City Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend) today blasted the de Blasio Administration‘s new plan released this weekend to reopen schools again during the COVID pandemic.
The administration had been under fire since they decided to reclose schools las week while keeping some in-door and outdoor dining open.
De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza new plan announced yesterday, schools will reopen Monday, Dec. 7 for in-person instruction with more rigorous testing protocols in place. Students in 3-K and Pre-K programs, as well as those in grade k through grade 5 who have opted for in-person learning, will return to school buildings. Schools serving students with the most significant disabilities, known as District 75, will return on December 10, while middle and high schools will remain remote for the time being.
One of the main issues Treyger takes with the new plan is only allowing students who have already opted- into blended learning to return to school and he feels that option should pertain to all students.
“That arbitrary decision disproportionately impacts the same communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” he said.
Treyger remains concerned about the Mayor neglecting to outline a plan to enhance remote learning for those families who choose to remain in that system, – a given since not everyone can come back to in-person learning in the current plans.
“It is not unreasonable to have real-time support to help improve the remote learning experience,” Treyger said, sharing a story of a woman who had been told to call 311 after her son had been having difficulties with his online remote learning. “That’s not a plan that is negligence.”
While the three percent positivity threshold to close NYC schools have been abandoned for elementary school students, as the city’s seven-day average test positivity rate on Sunday reached 3.9 percent, Brooklyn Borough President Adams sees a problem with the new reopening plan.
“I am glad the mayor is listening to the overwhelming number of parents and education advocates who believe it’s the safe, smart thing to do for our children’s future. Now we must also make in-person education an option for the older students who are being left behind by the failed implementation of remote learning,” said Adams.
For the 190,000, students returning to a 5 day-in-person routine, however, that means encountering doubled down COVID-19 protocols, including every child having a signed COVID-19 testing consent form as they make their way into the school building on Monday.
The city’s Department of Education (DOE) alongside the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has partnered with laboratories to come to NYC schools at least once a month to test the students and staff for COVID-19 infection.
“Reopening our buildings is paramount to our city’s recovery from COVID-19,” said de Blasio. “That’s why we are doubling down on the safety and health measures that work to make in-person learning a reality for so many of our students.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, usually in opposition to de Blasio with how to respond to the pandemic, said that he thinks this is the right decision.
“We do have new facts and new information on schools,” said Cuomo. “It’s literally safer for a child and the teacher to be in the school than in the community.”