Over a year ago, the UNITY/UFT Caucus, under the leadership of President Michael Mulgrew, pushed Mayor Bill de Blasio to close our schools at the onset of this pandemic. The mayor was reluctant but UNITY/UFT worked tirelessly fighting for the health and safety for every UFT member, and we got the schools closed. Today, the fight continues.
The Centers for Disease Control recently announced new social distancing guidelines for schools. Immediately, the mayor announced he would increase the number of students attending schools in person. Of course, as has been the case time and again, de Blasio makes these proclamations without any thought or plans or even the authority to move forward. So, doing what UNITY/UFT has done for over a year, we push the mayor to correct his course as he steers for the cliff again.
We are consulting with medical experts, scientists and doctors who are reviewing the CDC’s latest guidelines. We believe experts should drive the conversation, not a politician. Expanding in-person learning at this time is not quite as simple as the mayor thinks. We have to analyze the schools, classroom by classroom, to determine if the space exists to do this safely. We know some schools and sites have the capacity, of course, but others do not. To make a blanket statement about expanding in-person instruction is disingenuous to say the least.
UNITY/UFT will fight to make sure that any expansion of in-person instruction is well planned, based upon both science and fact. Doing it any other way is a disservice to all of our school communities.
President Mulgrew, responding to the mayor’s latest announcement, said that “. . . while we wait for the state and medical experts to weigh in on the new CDC guidance we do what we have done for over a year – support our students and keep our school communities safe in these uncertain times.”