This Daily News story deeply troubled me.
A Brooklyn principal is under investigation for allegedly instructing roughly 150 teens and adults to eat lunch together in the cafeteria rather than their individual classrooms, flouting school COVID safety guidance and potentially putting students and staff at risk, The Daily News has learned.
Dozens of staff and students Thursday morning crowded into the school cafeteria at the Connie Lekas School for students with complex disabilities in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, under the orders of Principal Antoinette Rose, according to staff accounts and photos — contrary to Education Department guidance instructing schools to serve meals in classrooms whenever possible.
The quarters were too tight to maintain 6 feet of distance, staffers say, and students — some of whom have medical and respiratory conditions that put them at higher risk from the virus — were mostly maskless in order to eat, staffers say.
“A lot of them [the students] are medically fragile, a lot of them have asthma, have respiratory problems that would cause them to be high risk, and they were put in a very risky situation,” said one staffer who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
There wasn’t enough space to socially distance,” said Ilyana Frias, an Education Department paraprofessional and union representative for the school, who said she received a flood of angry calls from staffers after the lunch debacle.
The principal's motivation was that she wanted to serve a hot meal to the kids which is only available in a cafeteria but without social distancing, this was not legally possible. What I really can't comprehend is the teachers who complied with the principal's directive. They knew they were putting the health and safety of themselves and the students at risk and complied with her directive anyway. The principal wasn't even there. Back to the Daily News:
Adding to the outrage of some staffers: Rose works remotely, and the principal didn’t have to bear the risk of her decision, staffers say.
She wasn't in the building and people still wouldn't defy her orders.
As soon as school officials announced the plan Thursday morning to hold a group lunch in the cafeteria, staffers — who were accustomed to serving lunch in their individual classrooms — were skeptical.
“I was shocked when I heard there was going to be lunch in the cafeteria,” said one staffer.
“And then when I was in the cafeteria it was even more shocking,” the staffer added.
Teachers were initially told to seat students at every other table. But as kids and staff began flooding in, it became clear there wasn’t enough room, the staffer said.
“As everyone started pouring in it was pretty obvious there was not enough space to skip tables,” the employee recalled. “There wasn’t a lot of social distancing happening. A lot of the students weren’t wearing masks” because they were eating, the staffer added.
The follow-up question that I have to ask:
Why the hell didn't you just leave that cafeteria immediately and take your students with you when you saw it was crowded?
Are teachers that beaten down by the DOE-UFT that they will just listen to a principal no matter what and put their own health and the health of their students at risk? Screaming later is not good enough.
Mulgrew did respond after the fact:
"This principal should be removed,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.
“The health and safety protocols that need to be followed are crystal clear. This should have never happened.”
I will say again: If you don't feel a situation is safe in a building for you and/or your students, get the hell out of there immediately and worry about any consequences to your career later. Your health comes before your job and so does the health of the students.
I will make the point again not to go in if you don't feel a building is safe. Kids do spread COVID-19.