Councilmembers want school year delayed

August 22, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Councilmembers want school year delayed
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With uncertainty remaining about the safety of reopening schools in September, City Council Education Chair Mark Treyger and 30 other councilmembers wrote a letter asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to delay in-person instruction.

“School starts in a matter of weeks, and yet school communities have not received answers to pertinent questions about reopening,” they wrote. “To date, the DOE has yet to provide an operational plan with guidelines to safely reopen the largest public school system in the nation serving 1.1 million students and their families.”

The letter voiced concerns about schools not having full-time nurses or enough PPE, custodians not being given appropriate cleaning materials, and students not receiving the proper tools and technology for remote learning.

“Currently, there is not enough information being provided,” said the letter. “We’ve heard anecdotally that when parents call principals to ask who will be teaching their child in September, principals don’t have that information. Many principals haven’t been given guidance on how to assign staff for remote learning or in-person instruction — and principals don’t know how they will cover for positions of teachers granted medical accommodations.”

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Mark Treyger’s office

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca attended a safe school rally at Borough Hall on Thursday and said there are dangers in reopening too early, especially in Sunset Park, which has experienced an increase in COVID cases.

“I stood in solidarity with our principals, teachers, school support staff, parents, and students who are against the unsafe reopening plan put forward by the Mayor,” he said.

“We just are not ready,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan. “When we talk about our schools, we’re not just talking about teachers, students, and their parents – we’re talking about the entire school community. And right now we’ve got a serious crisis of confidence.”

On Thursday, De Blasio and School Chancellor Richard Carranza announced the “Back to School Pledge,” which outlines the city’s safety and health commitments to students, parents and the school community prior to the start of the school year.

“With our record-low infection rate, New York City is the safest major city in America,” said de Blasio. “Our plan to reopen our schools is the most rigorous in the country, and I want parents to know that we are taking absolutely every precaution to keep their children healthy and safe.

“We are going to make sure these schools are safe and ready. And if we don’t think they’re safe and ready, they won’t be open. But right now, look what you see. Tremendous preparation and the health situation in the city continues to get better because of your hard work. So we’re going to move forward together on the countdown to the opening of our schools.”

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