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Please be careful, NYC elementary school teachers

September 29, 2020 am30 12:41 am

This is not your fault. This was not your decision.

Odds are, no one asked you, the person who knows the job best, what you thought. What you think.

The planning for today, Tuesday September 29, the first day of elementary school in NYC, that planning has been dumped on principals. Some principals are smart and clever. But no principal has been trained in organizing a school to operate.

I’m not there, and I’m excited and nervous for the first day. I am not the only high school teacher who is terrified of those little kids – I do not know how you do it.

I hope the little ones are used to seeing adults in masks by now. I know first day meltdowns occur, and hope you get lucky and have none. But thinking about that makes me tens.

I’m more concerned by procedures – in those schools where the principal was not necessarily so great at the planning details. How smooth is the entry? Is social distancing more or less maintained? Have they figured out what to do with kids who come on the wrong day? Or has your school been absolutely excellent at making sure that parents only come on the right day? Is there a good procedure for moving kids to your room? I guess double lines are out… I love double lines. I’m hoping that once they are in your room they are in better hands, and the teaching (socially distanced of course) takes over and provides structure. Even us high school folks make classroom rules – though probably not as creatively as you.

All of those entry procedures (and dismissal, too), all of that was up to the principal to plan. 1800+ principals. How many of them got it right? And of the ones who got it right a month ago, how schools have the necessary staff to make it happen? The superintendent and executive superintendent signed off – but they did not really look. How kids line up on their way in? How they get to classes? In most cases that’s your principal’s handiwork. In most, it should be okay.

But I’m worried about those of you in places where the morning brings chaos. Chaos, during a pandemic, is a safety issue. Chaos tomorrow will be a bigger issue than ventilation. If your school experiences chaos, have the Chapter Leader contact the District Rep and the UFT Hotline. And if the CL is not there, you can call the main UFT call center number 212-331-6311. (Why do we have a call center? That’s like calling a government office, or the cable company).

This is cruel. We all know that this system should be remote, needs to be remote. No one asked us. No one asked you. But if you are there tomorrow, I know you will do your best to take care of the kids, to take care of yourself. Please report any problems with safety or procedure (smaller things that can be handled by your school, bring them to the school leader and/or the UFT CL). And I know what you really love, teaching the little ones, and you will finally get a chance after almost seven months…

But be careful. And good luck.


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