leadership takes credit for this short delay, we know that this wouldn’t have happened without MORE and rank-and-file UFT members in the streets this entire past week independent of UFT leadership. We also know that unfortunately, this is yet another superficial, top-down fix that does little to make the Mayor’s plan safer or more equitable.
As educators, we know that children and families need stability and clear communication from the Department of Education. The announcement today continues to erode trust that educators and families have in the Department of Education to keep our school communities safe.
This 7-9 day delay will just cause more chaos and stress for working families and school staff without addressing the many underlying problems with the Mayor’s reopening plan. D75 schools have been reporting unsafe working and learning conditions all week, yet they are slated to reopen as planned on the 21st without any additional resources or support for busing, safety, or instruction. Other grade levels are delayed by just 7-9 days, without any indication that the numerous safety concerns raised by parents and staff around COVID testing, ventilation, lunch, or PPE supplies will be addressed in that time, nor that the city will address major issues with remote learning. And although we welcome the idea of hiring more staff, at best, this seems like a temporary solution since the staff being hired are not certified pedagogues and it's not clear that the funding for these staff exists or is permanent.
Unless this short delay is used to ensure mandatory testing for all students and building workers, ensure that all buildings are upgraded with the necessary safety measures and have enough staff, ensure that every building has a social worker, counselor, and nurse, ensure staff teaching remotely can work from home, and ensure that all children have WiFi and working devices, it will be a waste of energy and impose needless stress on families.
We urge the city and the UFT to end this roller coaster and announce full remote school at least until January.
As part of this, the city must expand REC centers so that every family who needs childcare can have it five days a week(instead of just one or two) and so that our students with disabilities can have in-person services if they choose to. Mayor de Blasio has stated there will only be 30,000 childcare spots in its Learning Bridges Program which will be fully rolled out by December: this is unacceptable in a city with 1.1 million students. This is particularly essential for our housing insecure students who may not have access to WiFi where they are living. As part of remote learning, the city should also provide support for every school to use outdoor space and other spaces to supplement remote learning with opportunities for socialization. The time we gain from a remote start should be used to plan a community-driven phased-in reopening that follows the science and prioritizes the students that need the most support-- including students with IEPs, ELLs, and our youngest learners. It should also be used to expand testing capacity across the city so that we can mandate testing for 100% of students and staff, upgrade all school buildings and get feedback from stakeholders on an ultimate equitable, phased-in plan.
The Mayor has ignored and gaslit stakeholders for months and now we’re seeing the results: a chaotic unsafe reopening that doesn’t serve the needs of students or families.