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“Mr. Mulgrew, please walk this back” – letter from a teacher

August 6, 2020 pm31 11:21 pm
Same guest teacher as yesterday and Monday, she had been directing her words mostly at the Governor and Mayor, but today, after Mulgrew boasted about negotiating some horrible schedule concessions, well, she wrote to him:

Dear Mr. Mulgrew,

Today is my birthday. My 53rd. I woke with the confidence that you are fighting for our safety and for our quality of life as NYC teachers. I believed you when you said in our town hall a few weeks ago that because remote and in-person teachers must be in “lockstep”, we would need extra co-planning time and that you were advocating for four periods of instruction and then to send the kids home, giving teachers the rest of the day for co-planning. If there must be mask-to-mask teaching, that made some sense. But today I woke up to this letter from you and all I can feel is bereft; abandoned; hopeless.

For the four months we were teaching remotely, I spent close to an hour a day contacting families and several hours a day tracking down students who for myriad reasons were not attending my office hours or synchronized classes. Now I have 20 minutes. I will have 30 minutes of “prep” to co-plan with colleagues in the morning. 30 minutes is barely enough to set an agenda, as you may recall. It certainly is not enough to plan in “lockstep”. I will be expected to teach straight through the day, and if I am an art teacher or something similar, I am expected to teach in a classroom full of kids without masks who are focused on their lunches and their friends. If I am not one of the unlucky teachers trying to instruct while kids eat, then I get to walk back into a room where aerosols are hanging in the air, as per the University of Minnesota research. Then I get to bring home all of the droplets I have walked through and breathed through my NOT N-95 MASK, risking everyone in my household, and use my other 30 minutes of prep (plus countless hours) to actually plan, grade, co-plan, and prepare.

Even in New York, adults can’t wear masks consistently. We know kids won’t. But now we’re giving them time without masks. Don’t you see how that will undermine everything else? If they can have masks off while eating while we teach, then there is zero reason for them to wear masks the rest of the time when we teach.

In short, my teaching day is longer, my preps are shorter, and I AM NOT SAFE. No day is safe when there is time spent with people who are not wearing masks. It’s that simple.

Please, this is not acceptable. Not even close. Please walk this back. Save our lives and those of our families and our students’ families.


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