Please listen very carefully to UFT President Michael Mulgrew's interview with Bridget Quinn on the 1010 WINS Newsline from this morning. Itook notes:
Mulgrew starts by saying he is happy with the mayor's new policy to test for COVID weekly but Mulgrew blasted the new policy not to quarantine elementary school students (whole classes) if there was a positive case in a classroom. Mulgrew acknowledged that Delta is dangerous for kids who don't yet have access to a vaccine but soon could and he says there was a ten-day quarantine if there was a positive case but now the mayor is saying as long as the children were always three feet apart and they have well-fitted masks on that only the child who tests positive would have to quarantine and the rest of the students would stay in place. He then added that the UFT does not agree with that at all.
Bridget Quinn then asks Mulgrew what he thinks should happen with those kids who should be quarantined. Mulgrew responds by saying we want as minimal disruption as possible but we have to balance that with the safety for our students. He adds that last year COVID wasn't that big an issue with our younger students and if they did get it, it wasn't causing many problems unless there was an underlying condition. If we were a suburban district, we could guarantee that children were always 3 feet apart and there were never close contacts. We can't do that in NYC. We are the largest school system and we are very crowded. We don't agree with this change and there is no plan.
Quinn asks for clarification on whether they should quarantine. Mulgrew answers that the kids need to be quarantined. Quinn then responds that the mayor says he is following CDC guidelines. Mulgrew answers that the CDC guidelines are for most school systems but that NYC is unlike most systems because of its huge size and because it is very crowded. Last week the mayor was touting how he was better than everybody else because he was doing more than the CDC guidelines.
Quinn then asks: "What do you do now on the quarantine issue?"
Mulgrew replies that we are a union; we represent the teachers and many of the staff members in the school buildings. Our constant struggle throughout the pandemic is to keep the entire school community safe. We'll be working with the parents; we'll be working with the principals and the principal's union just trying to monitor this as best as we can because the mayor announced something today and there is no plan on how do we ensure that everyone has a well-fitted mask on. He asks: "Do you know what a well-fitted mask is?" Quinn answers that she does. She then adds that some kids will show up with the cloth masks that aren't really great and don't have a great fit so they could be exposed that way. Mulgrew interjects that there are many schools that cannot adhere to the 3-feet guidelines and they have exceptions. Are they part of this? They then talk about the remote option and P.S 79 being closed. Mulgrew says thousands are already being taught remotely. P.S. 79 was the first school where we have definitive evidence that the spread was from inside the building. He claims we didn't have that last year.
Mulgrew's response to this dangerous policy change is as lame as we've come to expect. His outrage may be real but his solution to use the parents and the CSA to shield him shows how weak he is.
What he should have said was if there is a positive case in an elementary school classroom, we are going to scream as loud as we can that the classroom is not safe and we urge everyone in the class to stay home and quarantine for ten days. We'll teach the children remotely to minimize the chance of a huge COVID spread in a school building.
What is so difficult about standing up for the health and safety of the kids and UFTers and not looking to hide behind the parents and the principals' union? He would have plenty of support if he would just lead here.
Mulgrew's latest email. He is calling for an email campaign to the mayor. It is a start.