Doubts and fears among parents about the future of schools in NYC due to the rise in COVID cases | The State

Maria Tula began 2021 with positive thoughts, but openly warns that beyond the economic difficulties that it imposed the COVID-19 pandemic, He is very concerned about the effects in his day to day causes of the rise in the contagion of the virus in New York, which is unleashed.

The current panorama of COVID-19 has it between a rock and a hard place, because he says that on the one hand he is concerned that in a short time all the schools will end up closing again and he will be unable to work, and on the other, that if the schools remain open with more cases overwhelmed in the city, children get sick and end up spreading it to adults in their families.

With a gesture of anguish, the mother of the family, who makes her living in the informal sale, confesses that if the campus closes in The bronx where her oldest girl, who is in fourth grade, goes, she would have no choice but to stop working. That would mean less money for her, and for her little girl, a return to stress and depression from having to be alone with virtual classes all the time from her home.

“I walk with Jesus in my mouth. I don’t even know what is better. They told us at school that suddenly they end up closing if the cases rise more, but I feel confused because if they remain open, how will the girl go and get the virus, “says the Mexican mother, who is with her other young daughter , 3 years old, while selling masks and wool hats in the streets to make ends meet.

The concern of the young immigrant increased, after last Tuesday the City confirmed that 138 school buildings in the city will be temporarily closed to take face-to-face classes, due to cases of COVID-19 or related incidents. His fear increased after learning that the latest report on the rate of infections in New York City, presented Thursday by the Mayor Bill de Blasio, already around 9.21% in the average of the last 7 days, a figure that since the reopening of the city was initially raised as a trigger for the alarms. Statewide contagions are in 6%.

Teachers stance on closures

Concern also hovers on the side of teachers, and through their union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), have stated their position that 1,800 public campuses should be closed if the infection figures exceed 9%. And although the Big Apple has already reached that top, teachers have asked that the metric used by the Big Apple to make that decision be the state one and not the local one.

“Since every other community in the state uses the state methodology, New York City should adopt it as well. With this state measure, if the community infection rate in the city reaches 9%, the safest thing is to close schools, even if the rate (of infections) in schools is lower ”, said the president of the UFT Michael Mulgrew, warning that in that case the state metric should not continue to deviate from the own metric that schools carry. “Safety comes first, as evidenced by the fact that hundreds of our elementary schools and classrooms are temporarily closed every day because the virus has been detected.”

The union leader also insisted on the importance of the prompt implementation of la vaccine against COVID-19 among members of school communities, in order to be able to counter the outbreak and be more calm and safe.

The real answer for New York is to make the vaccine immediately available to all school personnel. We cannot allow bureaucratic grumbling and procedural delays to endanger the safety of students, school personnel and their families, ”warned the head of the UFT, who on Friday presented a plan to the Cuomo Administration on the application of vaccines in schools, after the president showed his support for prompt vaccination in schools.

DOE sticks with its plan

Despite the fears raised by the spread of infections, the City Department of Education (DOE) remains in their stance of keeping schools open, ensuring that they are constantly looking at the situation with a magnifying glass and that far from 9.2% of infections in New York, schools register less than 1%.

“We will continue to closely monitor metrics, including in-school tests that have resulted in a 0.43% positivity rate, out of more than 250,000 tests,” he said. Miranda Barbot, DOE spokeswoman. “While the State uses a set of numbers, the City will continue to report detailed city-wide numbers to track COVID in different communities.”

The official of the Education deparment He also assured that they are still waiting for the State give the green light to the early start of the vaccination plan in schools, which will benefit the entire school community.

“New York City is pushing for school personnel to be included in vaccine distribution this month and has set a gold standard for keeping our schools safe,” added Barbot.

The DOE also cautions that 95% of elementary schools and early childhood programs are open with face-to-face classes.

The Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has also been a faithful defender of not closing schools again, even if the numbers of infections continue to skyrocket in the five counties, since the infection rate in schools is minimal.

“Schools can remain open as long as it is shown, through tests, that the presence of the virus is less in schools than in surrounding communities”, Cuomo warned.

Mayor asks for vaccination in schools

He Mayor Bill de Blasio he insisted on Thursday on the urgent call to the Cuomo Administration to allow immunization efforts in New York schools to begin immediately. The president mentioned that he is on the same page with the Teacher’s union, which is developing a vaccination plan with the help of hospitals and health care providers to set up vaccination centers in medical or school buildings.

“Clearly, we would install the gadget and the beauty of going and doing vaccinations in schools is exactly the same model that we have with testing in schools. We are testing every school in New York City every week, ”he said. Mayor.

“We will organize a vaccination effort in schools as soon as we get permission to do so. Once again, I would like to receive that authorization right now. I would like New York State to grant me the right to begin vaccinating educators and school personnel now, ”he added.

De Blasio He reiterated that they have health personnel in advance in each school. “I just want the freedom to do so and I want to work closely with the UFT to maximize the number of members who would be willing to get vaccinated,” he said.

Catalina Castillo, who has a 10-year-old son studying in fifth grade at a school in Flushing, Queens, joined the call for vaccines to be promoted in schools this first month of 2021. And although he assured that an eventual closure of the schools would put him “life in squares” again, since his son already started with face-to-face classes all 5 days a week, he was in favor of ordering the closure if infections in the city continue to go above 10%.

“This is a very tough situation for everyone, not only for parents and children, but for the entire city, but we cannot start playing with fire at this point in the game. If the cases go up, you have to close again and put the kids remotely. This is serious ”, concluded the Colombian mother.

New strain of COVID and children are concerned

Leonie haimson, executive director of the organization ‘Class Size Matters’, that watches over the rights of public school students, said that before thinking about the total closure of schools, the authorities of the City and the State must continue with a continuous and very careful analysis to see how fast they are increasing infection rates in educational centers. He also highlighted that it is necessary to take into account in the equation if the new strain of COVID, which is more infectious, has taken hold in the Big Apple, since it affects children in greater numbers and criticized Cuomo’s position of wanting to keep schools open while ignoring general infections.

“The higher transmission rates of this new variant have led to the closure of all schools in the UK. I do not agree with the Governor, who argues that our schools should be kept open at any cost, as long as the infection rate in the school is lower than that of the surrounding community ”, said the activist, mentioning the possible risks for students and staff that this decision may cause.

Haimson He also insisted that in order to reach a point of equilibrium that does not put the health of school communities at risk and avoid prolonged closures, special importance should be given to implementing faster and more effective plans to apply vaccines against the coronavirus.

“We also cannot ignore how prolonged school closings harm the well-being and education of the majority of children, so I urge the State and City to accelerate vaccines and make them available to school personnel as soon as possible, which will help. to make our schools safe again ”, added the activist.

Schools and COVID-19 in numbers:

  • There are 1,800 public schools in NYC.
  • 138 school buildings were closed this week.
  • 95% of schools and early childhood care sites remain open.
  • 9.21% is the average number of infections of the 7 days in the city.
  • 6% is the average number of infections in the state.
  • 9% is the state percentage that the UFT asks to take into account to close schools.
  • 250,000 coronavirus tests have been performed.
  • 0.43% is the average number of infections in schools.


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