By: Jared Evan
Are schools reopening in NYC come September? Nobody is quite sure. What is sure however, most teachers do not want to return to the classrooms.
Roughly 80 percent of teachers at the city’s most prestigious public high school (Stuyvesant HS) will seek exemptions from a return to classrooms next academic year, the NY Post reported.
Independent NY news outlet The City reported: citing an “alarming lack of direction” in the city’s plans for reopening school buildings, a Sept. 10 start date seems increasingly difficult to achieve, according to a letter sent this week by the head of the union that represents school administrators.
“It is abundantly clear that the [Department of Education] has not provided you with the guidance and relevant information necessary for you to effectively plan for the opening of school buildings and offices in the fall,” wrote Mark Cannizzaro, the head of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, to school leaders on Wednesday.
“As each day passes without clear guidance and safety assurances, it becomes less likely that we will be ready to reopen in September.”
One would expect the union to look out for their members, however, to date, there is zero empirical evidence COVID-19 can be spread from children to adults, or vice-versa. It is reasonable for teachers and their union representatives to side with caution, considering there have been no concrete plans laid out.
The City reported: City officials have vowed that they will follow guidance to maintain social distancing, require students and teachers wear masks, adopt a rigorous cleaning regimen, and update school ventilation systems.
Key details have still not been released, however, including how the city will respond to infections in school communities, and whether there will be widespread coronavirus testing of students and staff.
Even basic issues like how children will maintain distance in bathrooms or how educators will enforce health-related rules remain murky.
In general, teachers across America do not want to go back to classrooms. Education week, a journal widely read by those in the profession reported: Already, teachers in Texas and Arizona have protested a return to in-person classes. The Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit against the state to try to block the “unsafe reopening of schools.” Meanwhile, tweets calling for a national teachers’ strike have garnered tens of thousands of retweets, as teachers weigh their options.
If Cuomo and de Blasio develop a solid school reopening plan, is it possible NY teachers will still strike?
The NY Post reported: according to a planning document, Stuyvesant High School administrators surveyed instructors to gauge future staffing shortfalls amid the coronavirus crisis.
“In a survey of teachers, 40% indicated that they fall under CDC guidelines and will apply for medical accommodation,” according to the document. “Another 40% indicated that they do not feel safe traveling on public transportation and will ask their physicians to submit a medical accommodation form.”
This pattern seems to be steady, not just among the elite schools. Many polls indicate that overall teachers are overly cautious and skeptical about returning to a classroom. A lot of questions relating to the fall school opening should eventually become clearer in ongoing weeks.