New York City Teachers Union Says Schools Are Not Ready To Open

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Font Size:

New York City’s largest teachers union says schools should not reopen unless the city can put together a better plan.

The United Federation of Teacher (UFT) union said Wednesday teachers are not willing to go back to class unless the city can guarantee that schools meet certain health criteria, according to ABC7.

“We are not going back to hell because of short-sighted political agendas,” UFT President Mike Mulgrew said, according to the report. (RELATED: Andrew Cuomo Clears New York Schools To Reopen Classrooms)

Mulgrew says Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio must adopt the union’s safety guidelines, which includes:

  • 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
  • Each student and teacher must be screened and have evidence they do not have COVID before entering the school building each day

“New York City must have a rigorous and extensive testing and tracing program specifically customized for its school system. What happened in March cannot happen again in this city,” Mulgrew said, according to ABC7.

The city says they will eventually have a testing program for school staff while students will only get their temperature checked, per the same report.

But the city’s current plan to track COVID cases is not enough, according to Mulgrew, who tweeted there needs to be “evidence” that anyone in the school is COVID free.

UFT released a checklist for schools to use before opening, according to a tweet from ABC7’s Derick Waller

Some of the questions asked include:

  • Whether or not classrooms have access to operable windows
  • Whether schools have surgical grade masks for faculty and students
  • Whether schools have soap and paper in the bathrooms
  • Whether schools have a full-time nurse, and if so, whether there’s enough room in the nurse’s office to socially distance

The city is set to operate on a hybrid model that includes both in-person and online classes. de Blasio said 74% of students will use the hybrid model, while 26% of students will be using remote-only learning. Around 15% of teachers have requested to be remote while the rest will take part in the hybrid model, according to another report by ABC7.

The city’s reopening plan also includes a 14-day quarantine for anyone who tests positive, according to the same report.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted in support of UTF’s demand to delay opening schools, saying there needs to be a legitimate plan implemented before students and teachers can return to in-person classes.

“We must delay in-person schooling until appropriate safety measures are not just talked about, but actually implemented. We all need to work together to keep teachers, students, and families safe this school year. Proud to join @UTF in calling for real school safety today.”

Principals at 41 schools in Manhattan’s District 6 sent a letter to de Blasio and school chancellor Richard Carranza Tuesday asking for a delay, according to ABC7.

The Department of Education (DOE) issued a statement saying the city is the “safest majority city” in the country and that they are continuing to plan “for a September reopening,” according to the report. However, the DOE did not give a specific date for reopening.

Mulgrew tweeted Wednesday that it would be a mistake if schools open in September.

“It is our judgment at this point that if you open schools September 10, it will be one of the biggest debacles in history.”

However, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told a House Select Subcommittee hearing that schools can and should reopen, according to CNBC.

“It’s important to realize that it’s in the public health’s best interest for K-12 students to get back into face-to-face learning,” Redfield testified. “There’s really very significant public health consequences of the school closure.”

Redfield said students rely on schools for mental health services as well as “nutritional support.”