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The NYC Dept of Education Intends to Violate 65 Sq Ft Social Distancing Guideline

July 12, 2020 pm31 10:16 pm

Strong language? No. The Department of Education intends to violate social distancing guidelines.

+ They made 6 foot social distancing a recommendation, not a requirement. Here’s the link. And here’s a screenshot:


+ They sent out revised capacity estimates with exaggerated room sizes. They got every single room in my school wrong. I’ve heard similar things from across the city.

+ They are treating 65 sq ft per person as the maximum allowable space. They should treat it as the minimum. What’s that mean?

Let’s look at where I teach. They think Room 133 in my school is 728 sq ft. And so 728 divided by 65 is 11. 2. So the capacity they claim is 11, right Nope. They claim the capacity is 11 – 15. They are telling my principal to go ahead and put 15 bodies in there.

Let’s see: 728 divided by 11 = 66.2 sq feet per person. Meets the 65 square foot guideline. 728 divided by 15 = 48.5.  This does not come close to meeting the 65 square foot per person guideline.

Every room in my building – every room – they have set a lower limit between 45 and 50 square feet per person. As I am talking to chapter leaders and programmers (schedulers) in other schools, it appears that they have established a 45 to 50 square foot per person minimum throughout the city. This is not a mistake. This is intent.

+ Hold on, it’s actually a little worse than that. The room where I usually teach, Room 133, when I teach freshmen we measure it as an exercise (easy, 1 ft sq floor tiles). It’s been three years since I taught freshmen, but I think we get 23′ x 25′. Maybe it needs some fractions added?  That’s 575 sq ft. Say that I need some rounding up – call it 24′ x 26′ – that’s 624 sq ft, not the 728 sq ft they report. 624 divided by 11 is 56.7 sq ft/person. 624 divided by 15 is 41.5 sq ft/person. The DoE actually wants me to be in a room with 41 – 57 sq ft/person. Not ok.

  • Social distancing is recommended, not guaranteed
  • They are pretending rooms are larger than they are.
  • They are ignoring the 65 sq ft/person guideline and using a 45 sq ft/person guideline instead.

It is clear to me, and probably to anyone reading, the New York City Department of Education intends to place students and teachers in spaces that violate social distancing guidelines.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Lois. E. Martin permalink
    July 13, 2020 pm31 8:21 pm 8:21 pm

    If New York is where they are now because of mandatory Social Distancing, why tempt fate and recommend for schools instead of making it a mandate?

    • July 14, 2020 am31 9:54 am 9:54 am

      I don’t have an answer. I think it is a mistake.

  2. Ann Marie permalink
    July 14, 2020 pm31 12:40 pm 12:40 pm

    I think anyone who does not know the difference between a “recommendation” and a “rule”, perhaps they need to go back to school. We are living in a world where every one wants to be dictated to like a child from the authority figure of their choice instead of being able to think and take responsibility for themselves. Stop being hysterical!!! For all the teachers and students who do not want to go back to school, stay home. Stay home forever!! No one is forcing you to leave your home. Find another job or another way to educate your kids. No one is being forced to leave their homes if they don’t want to. But don’t you dare tell me or my kids to stay home too. We do not want to. I want my kids back to school and they want to go back to school. These people who don’t are putting their lives on hold waiting for what exactly and think we should all do that too. Life goes on. Even with almost 140,000 Americans dead. Life still goes on and will continue to go on no matter how many more people die. Accept it.

    • July 14, 2020 pm31 3:36 pm 3:36 pm

      I hate remote teaching – it’s the worst. I love teaching, but this spring was awful. It was exhausting. Grading took forever. The best part of teaching is the kids, and they were not really in front of me. Everyone learned less than if we’d been in school. If we had a way to go back in safely, I’d be first.

      But I want everyone, you, your kids, me, my students, my colleagues – to be safe. And we just cannot do that with the chaotic system the Mayor has ordered. It won’t work. And it will compromise everyone’s safety.

      I wish that there were a better answer. But there is not.

      In the meantime, you should not have to stay home – though there are requirements about masks, social distancing, etc. And for your kids, City Councilman Mark Treyger is fighting mightily that there are places for them to go during the day – and I fully support his efforts.

  3. Gary permalink
    July 14, 2020 pm31 3:35 pm 3:35 pm

    That square footage also includes the footprint of the built in closets, counters, bookshelves, which generally protrude out about 1.5 feet around three walls.

    • July 14, 2020 pm31 3:37 pm 3:37 pm

      Gary, our school has broad window sills – I have a feeling the sills were counted in our floor space – which they plainly should not be

  4. Anonymous permalink
    July 14, 2020 pm31 5:43 pm 5:43 pm

    students are in danger as well as teachers and staffs. Fall supposedly bring back virus. Why open school? First see how the fall goes then in January 2021 reopens schools

  5. September 21, 2020 pm30 10:19 pm 10:19 pm

    I was having such a hard time figuring out why there was a huge discrepancy between the room capacity that I calculated myself and the one from the Doe. I found your page and suddenly all of the math clicked. This is disgusting. Why is no one else blowing the whistle on this?? It needs to be a min of 65 sf per person. How do we get this out to everyone???

  6. August 14, 2021 pm31 2:38 pm 2:38 pm

    So JD2718- my first thought was- why hasn’t the POST or Daily News or even the Times picked up on this clear violation? Because it has nothing to do with the teachers- they only chime in when they can accuse us of not wanting to go back to work.


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