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Safety First

July 16, 2020 pm31 6:39 pm

That’s the message! We hear it a lot. I’ve written it. Mulgrew’s said it. It’s a sentiment many of us share. But me saying it or Mulgrew writing it or you thinking it – none of that makes it true.

Me writing “Safety First!”, shouting “Safety First!”, repeating “Safety First! Safety First! Safety First!” doesn’t make it true.

I have been saying it a lot. I started mid-June, when the DoE first revealed their plan-that-was-not-really-a-plan. I didn’t direct it at the DoE, I directed it, “Safety First!” at the union president, who rah-rah’ed a response to the DoE, leaving safety an afterthought. Here’s the DoE June 8 draft non-plan. And here’s Mulgrew’s very weak response of June 11 (preceded by my suggestion to his communication people, how to write for Mulgrew in the future. Safety First!). After that he put out a better e-mail, and he was quite good in the June 17 Delegate Assembly and at the June 18 Virtual Town Hall.

“Safety First!” only counts if you say it when it counts. I  have a “right on!” “Safety first” message from Mulgrew on July 2, before the DoE released its latest non-safety-oriented non-plan.

School buildings should only reopen in the fall — even on a limited basis — if the safety of students, staff and families is assured.

Rah-rah! Our union president has it right! But, um, not so fast. Fast forward six days. The DoE’s actual safety-compromising, vague, non-plan was issued the morning of July 8. That afternoon Mulgrew wrote again:

We believe a blended learning model, with students in class on some days and remote on others, balances our safety concerns with the need to bring students back.

Rah what? What happened to the tough “Safety First!” Mulgrew? Apparently “Safety First!” Mulgrew was back on the radio, this week. We shouldn’t need to listen to the story to know which one will show up.

Mulgrew writing “Safety First!” on Monday and Wednesday, but forgetting “Safety First!” on Tuesday and Thursday doesn’t count.

But that’s not our biggest problem. I’m pissed that during the biggest test of the UFT since I’ve been a member they keep misplacing their backbone. But the policy itself, the non-plan, that belongs to the DoE.

I’ve heard that the UFT and CSA and outside groups were involved with formulating the policy. Perhaps. But the plan has Richard Carranza’s name on it. It belongs to the NYC Department of Education. And the Carranza plan puts safety last. Literally.

Schools are supposed to be formulating academic programs and schedules and policies. Schools are supposed to be communicating to families about schedules. Schools are supposed to submit preliminary plans to the Department of Education next week. Schedules. Schedules, schedules, schedules.

What’s missing? Safety. The New York City Department of Education has literally put safety last.

  • Wash stations and hand sanitizer stations? They are working on them (except nothing is happening in the school, so no idea what that means)
  • Upgrades to ventilation? They are working on them (except nothing is happening in the school, so no idea what that means)
  • Delivery of PPE to the schools? They guarantee it. Just like in March?
  • New cleaning protocols? They promise them. In September. And what will they be? tbd
  • Who is sitting with kids at lunch in the room? tbd
  • Where are we finding space for quarantine rooms? tbd
  • Are we doing temperature checks? tbd
  • What is the minimum socially distanced spacing? tbd (although the DoE may appears to be already cheating on that)
  • Are students or teachers being tested before school starts? tbd
  • What’s the procedure if there is a positive COVID-19 case in a school? tbd
  • What’s the procedure if a child chooses not to wear a mask? tbd

Go ahead, they say, get school ready. Trust us. We will get to those, um, what are they?  Health issues. Safety things. Promise. We will take care of it in August. Or the first week in September. Promise.

I can be angry at my union for mixed messages (and I am FURIOUS. They must do MUCH better). But make no mistake:

The New York City Department of Education is not putting safety first. It is putting it last

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Samuel Noel permalink
    July 17, 2020 am31 7:26 am 7:26 am

    TBD is not a plan. Going back to my mice and roach infested classroom with no air conditioning, no airflow, 2 small windows that only partially open to a long-term construction project during a pandemic is not what I signed up for.

    • July 18, 2020 am31 10:27 am 10:27 am

      If they can keep buildings clean during normal times…
      They need to be stopped.

  2. cklaus permalink
    July 17, 2020 pm31 11:54 pm 11:54 pm

    Thanks I hope you don’t mind I credited you and posted this to my Chgo Teachers Union FB page. Lightfoot just trotted out the same BS to us today.

  3. Queenz Native permalink
    July 18, 2020 am31 2:08 am 2:08 am

    Who is taking the temperatures at the door?
    Who is sitting with the sick kid in the “Quarantine”room?
    Who is dealing with the kid who refuses to wear a mask or to stay socially distant or coughs on someone?
    What happened when the parent does not pick up kid who is non compliant: not wearing a mask or not going to class or refusing to leave the building at end of scheduled day?
    what happened when nurse is out or leaves or has lunch?
    After kids swipe in, where do they stay if they are earlier if Cafeteria is not allowed?
    What happens if a teacher comes to school sick, coughing on everyone – happened last year – person got the whole department sick.
    Every school day there is a lack or soap and toilet paper, who should be contacted when custodian tells staff there is no more?
    What about the evaluation system? Danielson is dead, what is next?
    THe only option that makes sense is Remote.


  1. NYC Safety Plan for Schools: Needed, Doesn’t Exist | JD2718

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