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The DOE’s plan fails NYC students and teachers – a Teacher’s Letter to Anyone Listening

August 2, 2020 pm31 5:11 pm

I was trying to write something like this, when I stumbled across this letter. The author is a teacher in the Bronx – I got permission to repost but forgot to ask for permission to use their name (I’ll update if they give it) – jd

I read the DOE’s 32 page “plan” this morning. It is abysmal and puts NYC students and staff at risk. A few points which really must be addressed:

1. Does Mr. Carranza know that middle school and high school students can’t remain in single cohort classrooms because they don’t all take the same classes? There is no way for cohorts not to mix.

2. Given #1, there is no way for a teacher and cohort to isolate if someone is suspected or confirmed to have COVID—that teacher would be needed to teach multiple other classes to other cohorts who are in the building. There aren’t enough adults to monitor students in class if the teacher is awaiting test results or becomes ill.

3. Given that teachers will be exposed to multiple cohorts, any exposure for that teacher means that multiple cohorts will need to isolate and be tested; it’s impossible to close one classroom.

4. How is the teacher or staff member in the room supposed to remain safe when students take masks off to eat?

5. Has Mr. Carranza ever met students? They WILL put fingers under their masks; they WILL take masks off to sneeze or even just to breathe; they WILL tease each other or bully each other—or staff—by removing masks and breathing, coughing, and even spitting.

6. What happens during scanning into the building? Our building, the Theodore Roosevelt Campus, holds more than 3,000 students. Even if we divide into thirds, one thousand students will be entering each day. Even if we stagger school entry times so that only a few hundred students are entering at a time, it is impossible for those students to maintain 6’ social distancing, with full masks, and go through scanning…and certainly not in a reasonable amount of time.

7. The plan continues to rely on open windows for ventilation, without regard for temperature. That is unreasonable. it is also inadequate, as per a study released yesterday by the University of Minnesota.

8. No information about the toxicity of the chemicals in the electrostatic sprayers has been provided. That could be a very serious health risk.

9. The Janitorial Union has said that the deep cleaning is impossible to complete without much more money and many more staff. If you are unaware of the inadequacy of cleaning on a regular basis, please be advised that what we are being told will happen is humanly impossible for our janitorial staff.

10. The complete focus on safety will completely preclude effective instruction. We still have a month to focus on improving distance learning for our students. We need PD. We need time to plan. It is impossible to teach well when we never know from one day to the next where we’ll be, and it is impossible to continuously pivot between open and closed classrooms and schools as people become ill. The students will suffer both emotionally and academically far more than if we simply commit to teaching remotely and put all energy and training into doing that as well as humanly possible.

There is much more, but this short list is more than enough to reject the DOE’s failing plan to reopen NYC school buildings.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Samuel Noel permalink
    August 4, 2020 am31 7:27 am 7:27 am

    Excellent points. Unless there’s some hidden genius that has all of this figured out, this will all unravel in due time. Better to improve on what we can do than to learn what we can’t the hard way!

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