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Coronavirus and the Campaign to Close Schools – note to members

March 14, 2020 am31 10:31 am

Some Updates:


this if for UFT members at the HS of American Studies at Lehman College. If you are not a UFT member at HSAS, I am sharing this with you 1) for your information 2) so you can take some of the action steps 3) so you can share this with others. This is especially true if you are a teacher in another school.


Information is in regular type. I’ve bolded action steps.


Mulgrew made a public statement urging de Blasio to close the schools.

(full text at bottom)


NYSUT made a statement urging Cuomo to close all schools in counties with confirmed cases.

(full text at bottom)


City Councilman Mark Treyger (former UFT member, think he was a guidance counselor in Brooklyn) has proposed keeping a small number of schools open in each borough as social service centers (A “summer school” model). This is the solution that the City needs, and addresses the real concerns that some people had about school closures. This matches what is being done in other locations where schools are closing (LA, Cleveland, towns in Connecticut)

(full text at bottom)


There is a petition to Cuomo to close schools.  Please sign. It takes a few seconds.


There is a UFT petition to de Blasio to close schools. Please sign. It takes a few seconds.


The UFT urges us to call 311. That’s a pretty quick call.


The UFT urges us to tweet @NYCMayor. I don’t know who has a Twitter account, but if you do…


I tweeted and facebook-shared our petition. It was retweeted by a reporter for NY1, and by a reporter from Chalkbeat. A teacher from another school sent it to the NY Times. I don’t expect these news outlets to report on us, but we add backdrop to the ongoing narrative. Bronx Collaborative HS (in Clinton) circulated the petition (school name changed, the rest the same), everyone signed, and they tweeted it. (full text, typos corrected, at bottom)


I wrote to my State Senator (Jamaal Bailey – Nancy Garay is an aide) and to my State Assemblyperson (Nathalia Fernandez, Forhad Rahman is her chief of staff) urging them to lean on de Blasio and Carranza. Letters to representatives are a pain, but if you are at home, with time….



Our Petition

To:       Mayor Bill de Blasio

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew

We, the undersigned faculty and staff from the High School of American Studies at Lehman College urge you to close New York City public schools as quickly as possible.

Coronavirus is a pandemic. The 195 confirmed cases in New York City – and over 1000 are projected for next week –these are the tip of the iceberg –  the actual number is clearly much higher. Large gatherings are being stopped.

But our schools gather hundreds and thousands of children and adults each day. The twice-daily commute involves a million children and over one hundred thousand adults. Each day we hear of another NYC public school reporting a case – but the response – the closure of that school alone – is inadequate.

Schools in less densely populated areas are taking the appropriate step – closure. Districts in Nassau, Westchester, Rockland, all of Bergen County, the state of Maryland. The risk in densely populated New York City is clearly greater.

Schools provide breakfasts and lunches to many kids. The mayor needs to find a way to continue providing meals while the schools are closed.

For the safety of our students, for our safety, for the safety of all residents, commuters and visitors to New York City, our public schools must be closed as quickly as possible.


Union calls for school closures in counties affected by coronavirus

As school districts grapple with the effects of coronavirus statewide, NYSUT on Friday called for the closure of schools in counties with confirmed cases of COVID-19. The union also urged local officials to ensure the needs of students, staff and families are fairly and adequately met in the event of a school closure.

“We all have a role to play in helping to stem the spread of coronavirus and in ensuring that every child is fully supported in the event of school closures,” President Andy Pallotta said. “It’s critical that school administrators and educators are in constant communication about the right ways to keep the school community safe and healthy as we carry out our mission: educating New York’s children.”

NYSUT has published an online coronavirus toolkit that includes guidance from the state health and education departments, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and its AFT and NEA national affiliates.


“We recommend that New York City follow the example of affected jurisdictions around the region, the nation and even the world and close our public schools.

We don’t suggest this lightly. We understand the immense disruption this will create for our families. But right now more than a million students and staff crisscross the city every day on their way to schools, putting themselves and others at risk of exposure and increasing the likelihood of bringing exposure into their homes and communities.

Many local area schools, religious and public, have already closed, as have schools in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school system, as well as the District of Columbia, and the entire states of Michigan, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Oregon. The schools of entire countries have been closed to help contain the spread of the virus.

We must find ways to keep our children safe and to see that they are fed. We must do all we can to help ensure that our students can continue to learn. But we have reached the point where continuing to keep our classrooms open poses a greater lasting threat than the disruption that will result from school closings.

I have met with the Mayor and outlined our reasons for urging a shutdown. He believes the schools should stay open, though he has agreed to a number of additional safeguards and accommodations. In the end, we have decided to respectfully disagree.”


NYC Council member proposes a ‘summer school’ approach to coronavirus school closures



MAR 12, 2020  5:56 PM

Closing most public schools and using the rest to serve at-risk students and families who rely on them to meet basic health needs would be a good way for the Education Department to handle the coronavirus crisis, the chairman of City Council’s Education Committee said Thursday.

Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) wrote on Twitter that a “summer school” approach “could work in terms of a limited system shutdown while servicing the most vulnerable.”

Mark Treyger@MarkTreyger718

I’ve shared with DOE a temporary contingency plan that I believe could work in terms of a limited system shutdown while servicing the most vulnerable. I’m awaiting a response.

Shutting down schools while leaving a few school buildings open in each district would help the city provide essential services for students who need them, Treyger said.

Those services could include medical care for students with severe disabilities, food for families who rely on school meals, and child care for families who have no other option, including parents who are health care workers and are desperately needed at work.

“We should heed the warnings from health experts to create social distancing,” Treyger told the Daily News. “But at the same time we in New York City experience great inequality.”

“While attempting to address this public health emergency, you don’t want to create five more [emergencies],” he said.

Treyger said clustering students in a few schools instead of keeping all schools open for a small number of students and staff would help the city consolidate services and ensure all the open schools are equipped to meet students’ and parents’ needs.

Mayor de Blasio reiterated Thursday that the city “want[s] our schools to remain open. We intend for our schools to remain open.”

School officials announced Thursday that a Bronx student reported a positive test for the coronavirus, triggering the first daylong shutdown of two city public schools. Schools are required to close for at least 24 hours after a confirmed case, according to state guidance.

Education Department contingency plans include remote learning programs and free meals for students who need them, said department spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon.

“We know the closure of a school can cause disruption and anxiety for parents, students and staff, and it’s a last resort,” O’Hanlon said.



Also – City Council Speaker Corey Johnson:

NEW YORK – “It is time to close our public schools for the safety and wellbeing of the students, teachers, and staff.

This is not an easy decision, but we must take aggressive measures to stop the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19. Teaching and learning cannot take place under these circumstances.

The City must immediately come up with a plan that includes childcare relief for families who need it so that our essential workers, especially healthcare workers, can continue with their duties. We must also ensure meals and medical care are provided for students who rely on schools for these crucial services.

I have repeatedly said it is not time to panic. But it is time to act. We must take bold, decisive measures to do everything we can to limit the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19.

This pandemic presents an enormous challenge for us as a city. But I have complete confidence in our ability to get through this together. The decisions we make will be difficult ones, but we must move forward with the common good in mind. We must limit the spread of this virus while at the same time working to protect our most vulnerable friends, family, and neighbors.

In times of trouble New Yorkers never fail to come together. By doing so, we rise to every occasion. I have no doubt that we will weather this crisis as we have past crises. And in the end we will be stronger. This is the New York way.”


One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 14, 2020 pm31 2:18 pm 2:18 pm

    Mayor Bill de Blasio I’ve decided to rate you on the same scale teachers are rated on.

    Domain 1: planning and preparation
    You say that you have been preparing since January, but there are no systems in place for educating, feeding or keeping students safe? There are no measures put in place for teachers safety. You clearly have not designed coherent instruction for the teachers to follow in these trying times. Students are not receiving quality instruction when more than half are absent (both staff and students).

    Domain 1: INEFFECTIVE

    Domain 2: RESPECT! LOL you have shown you have no respect for professionals, staff members, students, parents. There is no respect on either side at this point. As far as establishing a culture for learning: nope. This is a culture of fear and panic. Students cannot learn under these conditions. We are sitting ducks.

    Domain 2: INEFFECTIVE

    Domain 3: Instruction: instead of putting plans in place for remote learning. Instead of providing teachers with the tools they would need to successfully teach from a safe environment and have students learn in a safe environment, students aren’t receiving quality education. New content can not be delivered to less than half a classroom. New content is not being delivered through substitute teachers who don’t have a comprehensive knowledge of the curriculum. Students are not learning as they should be.

    Domain 3: INEFFECTIVE

    Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities. This made me LOL. As mayor, your professional responsibility is to ensure the safety of the 1.1 million students in our systems as well as the teachers and staff in our school system. You have shown that your professional responsibilities are only toward some and not others. You have proven that teachers DO NOT MATTER.

    Domain 4: INEFFECTIVE
    Saturday, March 14, 2020 11:00:00 AM

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