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.