As educators, parents and students, we know that remote learning is a poor substitute for in person learning. We know how desperately working caregivers need childcare. And we know how important it is to get children back to in-person learning.
But the unfortunate reality is that it will not be safe to go back into classrooms this fall for teachers, staff, students, their families or our communities. The science indicates that Coronavirus is airborne indoors, especially in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces like classrooms. And it is nowhere near being contained. Thanks to cruelty driven leadership at the federal level, nearly 140,000 Americans have died and COVID cases are rising across the country, all while corporations are getting bailouts. Here in New York City, more than 20,000 people have died from COVID– mostly Black and Latinx New Yorkers. Returning to school buildings before it is safe to do so will put these same communities at even greater risk of dying prematurely.
Meanwhile, after decades of systematic underfunding, New York City schools do not have the personnel or material resources to reopen buildings safely in accordance with CDC guidelines. Our sinks are still broken, our class sizes are too large, our rooms are still poorly ventilated, we still don’t have full-time counselors and nurses in every building and we have seen no evidence that contact tracing and testing for school communities will be adequate. Forcing school buildings to reopen before we have the resources we need will put staff in the untenable position of having to enforce public health directives without resources or an expectation of them actually working, and could further put our Black and Brown students at risk of being criminalized and/or traumatized by schools.
Finally, the DOE’s current reopening plan has utterly failed to take into account the needs of and feedback from stakeholders. One multiple choice, poorly advertised survey just won’t cut it. The city and the UFT had five months to hold meetings with staff, students and families to collect creative ideas, concerns and feedback. But they did nothing.
- No return to in-person school until it’s safe: We need no new cases for 14 days, all health and safety measures implemented including consistent rapid testing, contact tracing, safe public transit and community input!
- Substantial and continuous financial relief from the city, state and federal government for working parents, guardians and all workers — inclusive of undocumented immigrants
- That our public schools are adequately funded according to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity formula and given additional COVID aid so that every school has the staff and resources it needs to support students during learning in and outside of school buildings
- Nothing about us without us: That parents, students and school staff are fully empowered and included in planning for eventual school reopening and equitable remote learning that includes opportunities for outdoor education, in-person instruction and therapeutic service delivery for prioritized student populations
Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE)
Parents Supporting Parents NY
Justice Center en El Barrio
1Freedom For All
Young People of Color Incorporated
Black Lives Matter at NYC Schools
Dynamic therapy Intervention