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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Students Return To Schools on September 21, 2020...or Not

                              NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and UFT President Michael Mulgrew

We know teachers are fearful of returning to schools that (1) have not been sanitized enough or at all from possible contamination by COVID-19; (2) don't have sufficient ventilation/airflow; (3) don't have a nurse; (4) don't have Guidance Counselors, 1:1 paraprofessionals, OT/PT, other professionals to service special education children in violation of Federal Law. a plethora of other concerns.

The NYC DOE is in a state of panic because of their policies and funding mandate on-site seat time. No one was prepared for a pandemic (everyone understands this). Nonetheless, the Department will have to make up ghost students in order to get the funds they rely on.

How are they going to do this?

First, what New Yorkers know is that the NYC DOE fudges the books as a standard practice. An example is staffing ICT classrooms. In many schools - especially those with a high percentage of minority or non-English speaking parents - ICT classes have only one teacher, not two, and this one teacher may be a substitute, uncertified in any subject area. When this is brought up in a 3020-a disciplinary conference, where let's say the tenured teacher is charged with incompetence yet did not have a second teacher in the room as required, the Department brings in the second teacher's attendance records to show that this person was in the school building that day. Therefore, they say, the second teacher was in the ICT class (where else would they be?) and the arbitrator is silently ordered by the NYC DOE to believe this false information over the testimony of the teacher (who is simply trying desperately to not be terminated). 

Children with special needs will have one teacher in their Integrated co-teacher classroom (ICT) classroom, without 1:1 paras.

Second, we have heard that many teachers, teacher substitutes, Assistant Principals, and Principals are not going to be showing up. In fact, as reported yesterday (see below), the Mayor has  "announced the deployment of 2,000 teachers....Some of the 2,000 are certified teachers who work within the Department of Education, while others will be substitutes."

Oh, ok. So when students show up, they won't know what they will be learning, or even if the teacher in the classroom knows what they are doing.

It's called educational neglect, fraud. I call it "teacher/seat time ghosting".

The solution is to close the schools until December 31, 2020, and get remote teaching set up for all. There are wonderful resources out there that kids can use to learn at their own speed; another alternative is to subsidize learning pods where teachers do remote learning for their students in a very directed way.

There are millions of online teaching and learning resources on the internet right now. I went to Google for 3 minutes and grabbed a few. All parents and students should seek the education they want and need. It's there.

350+ Amazing Online Learning Resources

I believe that no one should be forced to go into a place where they do not feel safe. I also believe that teachers and education professionals are essential guides to the best learning experience.

I guess you can say, I'm for education choice.

New York City Answers Call For More Teachers, Establishes COVID Situation Room To Monitor Cases In Schools

Syndicated Local – CBS New York 9 hrs ago

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are signs pointing to a potential showdown between the teachers union and New York City before in-person classes start next week.

On Monday, teachers at P.S. 139 in Flatbush, Brooklyn should have been in there classrooms preparing for the first day of school. Instead, they were working outside – boycotting the building because they say it’s poorly ventilated and unsafe, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.

“Where we are is not where we should be based on the promises that were given to us, based on what we were told about the safety guidelines that would be followed for us and, quite frankly, for our students,” said music teacher Megan Jonynas.

Jonynas told Sanchez the school custodial staff is understaffed and can’t keep up with cleaning protocols.

On Friday, a teacher at the school tested positive for COVID-19, but Jonynas claimed teachers and other faculty were not contacted until two days later.

“That system needs to be a lot faster for this to be safe for everyone,” she said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says steps are being taken to address teachers’ concerns about reopening New York City public schools.

The city is establishing a COVID response situation room to monitor teachers and students who test positive, and to speed up the contact tracing timeline. Schools will now contact the situation room to report positive cases.

“It’s a number of agencies working together to make sure that whenever there is a positive test, there’s immediate answers,” said de Blasio.

Watch Hazel Sanchez’s Report:

The mayor said nearly 17,000 school-based staff have taken advantage of the city’s priority testing. Of those, 55 — or 0.32% — came back positive.

“Some people will test positive, and those folks will immediately get support. They’ll be helped to get home, to safely separate, the contact tracing will go into effect right away,” he said. “After two weeks, those professionals will come back to work and they’ll complete the entire school year.”

He encouraged all teachers and students to get the free testing and get their results within 48 hours.

The mayor also announced the deployment of 2,000 teachers to help with the shortage exacerbated by the new blended learning plan, which requires teams of in-person and remote teachers.

WATCH: Mayor, Schools Chancellor Share Latest On Reopening 

Marilyn Ramiez is a bilingual special education teacher at a high school in Washington Heights that may not have enough teachers for blended learning.

“It’s creating a lot of anxiety for the teachers because it’s a lot of unknown, a lot of uncertainty,” Ramirez told CBS2’s Jessica Layton. “I don’t think anyone has the amount of teachers that they said we should have.”

“So, we’re looking at about 100 to 120 students who will not have a teacher in front of them at this moment,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

“We’ll keep working with each school to make sure what they need is what they get and that we’re ready for opening day,” the mayor said Monday.

Some of the 2,000 are certified teachers who work within the Department of Education, while others will be substitutes.

“Folks who are ready and willing and able to serve in classrooms and bring a lot to the table,” said de Blasio. “To begin, it’s really important to make sure that we support every school. So these 2,000 additional teachers will be crucial to getting every school up and running in the right way.”

Schools: The New Normal

“We need them in our schools, because we are cut back in very challenging circumstances, and they are teachers at the end of the day,” added Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “In a pandemic, it’s all hands on deck.”

The mayor said priority will be given to schools that have the greatest staffing concerns.

“Hundreds of schools have said they just need one or two more, for example. So we’re going to be able with this 2,000 additional educators to fill a lot of those gaps,” he said. “A school that already is settled and has what they need, of course that’s great. A school that has a greater level of need — a school that needs three teachers versus a school that needs two teachers — we’re obviously going to lean into the one that needs more.”

Mark Cannizzaro, president of the principals union said his membership estimates they need 10,000 more teachers, and they don’t have the funding to hire them.

“So, it’s an absolutely impossible position to put folks in, and cooler heads are going to have to prevail before Monday,” Cannizzaro said.

Mulgrew said the city is failing to keep its end of the bargain, and the union is considering its options if schools aren’t ready to open.

“If you asked me if we were ready to open today, I would say we are not,” Mulgrew said Monday.

In a glaring example of how far apart the union and city are, the mayor was asked the same question Monday, and said schools are ready to go.

As of Monday, 55 DOE staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

Click here to find a COVID-19 test site near you.

You can get the latest news, sports, and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.

Reopen NYC: Mayor announces 55 positive COVID-19 cases among NYC school employees

NEW YORK (WABC) -- One week before the start of school, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that 55 New York City school staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result, one school closed Monday, while another previously closed one reopened.

The MORE UFT caucus of the teachers' union held a "Day of Action" of protests Monday outside two city schools.

"We're just a few days into the school reopening plan negotiated by the Mayor and UFT leadership, and it's already clear our communities are in danger. Positive cases around the city have been reported among staff, requiring colleagues to quarantine at a moment's notice. Staff returned to buildings with sinks, windows, toilets still broken, without PPE and without adequate staffing for the hybrid model," the group said in a press release.

One of the 55 positive cases was at P.S. 139 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where a teacher showed up to work with a fever last week and was sent home.

Contact tracers took three days to reach out to those who had been exposed. The teachers who came into contact with the positive case are quarantining for 14 days.

This morning, the staff decided the building had not been properly cleaned and was not safe to work in. They will continue to work outside as long as it takes until the city gets it right.

If there is one more case in a separate classroom at the school, it could be in jeopardy of closing before it officially reopens.

Outside Grace H. Dodge Career and Technical High School at 2474 Crotona Avenue in the Bronx, the staff sat outside for a short time Monday morning before returning to the classroom.

Teachers have now been back to work for one week, getting ready for the arrival of students in one week.

Eyewitness News spoke to some teachers who said the city has not alerted them of the positive cases and they have not been contacted by tracers after coming into contact with positive cases.

The mayor said 98% of the coronavirus test results are back within 48 hours.

"Some people will test positive," he said. "Those folks will immediately get support."

After two weeks, those professionals who test positive will come back to work and they will complete the school year, the mayor said. The same will happen with students.

"We have to remember that for the small percentage of people who test positive it is a very temporary reality," de Blasio said.

There is free priority testing for all students and Department of Education employees throughout the city.

There are 22 priority testing sites at H+H facilities in all five boroughs.

You can find a location near you at

There is also a DOE COVID Response Situation Room to monitor cases. It includes a direct hotline for principals, test and trace officials, and will be open six days a week with daily public reporting.

The mayor also announced that 2,000 additional educators will be in place by the first day of school. They are made up of redeployed central staff, long-term substitutes, and temporary staff.

The Principals' union released the following statement in response:

"The 2,000 additional teachers the Mayor referenced in his press conference today is woefully short of the over 10,000 teachers that we estimate New York City principals have already requested. We urge the DOE to be transparent with the public about their citywide tally of principals' requests, so we can have a realistic conversation of what is truly needed to open schools successfully next week. Since the DOE first announced the irresponsible agreement they made regarding the instructional staffing of teachers, CSA has sounded the alarm that our City must somehow contend with the staffing crisis they have created. Principals do not have enough money in their school budgets to hire who they need, and the City is also facing a fiscal crisis. As a result, superintendents have told far too many principals that their staffing requests simply will not be met. There is now a week to go before students return to schools, and the City and DOE clearly have no comprehensive plan to fully staff our schools."

RELATED: City Council members push to delay in-person learning