On Friday New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced, to some surprise, that all school districts in the state can reopen in the fall. He and his team checked the coronavirus infection rate all across the state and determined that it will be safe for students and teachers to return to in-person learning, with some stricter guidelines in place.
And feelings, particularly among parents and teachers, are mixed. For every teacher excited to get their kids back, there's another worried about his/her safety.
Scott O'Brien-Curcie, president of the Wyandanch Teachers Association, said he didn't like the way Cuomo handled the process, leaving the final call on reopening plans up the state Department of Health. "He now has a fall guy if he closes schools eventually," O'Brien-Curcie said, as reported by Newsday.com.
A group of New York City school teachers have the same fear, and put it down in writing for the governor.
NYC teachers wrote a letter to @NYGovCuomo urging him to keep @NYCSchools remote until we have frequent, rapid COVID-19 testing for ALL students & staff! Join us in our fight for the health & safety of all NYers by signing and sharing.#NotUntilItsSafe #FollowTheScience— Julia Feldman (@juliafeldman16) August 9, 2020
"We now ask that you take that same cautious approach, informed by the best science available, as we consider how to safely reopen our schools," they write. "We all want to return to the normalcy of in person learning; HOWEVER, we feel it is irresponsible to reopen our school buildings to children in any capacity until it can be done safely, for the sake of the health of our children, our staff, our families, and New York. We have serious concerns about how we can accomplish this in the NYC public school system with over 1 million students at over 1,600 schools, and in light of impending budget cuts, in time for buildings to reopen in September. Once outbreaks begin to happen in the schools, a second wave of COVID-19 in NYC seems inevitable."
Joining teachers in their crusade to keep the schools closed is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who has been a thorn in Cuomo's side for a few years now. She questioned his decision making.
If it’s not safe enough for indoor dining, what makes it safe enough for indoor schooling?— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 8, 2020
(...and restaurants actually have soap in the bathrooms)
Other activist groups are predicting that Cuomo's plan is going to get some teachers killed.
Hey Cuomo what do you say? How many teachers did you kill today?— BxEducatorsU4Justice (@BxEU4J) August 7, 2020