FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Movement of Rank and File Educators – firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite the temporary closure of a few New York City schools (slated to re-open Monday), it has become clear that it is past time to close the school system entirely.
As education workers, we know firsthand that families rely on the schools for food, child care and even laundry. We demand that the closure of schools be accompanied by efforts to distribute food to families who need it and as medical centers or care centers for children of healthcare workers, as suggested by NYC Council Member Mark Treyger.
NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson has repeatedly called for the closure of schools. Parents and parent advocates from around the city, as well as the CDC, have also called for closure. Department chairs in the city council have also called for closure. When will the mayor listen?
However, it is clear that the socially responsible course of action is to #FlattenTheCurve on the outbreak. Transmission is clearly already happening in the schools, and the sooner it stops the fewer people will die.
Mayor de Blasio seems committed to ignore the advice of experts and scientists as well as the examples of large city school systems in Boston, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, not to mention entire states (OH, MD, NM, KY). The DOE has even failed to close some schools with apparently confirmed cases.
Because of this irresponsibility, teachers will need to take action to protect the health of our students and their families by calling in sick on Monday.
As education workers concerned about the safety and education of our students we call on DOE to #closenycpublicschools immediately. We also demand:
- All temporary public shelters should be kept open during the day.
- Food should be made available to those who depend on public school meals, as is done in the summer.
- Freeze rent and extend the moratorium on evictions (sign a petition here for that demand).
- Pressure Spectrum, Verizon, Optimum, and other providers to open up free internet for public school students to ensure continuity of instruction. Pressure Google to provide free Chromebooks for students who need them.
- Encourage employers to allow all parents/guardians to stay home to care for their children. Provide real estate tax relief to enable small businesses to provide sick days.
- Establish an emergency fund to help affected businesses and their workers, regardless of immigration status.
- Clinics testing and testing should be free of charge for anyone, with or without medical insurance, and should require no paperwork indicating immigration status so that all community members can seek treatment without fear.
- Streamline emergency unemployment for workers who get laid off due to staying home
- Ensure patients and those likely to get COVID-19 have the medical checkups and treatment quickly. Those under quarantine should be taken care of medically and financially
Education workers make the schools run, and if de Blasio will not shut the school system down, we will take action instead, for the long-term health and safety of our students and their families. We are happy to work distributing food to our students or providing them with online instruction.
But if students are being called in to schools that are dangerous to them and their elderly relatives at home, thousands of educators will call in sick on Monday and #closenycpublicschools themselves.
An organizing video conference call put together around these demands for Saturday has gained hundreds of registrants from schools across the 5 boros in 12 hours.