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NYCDoE did not protect us in March – How can we trust them in September?

May 12, 2020 pm31 12:45 pm

In March the NYC Department of Education violated protocols by not shutting schools with COVID-19 and cleaning them. They stifled reporting. They hid what was going on.

We knew that the NYC Department of Education unconscionably delayed closing schools – that was really bill de blasio. That’s not what I am writing about. That’s a policy disagreement (they were wrong).

I am writing about teachers reporting that they had confirmed COVID-19, and the DoE making up rules so they could pretend that the case was not properly confirmed, and keeping the schools open. They broke their own rules. And while an ultimate investigation might serve up a fall guy, that’s not what I care about right now. No, I care about September.

Because in September it is possible that our schools will, in one form or another, reopen. In September there will be rules in place to keep us safe. But how do we trust the DoE, who just two months ago broke rules and put lives at risk?

It’s not just here. The NEA just shared out this article from Texas:  what do we do if they tell us to go in, but we are not safe?

Now, there is a UFT Delegate Assembly tomorrow. It is virtual, which will be weird. I don’t know if I would get called on if it were a live DA. But I am going to try.

I think, to help keep us safe, the Department of Education should have to show up, a real person – at a school where the staff/chapter think they are at risk. No more burying safety reports. No remote bureaucrat sending us in to get sick. Come in, explain that it is safe. We can use the UFT to monitor that they are not violating the rules.

Here’s what I submitted (to be added to next month’s agenda)


Submitted for the June Agenda


Safety Enforcement Mechanism for COVID in Our Buildings

Whereas the COVID-19 Crisis reached New York City this winter; and

Whereas in the first half of March of this year the NYC Department of Education resisted calls to close our buildings; and

Whereas guidelines in place required certain schools to be closed for a day and disinfected; and

Whereas the Department of Education appears not to have closed certain schools for a day and disinfected them when required to; and

Whereas the United Federation of Teachers is currently considering measures to ensure the safety of our members, other adults, and students when school buildings reopen, conceivably in September; and

Whereas the United Federation of Teacher’s proud history includes keeping members out of hazardous conditions, famously during the asbestos crisis;

Therefore be it resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will make it a priority in negotiations with the NYC Department of Education that no one be required to enter a building when there is question about their safety; and be it further

Resolved that United Federation of Teachers chapter-based safety committees and consultation committees will be involved in all decisions to open and close those respective chapters; and be it further

Resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will make it a priority in negotiations with the NYC Department of Education that if the Department of Education believes a building to be safe, when members do not, that they be compelled to send a representative from outside the building to that building, and that representative give presentations in the building to staff, explaining how the DoE determined it was safe to enter the building, and that a UFT representative from outside the school will stay with the DoE rep to monitor their activity and ensure compliance; and be it further

Resolved that United Federation of Teachers will continue to insist on measures to keep our members, other adults, and students safe.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    May 12, 2020 pm31 1:58 pm 1:58 pm

    Well put! We really cannot trust the doe one bit. The mayor and chancellor should have criminal charges filed against them. They covered so much up and put people at risk. Even if it’s a few people, it’s a few people too many. We are teachers. We are not essential workers and should not be put into dangerous spots for no reason.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    May 12, 2020 pm31 2:50 pm 2:50 pm

    I agree with everything you’ve written. I would add the UFT, with the DOE, as an entity that cannot be trusted. I haven’t heard any explanation for why they didn’t stop, strongly urge or warn members not to enter schools, that were closed to students, for a three day meaningless training. I no longer trust the UFT to do the right thing. I am strongly considering withholding dues as I’m not compelled to support an organization that sat silently, while those they purport to protect, were put in mortal danger.

    • May 12, 2020 pm31 2:54 pm 2:54 pm

      I’ll never be with you there. The only organization that has the potential to defend us – I want them to do it better.

      Breaking the union will make the job worse for all of us.

      Can you imagine the DoE handling this WORSE? I can. Take the UFT out of the mix.

      • Anonymous permalink
        May 12, 2020 pm31 8:05 pm 8:05 pm

        Handling it worse than death? This isn’t about dues for me – it was for the UFT.

    • Mike permalink
      May 12, 2020 pm31 4:46 pm 4:46 pm

      The only thing worse than a bad union is no union at all.

      Sadly, the doe would be even more vindictive without a union. Look what happens to charter school teachers with their work hours and expectations. Oh, wait, they can be let go at any point also.

      I feel mulgrew isn’t great, but weingarten was worse. She negotiated the 2005 contract.

      This situation sucks, but the doe would be worse without the union.


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