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Mulgrew and Porter statements seem contradictory

March 19, 2021 pm31 6:40 pm

How can they both be right?

I think that Mulgrew’s words have to be read very carefully. They have lawyers and others at 52 Broadway, I am guessing, who carefully help craft lawyerly ways of saying things. Everything written since last March has to be carefully parsed, not read at face value. Did he say something would not happen, or that he did not expect it? Did he say that something was wrong, or that the UFT would actually fight it? You can’t go by a first read. But in this case, he states details of the CDC guidance that are correct, and says it would be complicated, and that the DoE would have a lot to figure out. He does not say that the UFT would fight it. (I didn’t expect that). He does not say the UFT would fight the DoE if they violated state guidelines. (Too bad, I thought he might).

Read it yourself, see if you agree.

Vaccines up, closures down ahead of NYC middle school reopening

Meisha Porter is a new entity – and in her first meaningful act – sounds like Bill de Blasio is speaking. I’m not shocked to be disappointed, although I had hopes otherwise. And I’m a little surprised to be disappointed so swiftly. I think she is ignoring the State, and ignoring that there is no actual plan. I’m also not wild the way she addresses teachers. Lots of people make us feel like pawns, but sometimes it takes more than a week.

Read for yourself, see if you agree:

Dear Jonathan,

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released updated guidance saying only three feet of distance is required between students as long as everyone is wearing a mask.

While we understand that the availability of vaccines and new information have prompted policies and guidance to continually evolve, we want to consult with our trusted independent medical experts and have asked them to evaluate this new recommendation.

Once the CDC puts out recommended guidance, it’s then up to each state to decide whether or not to adopt it as policy. New York City does not have the authority to change its policy for public schools on its own. We will be working with New York State health and education officials as they decide how to proceed.

Under the updated CDC guidance, school staff must still maintain six feet of distance from other adults and from students. The guidance also says students must maintain six feet of distance in any public area, such as gyms, hallways and lunchrooms. The agency recommends keeping students and teachers in distinct cohorts throughout the day. In middle schools and high schools where community transmission is higher, the CDC advises students to stay six feet apart if cohorting is not possible.

As a public school educator, you know that it would be extremely complicated to implement such a plan in New York City public schools. The DOE would have a lot to figure out.

Our members’ safety remains our top priority, and we will continue to be guided by our medical experts as we navigate the road ahead. By letting the science guide us, we have kept our school communities safe.

We will continue to advocate for you and keep you informed of policy decisions that affect you.

Be well and be safe.

Michael Mulgrew's Signature
Michael Mulgrew
UFT President


Dear Colleagues,  

Happy Friday! I hope you are well today. 

As you may have heard, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) today announced that it is updating its recommendations for physical distancing in schools, decreasing from six feet to three feet for most students in most cases. 

This is welcome news with respect to in-person learning, allowing us to bring more students back into buildings. In response, we now plan to open another opt-in window beginning next week for all families. Our 3K, Pre-K, Elementary, and District 75 Elementary students who opt-in will begin returning to buildings in April; details to come on middle and high school student start dates. 

While this is exciting news that allows us to continue to both best serve our children and lead the nation in in-person learning, it is also a complex undertaking, and I know many of you will have questions about what this means for you. Please trust that we are actively working with our partners at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to evaluate the CDC guidance and  provide detailed answers as soon as possible. But in the meantime, here’s what I can tell you for now:   

·         For our principals, I know you want to give your students the best chance for success. I know this will be hard work, but the reward will be on the faces of our kids when they return to buildings. Being a principal for ten years, I understand that any changes now pose major challenges, but we stand ready to support you, troubleshoot, and help any student who wants to be back in the physical classroom get there.  

·         For teachers, paraprofessionals and other in person classroom staff, we are going to consider health and safety in every single decision we make. I also understand that each school community is different, and we will be flexible and take into account the specific needs of each school as we work closely with our labor partners every step of the way.  

·         For school support and all other staffour hard-working custodial workers, food service employees, school aides, parent coordinators  thank you. From my 20 years in the DOE, I know you all are the ones who keep it all together. This has been a year unlike any other. 

One thing this year has taught us is that any time in the physical classroom is valuable. And because we still have a third of the school year left, the DOE is going to do what we have always done during the pandemic: act in the best interest of our school communities, keeping health and safety front and center.  

On a personal note, let me say that my first week as Chancellor has certainly been memorable, eventful, and uplifting! As we look forward to the reopening of our high school buildings on Monday and the opt-in opportunities going forward, I hope you will take a couple of minutes to watch this video of me describing why I am so proud to lead you and what lies ahead for us. Thank you so much, and have a wonderful weekend! 



Meisha Porter

Chancellor, New York City Public Schools


New York City Department of Education

52 Chambers Street | New York, NY 10007

Postscript – the UFT responded:


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