UFT goes all in with the State and against de Blasio on the new opt in period for in-person learning.
Happy Friday! I hope you are well today.
As you may have heard, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) today announced that it is updating its recommendations for physical distancing in schools, decreasing from six feet to three feet for most students in most cases.
This is welcome news with respect to in-person learning, allowing us to bring more students back into buildings. In response, we now plan to open another opt-in window beginning next week for all families. Our 3K, Pre-K, Elementary, and District 75 Elementary students who opt-in will begin returning to buildings in April; details to come on middle and high school student start dates.
While this is exciting news that allows us to continue to both best serve our children and lead the nation in in-person learning, it is also a complex undertaking, and I know many of you will have questions about what this means for you. Please trust that we are actively working with our partners at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to evaluate the CDC guidance and provide detailed answers as soon as possible. But in the meantime, here’s what I can tell you for now:
· For our principals, I know you want to give your students the best chance for success. I know this will be hard work, but the reward will be on the faces of our kids when they return to buildings. Being a principal for ten years, I understand that any changes now pose major challenges, but we stand ready to support you, troubleshoot, and help any student who wants to be back in the physical classroom get there.
· For teachers, paraprofessionals and other in person classroom staff, we are going to consider health and safety in every single decision we make. I also understand that each school community is different, and we will be flexible and take into account the specific needs of each school as we work closely with our labor partners every step of the way.
· For school support and all other staff, our hard-working custodial workers, food service employees, school aides, parent coordinators -- thank you. From my 20 years in the DOE, I know you all are the ones who keep it all together. This has been a year unlike any other.
One thing this year has taught us is that any time in the physical classroom is valuable. And because we still have a third of the school year left, the DOE is going to do what we have always done during the pandemic: act in the best interest of our school communities, keeping health and safety front and center.
On a personal note, let me say that my first week as Chancellor has certainly been memorable, eventful, and uplifting! As we look forward to the reopening of our high school buildings on Monday and the opt-in opportunities going forward, I hope you will take a couple of minutes to watch this video of me describing why I am so proud to lead you and what lies ahead for us. Thank you so much, and have a wonderful weekend!