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Rating the NYC Dept of Ed’s Reopening Plan (safety)

July 11, 2020 am31 12:39 am

Thursday Carranza released the plan. I did a quick survey of the school scheduling part (not good), but need to return to that in depth. But today I want to take a first look at safety.

There are now three documents to look at. There’s the June 9 doe-planning-overview-for-principal-meetings Powerpoint-is-not-a-Plan powerpoint, the July 2 school-buildings-reopening_principal-meeting_07022020 27-pages-of-very-little presentation to principals and the July 8 School-Buildings-Reopening_Principal-Meeting_07082020 school reopening powerpoint.

And, we might also consider Mulgrew’s last letter part of the DoE’s official position. I hate writing that, but let’s include at least this part of what he wrote about safety to be official DoE policy:

Strong safety protocols must be in place in all schools. Today, the city released more details about its safety plans:
  • Schools will require physical distancing and face coverings for all staff and students and will increase access to hand washing and sanitizer. Every classroom will have hand sanitizer and disinfectant.
  • Physical spaces will be configured to ensure appropriate distances.
  • Lunch will be held in classrooms or require assigned seating.
  • Each school or campus will have an identified isolation room in the event someone becomes ill.
  • Each building will be deep cleaned on a nightly basis with electrostatic sprayers that dispense disinfectant so that it adheres to surfaces without the need to physically touch them.
  • School HVACs for ventilation are being improved.

So, what to make of the safety aspects?

Temperature testing. “Guidance on symptom checks continue to evolve.”

Entry to school. They leave it up to each school to determine: “We will be asking for feedback from principals and monitoring best practices for entry/exit protocols.”

Passing. For schools that have passing, they recommend staggering times. One-way hallways and stairwells (we only have one hallway..)

Hand-washing. There’s vague stuff about increasing access and opportunities to wash hands or use sanitizer. But, as far as I can tell, no plan.

PPE supply (mostly this means masks). The DoE says that schools won’t have to buy them, DoE central will supply them. Same with cleaning supplies. But I know schools were promised gloves and cleaning supplies in  March, that did not arrive. The stockpiles in each school must be large enough to replace students’ masks as they lose, forget, or destroy them. Saying that they will take care of it is not enough, without strong protocols in place for when the DoE fails to meet its responsibility.

PPE (policy). This was worrying. The chancellor seems to be saying that kids should be taught to wear masks, but not required to wear them.

Cleaning. There are promises about regular cleaning, without any specifics. They promise that central will supply cleaning supplies.

Social distancing. The DoE “strongly recommends” 6 foot distancing. Why not require? The choice of wording is deliberate. The DoE will not require 6 foot distancing.

Classroom capacity. Based on what I just saw, this is scary. Instead of using 65 square feet per person as the maximum density, the DoE is using it as the minimum. Forget, for the moment, that they have over-reported the size of every single room in my school, even using their numbers, they are recommending between 45 and 65 sq ft per person. They are breaking their own socially distanced capacity guidelines before any planning has started.

In case of a case…. There is NOTHING. In March the DoE massively violated protocols by not shutting schools where cases occurred, not notifying staff, not notifying students and families. Omitting this is absolutely unacceptable.

Protocols?  Nothing. Everything, at least for now, is left up to the school.  The UFT says “Strong safety protocols must be in place in all schools.” But there is no sign of how to achieve that, or how it will be monitored.

Enforcement. Nothing. But with no enforcement mechanism our members’ safety will be dependent on how well their principal plans. And knowing some of the principals in this system, that is unacceptable.

Conclusion? Right now, given what the DoE says about not following social distancing guidelines, what they have already done as far as building capacity to violate those guidelines, the soft language on masks, the lack of a policy in case of an outbreak, the lack of any protocols, and the lack of any enforcement mechanism, I do not believe the UFT/DOE have offered teachers the necessary safety guarantees to move ahead.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Samuel Noel permalink
    July 11, 2020 am31 5:59 am 5:59 am

    Excellent analysis. My principal is asking teachers what their plans are for September. How can anyone plan anything when there is no real plan coming from the top. My building has no central air conditioning and no real air flow under normal conditions. Social distancing will be a real challenge with small irregular classrooms and narrow hallways. We don’t even have a teachers’ lounge or work area; we prep in occupied classrooms. Might be time to file for retirement while I’m alive and healthy to enjoy it.

    • July 11, 2020 am31 7:33 am 7:33 am

      What building are you now in?

      And I thought you’d already retired! Man, don’t you have the years yet? I remember getting into it with you on Edwize. Edwize retired. Chaz is gone. Maybe it’s time?

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