Child waiting for parents after school in a new Covid-19 reality. Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema of Unsplash

NYC parents take to City Hall and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Midtown office to protest against recent school closures

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have decided to close NYC Schools due to a 3% COVID-19 positivity rate. Parents are not happy about resuming full remote learning. 

Cold and Flu season is upon us and COVID-19 numbers have ramped up as expected. While Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo deemed it necessary to keep children out of school, parents expressed outrage about the three percent threshold as bars, restaurants and gyms remain open.

NYC parent and Federal Public Defender of the Eastern District of New York, Mia Eisner-Grynberg tweeted, “Sept 10? Broken promise. Sept 21? Broken promise. A device for every child? Broken promise. Separate in-school, blended-remote, and remote teachers? Broken promise. But 3%? That’s the “social contract.” That’s the “gold standard.” No, @NYCMayor. That’s bullshit. #OpenNYCSchools

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a resident of the American Enterprise Institute and board member of Pfizer believes that the schools should be the last place to shut down. As per Dr. Gottlieb a better public health approach would be to place heavier restrictions on in-door dining. 

Still a strict public health standard has been put in place as per Mayor Bill de Blasio. As it stands now buildings are closed, but school is still in session via remote learning. In-person learning will return as soon as possible according to Mayor Blasio.

. . . .

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted, “The test positivity rate in the focus areas under NY’s Micro-Cluster strategy is 4.73%. The statewide positivity rate excluding these focus areas is 3.10%. We continue to take strong action to respond to outbreaks and to stop the spread. Mask Up.”

According to the CDC, each state and school district should decide when to open, close, or reopen schools. Currently, the organization recommends paying close attention to the measure of the number of new cases per 100,000 people, and the percentage of tests that are positive during a two week period. As well, the CDC encourages a self-assessed measure of school implementation of essential mitigation strategies.

| Watch: Education in Covid-19 in a Covid-19 world — The Remedy Podcast

Irrespective of the statistics, parents took to twitter and formed the trending hashtag #KeepNYCSchoolsOpen. NYC parent Daniela Jampel started a petition on Change.org for reconsideration of the three percent threshold. So far the petition has over 14,000 signatures. The New York Post reports that Jampel delivered this petition to Mayor Blasio’s aide during a protest in front of City Hall. Following that protesters went to Gov. Cuomo’s Midtown office and attempted to deliver the same petition to him. To their disappointment, no one from the Governor’s office came down to intercept the petition.

Jampel tweeted, “We are paying (mostly white) @UFT teachers (who make pretty good money + excellent benefits) to stay home & teach while our kids go to Learning Bridges sites to remote learn & be overseen by a staff that is underpaid, non-unionized, & predominantly Black and brown. WTF.”

In the interim, NYC schools are keeping some of their services available. The City of New York tweeted, “Even when school buildings are closed, free meals are still available @NYCSchools Meal Hubs. Find sites and hours: schools.nyc.gov/freemeals.”

. . . .

Currently, barriers such as sneeze guards, partitions, six feet distances and mask requirements are in place in bars and restaurants in New York. As well, gyms encourage social distancing, mask wearing and frequent equipment cleaning.

Politico education reporter Madina Touré reported some teachers were also in support of keeping schools open. Touré tweeted: @reshmasaujani told me there are principals who initially didn’t want schools to open but now that they’re open and transmission rates are low, they want them to stay open.

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “We will likely see additional restrictions across the board in New York City. We have to do more to fight back a second wave of COVID-19. We will take the right steps to protect New Yorkers and limit activities that create danger.”

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