Saturday, August 01, 2020


Ladies and gentlemen we are having an impact. Michael Mulgrew's latest email sent tonight.

City falls short on safety plan for reopening schools

Dear UFT Member,
You have no doubt seen the headlines about the logistics around potentially reopening school buildings in September, including the latest proposals put forward earlier today by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Let me be clear: No decision has been made on reopening buildings in September for in-person learning. That decision cannot be based on the plans released thus far because the city’s safety proposals fall far short of anything we would agree to.
It’s the Department of Education's job to keep us safe, and it’s the union’s job to make sure the DOE does it the right way. That’s why we are fighting for your health and safety each and every day. We will not allow UFT members and our students to be put in danger in unsafe schools.
Many questions and issues remain unaddressed in the Mayor's safety proposal.
We are concerned that the turnaround time for testing and contact tracing is not fast enough in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in a school building. School communities need a 24-hour turnaround for test results and an action plan. Every moment counts when trying to learn whether someone has COVID-19 and determining who they have been in contact with.
The proposal also has no system in place for random, intermittent testing of our school communities. This is the only way to monitor what’s happening asymptomatically among staff and students and to keep tabs on students who don’t self-report.
The city has so far failed to fund a school nurse for every school, despite building its safety plan around that vital position.
Even if there are stronger safety standards in place, we still have grave concerns about the city’s ability to effectively enforce them in every school to protect students and staff.
We are awaiting the city's response on these and other outstanding issues.
We will continue to keep you informed and communicate with you as things happen. The safety of students and staff is our No. 1 priority, and we won’t agree to anything that puts us in harm's way. 


Michael Mulgrew
UFT President


Anonymous said...

Brought a smile to my face.

Cannot tell you how terrifying it is to think about entering a school building.

Anonymous said...

I do not want to be a science experiment.

I will advocate for myself and have, but this is going to require a collective effort.

Thank you Mulgrew for communicating to members how unsafe it continues to be.

Any word on what is going on with the principals' union?

Anonymous said...

NY Post article:

"This is what parents think about NYC’s school reopening plan"
By Steven Vago and Doug Cortese July 31, 2020 | 7:58pm

Parents greeted the city’s school reopening plan with cheers and jeers Friday.

For Sohna Wikman — a 44-year-old marketing consultant with a 13-year-old son at the International School of Brooklyn and an 8-year-old daughter at PS 321 — any fall without a full reopening is a bust, even with the coronavirus still around.

“I think they should open — it’s better for the kids,’’ she said.

“The school does so much more than teach — it provides a safety net, an insight into how they’re doing and not all families have opportunity to work from home.”

Still, the mom added, “My heart goes out to the teachers. They’re probably more at risk than our kids are.”

Her son, Caleb, seemed more accepting of online learning, calling it “the new normal.

“It was rough in the beginning. We had some crashes,’’ he said of the city’s move to online instruction this past spring in the grip of the pandemic. “We just had to get used to it.”

But her daughter Leah lamented, “I can’t play with my friends in the same way. And I really like to go out and come to school and see them in person.’’

Mia Huang, 31, an Upper West Side fashion buyer , said she is keeping her 5-year-old daughter Katherine at home from PS 334 no matter what.

“I don’t want the school reopening,’’ Huang said. “I’m not sure it’s very healthy for the children.”

“I don’t think it’s very safe, to have all the kids go back to school right now.”

Glenn McAnanama, who is in marketing and also lives on the Upper West Side, has one son, Reid, 9, who goes to private school, and another son, Finn, who attends public.

The dad said his mind is more at ease over Reid because “the private school has more space and more staff.”

As for city schools, “I hope they’re doing a lot of data tracking and testing and they’re honest with what the data says so everyone can make the best decision,’’ he said.

Brooklyn mom Shauna May, 36, said she sees the pros and cons to sending her children — 5-year-old son Jordayne and 9-year-old daughter Daeshanel — to school.

“My concern is they need a classroom environment to learn. With science, I have that concern,” said the East Flatbush resident.

“But “I’m scared for them to go to the classroom and be with other students.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea. … Sometimes when [the kids] are talking, they push down the masks.”

Anonymous said...

NY Post:

"Teachers, principals unions push back on de Blasio’s school reopening plan"
By Selim Algar July 31, 2020 | 4:16pm

The city’s teachers and principals unions both say Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza have a lot more explaining to do about COVID-19 safety protocols before they’ll agree to send teachers back into the classroom this fall.

The mayor vowed Friday to reopen schools in September as long as city coronavirus infection rates remain below 3 percent as City Hall rolled out broad safety protocols for the upcoming year.

But United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew pushed back on the plan and called for more stringent safety measures.

City Hall’s model will encourage, but not require, teachers to get tested just before the September start of the school year and will provide expedited testing and results for them at 34 centers.

But the union pressed for mandatory random testing throughout the year to guard against exposures.

“The standards the city proposed — for protection, testing, and closing of schools and classrooms — are not enough,” Mulgrew said in a statement. “We need randomized testing of school communities throughout the year and a vigorous contact tracing system that gives schools test results and a course of action with a 24-hour turnaround.”

The UFT also questioned the ability of the Department of Education to enforce safety precautions for city schools, including mandatory masks for students.

“What’s more, even if there are stronger safety standards in place, we still have grave concerns about the city’s ability to enforce them effectively in every school,” he said “Right now, this is not enough to protect students and staff.”

The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators also expressed doubt about the existing format Friday.

“We have serious concerns about what has been communicated to school leaders so far regarding safety protocols and instructional designs as well the city’s ability to provide schools with the necessary resources to implement their plan,” said CSA President Mark Cannizzaro, whose union represents school principals.

“We have been meeting with the DOE to communicate these concerns and will continue to fight for common sense protocols that will protect our school communities and provide children with the education they deserve.”

Both de Blasio and Carranza said they’re working closely with the unions but conceded points of contention.

The teachers union has broached the possibility of court action and protests if their demands are not met while some factions within the group have not ruled out strikes.

Positive student coronavirus cases in city schools will trigger temporary classroom and building closures along with mandatory quarantines for impacted kids and staff. Responses will vary according to the circumstances at individual schools.

De Blasio has backed a partial school reopening in part to provide scheduling relief for city parents who are not able to work remotely and must grapple with childcare dilemmas.

Depending on an individual school’s size and building footprint, kids would be in school between one and three days a week.

De Blasio said Friday that school operations could be modified if the coronavirus retreats still further in New York City but said officials are awaiting a vaccine before authorizing a full resumption of classroom learning.

Anonymous said...

Among other things I am curious to know if anyone understands how the implementation of de Blasio's 3% positive test rule will work. It sounds to me like he said all schools will be shut down if NYC reaches a 3% positive test rate. But NYC is huge. The Bronx is the same size as Philadelphia. In March , when the city wide positive test rate was above 10% most of The Bronx, parts of Queens and Brooklyn were above 20% while most of Manhattan and Staten Island were negligible.
Haven't seen any positive test rate percentages recently but I wouldn't be surprised if there areas of NYC that are still at 3%.
I live and teach in Bronx district 11, one of the hardest hit areas of the city in March/April. So my question is this, what happens when the positive test rate is 5%,10%, 15% or more in Bronx district 11 or any other district in the city but the test rate in the city as a whole is only 2.9% ???? As was shown in March, NYC is too big for a one size fits all policy. If there is a % positive test rate rule it should be done on a district or borough basis. But guess what...they never will. Such stupidity and insanity all around . We are definitely all on our own now nationally and locally.

Anonymous said...

UFT members cannot work under unsafe conditions. It's in the contract. PERIOD.

Anonymous said...

New York City students will not return to class if coronavirus infection rates surge above a 3% average, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday. ------Chalkbeat.

Anonymous said...

The percentage rate is a secondary issue.

First what must be established is safety. Members have the right to not go into a school building to perform their job duties if schools are unsafe. It's in the contract. In this case, remote would be the safe manner to address the education of students.

Once the hurdle of safety is addressed, then can check for the percentage rate.

Bronx ATR said...

If there’s a non- sanctioned job action or strike, Mulgrew will disappear in a puff of smoke. Nice words from him mean absolutely nothing. As he refuses to address or even acknowledge his inaction on 3/17, 3/18 and 3/19, why would anyone put their faith in him now? Don’t wait for him to stand up to his lord and master Bill deBlasio. The only real hope, but it’s a very solid one, that the schools won’t open is the concerted effort from the Democratic machine that wants everything to remain closed, including schools, to tank the economy further and ensure Trump isn’t reelected. Bill, Andy and Mike can’t make it too obvious. Cuomo, deBlasio and Mulgrew will agree to keep the schools closed after some unintentionally humorous, melodramatic faux fighting and long soliloquies to embolden their supporters and silence their detractors - and they will keep the schools closed.

James Eterno said...

Nice words from Mulgrew are a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Ventilation, eating in same classrooms as instruction. worries about lack of enforcement with students, one quarantine can bench all the teachers in a grade, the expectation to teach live and virtually in same day, reduced prep time, meetings?

Anonymous said...

Not a strong statement, I hoped for more.
Aug. 1: No detailed plans on
a) How short-handed custodial staff that cannot manage to keep two bathrooms clean throughout the day and who cannot clean the entire building more than once a year are expected to do so "throughout the day".

b) Who will clean the infectious saliva messes of students eating in every classroom throughout the day?

c) Who will teach the Cohorts that are remote when their teacher is instructing the Cohort that is face-to-face? "30 minutes in the morning to coordinate" is not enough time - especially for teachers with multiple subjects/levels. "20 minutes" at the end of the day is not enough when you have 170 students. Shortening the prep period is another slap in the face here. Once more they expect superheroes with infinite time expansion powers. It is not realistic and will fail our students.

d) If a student becomes infected (after at least a 24 hr turnaround by lab), they intend to quarantine the classroom. This may work in Elementary schools when a student is with the same teacher and class all day. This fails completely when that same student sees 8 different teachers with several different sets of students in 8 different classrooms. One infected student becomes hundreds of carriers/infected.

e) Asymptomatic spread... that's it. A student comes in showing no symptoms but can spread it to all 8 classes.

f) How can they claim it is Phase 4 when restaurants are not permitted indoor seating? They can't eat in a restaurant b/c it is not safe, however it is fine to be in school? NYC is not in Phase 4 - except to lie.

g) Schools will reopen with <3% - did they tell you what percentage it will take to close them?

h) One isolation room with one staff member works for one student. What happens if you have two, three, four?

I can go on and on here.
There is no plan that has a basis in reality that allows us to safely return to our schools. There is no plan for teaching the hybrid model. If de Blasio and the Chancellor were in charge of Operation Overlord it'd be:
deBlasio: "We've been planning for over 5 months to free France and we're ready to do so"
Regular Infantry: "Great! What's our plan?"
deBlasio: "Our plan is to free France!"
Regular Infantry: "What exactly is our plan?"
deBlasio: "We ready! Figure out the details among yourselves. Get on the ships and free France!"
Regular Infantry: "What ships?"


Lydia H. said...

This announced plan for dealing with COVID cases in schools is reactionary in nature, not broad enough in its scope and, I believe, simply unsustainable when considering the recent track record of the City and of the Department. While I am disappointed, the 3,600 UFT members who support us must know now that this is another example of a pattern of leadership that simply does not make the grade . It is time for us to act.

Please sign the petition:

James Eterno said...

11:24, All points are well taken. Mulgrew compared to the conciliatory tone he took the other day sounded like an actual union leader in this latest email. It is a step in the right direction. Keep up the pressure.

Anonymous said...

i loved the observations on the right.
what happened to "no indoor dining"? uft agreed to this? sounds like a fn PROSE school and days have been "repurposed." wtf?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be great and honest from all parts involved to sit down, with the media present, and discuss one by one the reopening plan steps, having the Union providing solid arguments about how this plan fails staff, students and families equally?

The public, that many times ignores the complicated details of school's life, would get a clearer view and more objective perspective from an open debate between the DOE, the UFT, and the CSA.

School reopening has become so much politicized that the true scope has been blurred: this is about health and safety for all. They should discuss their plan openly, in front of a scrutinous audience, taking responsibility for their opinions, statements and actions.

Otherwise, how can any of us trust them?

Anonymous said...

The information as to which schools are unsafe and the reasons why are not transparent. If the union has been working with the DOE on his, we, as members, have not clue as to what schools have been inspected.

Anonymous said...

full video. i lost track of the contractual violations the presenters suggest were already agreed to by uft. smdh.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, how can you have no indoor dining and then let kids eat in the classroom? Great article in the Post about how the city may lose 300 or more principals due to retirement, but they'll easily replace them since you don't need to know much to be a principal which has been proven time and time again.

Anonymous said...

Indoor? Like a classroom? Growing body of research suggests that indoor spaces with poor ventilation or lack of new air can raise the risk of the virus' spread, according to infectious disease aerobiologist.

Anonymous said...

There is still so much to learn about this virus. The thought that COVID-19 would have slowed down during the summer months has been proven inaccurate. The fall has been predicted to be very dangerous.

Anonymous said...


"The dominoes are falling now,” said David Rubin, director of the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which has produced a model showing where the virus is likely to spread over the next four weeks.

His team sees ominous trends in big cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington, with Boston and New York not far behind. And Rubin warns that the expected influx of students into college towns at the end of this month will be another epidemiological shock.

Anonymous said...

Time to demolish the majority of city schools and rebuild them into gorgeous, modern, well-ventilated buildings.

Anonymous said...

“Let’s be honest about it. I don’t want to go back to teaching in the fall for one reason and one reason only - I HATE teaching! I hate the barely sane youths, the petty ignorant administrators, the racist security staff, the pedophile ex-1980s squeegee janitorial staff and the entire fucking third world banana republic Bronx. I’m getting my surfboard ready and I’m looking forward to a second Covid wave! Common baby!”
I’m not serious of course, I’m retired, but many of my still teaching friends actually do feel that way. They are too invested to quit and this pandemic of 2020 has been the best year of their lives. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

Letter to NY Post

The DOE’s plan fails NYC students and teachers

I read the DOE’s 32 page “plan” this morning. It is abysmal and puts NYC students and staff at risk. A few points which really must be addressed:

1. Does Mr. Carranza know that middle school and high school students can’t remain in single cohort classrooms because they don’t all take the same classes? There is no way for cohorts not to mix.

2. Given #1, there is no way for a teacher and cohort to isolate if someone is suspected or confirmed to have COVID—that teacher would be needed to teach multiple other classes to other cohorts who are in the building. There aren’t enough adults to monitor students in class if the teacher is awaiting test results or becomes ill.

3. Given that teachers will be exposed to multiple cohorts, any exposure for that teacher means that multiple cohorts will need to isolate and be tested; it’s impossible to close one classroom.

4. How is the teacher or staff member in the room supposed to remain safe when students take masks off to eat?

5. Has Mr. Carranza ever met students? They WILL put fingers under their masks; they WILL take masks off to sneeze or even just to breathe; they WILL tease each other or bully each other—or staff—by removing masks and breathing, coughing, and even spitting.

6. What happens during scanning into the building? Our building, the Theodore Roosevelt Campus, holds more than 3,000 students. Even if we divide into thirds, one thousand students will be entering each day. Even if we stagger school entry times so that only a few hundred students are entering at a time, it is impossible for those students to maintain 6’ social distancing, with full masks, and go through scanning…and certainly not in a reasonable amount of time.

7. The plan continues to rely on open windows for ventilation, without regard for temperature. That is unreasonable. it is also inadequate, as per a study released yesterday by the University of Minnesota.

8. No information about the toxicity of the chemicals in the electrostatic sprayers has been provided. That could be a very serious health risk.

9. The Janitorial Union has said that the deep cleaning is impossible to complete without much more money and many more staff. If you are unaware of the inadequacy of cleaning on a regular basis, please be advised that what we are being told will happen is humanly impossible for our janitorial staff.

10. The complete focus on safety will completely preclude effective instruction. We still have a month to focus on improving distance learning for our students. We need PD. We need time to plan. It is impossible to teach well when we never know from one day to the next where we’ll be, and it is impossible to continuously pivot between open and closed classrooms and schools as people become ill. The students will suffer both emotionally and academically far more than if we simply commit to teaching remotely and put all energy and training into doing that as well as humanly possible.

There is much more, but this short list is more than enough to reject the DOE’s failing plan to reopen NYC school buildings.

Rachel Piven

Anonymous said...

Yahoo News
More than 80% of California residents live in counties where test positivity rates and hospitalizations are too high for school buildings to open under state rules issued last month. And schools in Alexandria, Virginia, said Friday that they would teach remotely, tipping the entire Washington-Baltimore metro area, with more than 1 million children, into virtual learning for the fall.

Al Goldstein said...

James Eterno,

Writing because e-mails have been erased.

Where and when in the contract does it state that Teachers are entitled to a post-conference after an Informal?
Did Ms. Judith Chen write such a Directive?

Anonymous said...

Here is the protocol.

Find a safety violation or failure to follow CDC guidelines in your building.
Such as Janitorial Union says deep cleaning is impossible.

Bring together a group of teachers and refuse to go in due to unsafe working conditions.
Justify your concerns in writing. Delay.

File complaints with appropriate government health and regulatory agencies.
Do not return to the building until you receive documentation.

If you need a lawyer to fight the DOE over safety issues, make sure to demand that NY city pays for your legal expenses. You should not be paying to make sure the school building is safe.

Delay and procrastinate.

Contact the newspapers and media about the safety violations.
Publicize the DOE failure. Make sure that articles show up in the NY city newspapers.
Delay and fight for as long as it takes to never enter a school building.

Then find another safety violation. It should be easy given the enduring incompetence of the DOE. Repeat this protocol again and again.

Anonymous said...

Yes and get bad observations again and again.

Anonymous said...

Good advise 7:28 AM.

It should not have to occur if the UFT pulls through on establishing the unmet safety protocols. Everyone would benefit. That's how it should be.

UFT needs to forward an update and continued document of schools visited and safety concerns in them to its members. Transparency.

Prehistoric pedagogue said...

5:33 PM. I believe this attitude is very common among veteran teachers. They see this as a way of prolonging a career by having a sort of semi sabbatical. There is nothing the city can do that will persuade them back to school

Anonymous said...

We would rather not die Mr Prehistoric. Simple as that. Easy for you to tell us we are looking for a sabbatical from your retired perch.

Prehistoric pedagogue said...

I readily concede that it is easy for me to say However, that doesn’t make me wrong

Anonymous said...

It is totally wrong in my case.

Anonymous said...

It is totally wrong in my case.

TeachNY said...

As long as we do not strike. I refuse. Just don’t have the $. And terrified of what we would be coming back to once the strike has destroyed whatever “contract” we have.

People should just take a leave of absence on this one.