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Will they close school buildings in NYC in January?

January 3, 2021 am31 4:14 am

There are so many issues with the QUESTION!

Schools are open – the question is about the buildings

Notice “school buildings”? That’s because our schools have remained open, and will remain open, for remote instruction.

High Schools and Middle Schools are open –
but those buildings are closed and will remain closed.

Also, high school and middle school buildings were closed before break, and will remain closed for the foreseeable future (probably not up for real reconsideration until February). So we are really only talking about half the schools in NYC. Oh, and also, even if that half are open, as we saw in December, many of them get closed because – well – COVID-19. So maybe we are asking “will they open 30 – 40% of the school buildings in NYC?”

New York State counts funny (their counts are low)

Then there is the New York State guideline – at 9% positive, schools close. The City’s numbers have just climbed past 9%. So will schools be closed on Monday???  Wait a second. New York State calculates the positive rate differently, nd the State’s numbers are still under 6% for NYC. So maybe schools will be open.

Low counting or not, New York State is not doing well

New York State. The Gold Standard in combatting COVID. Well, no. New York was the global epicenter of COVID in April. And today New York is the only state to have new cases keep climbing without a dip since Thanksgiving. That doesn’t mean that Cuomo will admit his failure. He won’t. But it is food for thought.

By the way, the last few days have not made New York State look better:

Things are getting worse, not better.

Can we see how quickly the case rate is rising in NYC?

But that does raise the issue, if NYC says the positive rate is 9.4%, and New York State says 5.8%, but the numbers are going up, what is the trend? Let’s look.

Here are the zipcodes the City says have been over 9% for 14 days (as of last Tuesday)

Here are the zipcodes the City says have been over 9% for 7 days. Notice there’s a few more:

That’s some serious spread between two and three weeks ago.

Here is the map for “the last three days” (December 26 – 29):

That’s now a third of the City.

And finally, just looking at December 29:

That’s almost half the City. This sequence tells us what we already know – the COVID trend in NYC right now is up, and pretty fast.

The New York State numbers lag, but not too much

So if the NY State numbers are at 5.8%, that’s 5.8 and rising quickly. Getting to 9% for the State might be like getting to 13% for the City. Two weeks ago, one zipcode was there. One week ago, 6 zipcodes were over 13%. But now? 24 zipcodes in four boroughs – that’s one seventh of the city. And the Christmas “surge” has just started. Strictly using New York State numbers, the trigger will probably be reached in a week or two.

So that means schools will close? No. Not Necessarily

The trigger point may not be reached.

More worrying, de blasio indicated he might not bother following the rules. And a union spokesperson, hearing de blasio, did not complain.

How do de blasio and the UFT leadership ignore the numbers? They are so clear!

They claim that few cases are transmitted in school. They actually do not know that this is true.

Further, they ignore not the numbers, but a fact:  There are 1.1 million school children in NYC Public Schools – but on any given day fewer than 10% were in school buildings. Few kids? Very little transmission. But de blasio wants to increase five day a week in person schooling.

So, in a City where rates are soaring, the mayor wants to increase the concentration of children and adults, in spaces that mix individuals from multiple households? Yup.

The UFT leadership made the case from as early as June that with a low case rate we had an obligation to try to open school buildings. But with the rate no longer low, they still argue to open buildings. Something is seriously wrong here.

What should we do?

Please point out, gently, that this is insane. This pandemic has cost 26,000 lives in NYC, almost as high as the Spanish Flu a century ago (about 30,000). This pandemic has cost ten times as many lives as 9/11.

Talk to your colleagues. Information is our ally. Talk to your union reps – to your Chapter Leader, District Rep, Borough Rep, VP, and other officers. If they privately tell you you are right, insist that they talk to people up the chain. There needs to be more push back.

I’m not a fan of contacting elected officials – but honestly, today? any option. City Council, State Assembly, State Senate.

Get the word out, get the conversation going. The facts are on our side.


One Comment leave one →
  1. leonie haimson permalink
    January 4, 2021 pm31 9:55 pm 9:55 pm

    Cuomo no longer says he will close schools at 9%. He says whatever the rate is, if it’s lower than the surrounding community, schools should stay open. de Blasio could close them but he is still saying no.

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