NYC Teachers and Principals Pressure Mayor de Blasio to Delay School Reopening

New York City public schools are set to reopen on Sept. 10. However, the city’s teachers, principals, and staff say schools are unprepared to reopen and are pressuring Mayor Bill de Blasio to delay the start of in-person instruction by several weeks, reports the New York Times.

Just a few months ago, New York City was a global epicenter of the pandemic, but de Blasio is determined to reopen the nation’s largest school system in order to help the city’s struggling economy by allowing more parents to return to work and to provide needed services for vulnerable students. Many large school districts around the country like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston have opted to begin the school year remotely.

New York City schools plan to provide its 1.1 million students a hybrid learning model with the option of being fully remote. With less than a month away till the start of the school year, many principals are questioning their school’s readiness. The New York Times reports principals need more time to make decisions about staffing and are questioning if they have enough personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies and if aging school buildings have proper ventilation.

On Wednesday, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said that no New York City school should reopen for in-person classes until they meet certain health criteria, including:

  • Schools must be stocked with cleaning supplies, PPE and proper ventilation.
  • Each school must have a clear plan of action and a COVID response team in place.
  • All students and teachers must be screened and have evidence that they do not have coronavirus before being allowed to enter a school building.

“We’re asking the Mayor to adopt this school safety report. This city went through hell and came back and we are not going back to hell because of short-sighted political agendas,” Mulgrew said at a press conference.

Last week, the city’s principal’s union wrote a letter calling on the mayor to delay reopening schools for in-person instruction until the end of September. On Tuesday, more than 40 school leaders from District 6 wrote a letter to ask May de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza for more time for logistical planning, echoing calls from school leaders in District 13 and 15.

In addition, a local union which represents school aides, health aides, lunch cooks, crossing guards paraprofessionals, parent coordinators and other school staff have requested at least a 30-day delay.  

The decision about whether to reopen and when rests solely on Mayor de Blasio. Despite calls for a delay, so far he intends to begin on Sept. 10.

About the Author

Yvonne Marquez is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].