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Mayor agrees to weekly COVID testing in schools

Questions need to be answered on new student quarantine policy
The following email was sent from UFT President Michael Mulgrew to all DOE-employed members: 

 

Ever since the mayor announced in late August that the city planned to only do biweekly COVID testing this school year, the UFT has been prodding the city to hire more testing teams to continue the weekly testing that kept our school communities safe last school year.

This morning, the mayor finally acquiesced and announced that starting on Sept. 27, the city will begin weekly testing in all schools — elementary, middle and high school.

The mayor also announced a change in quarantine policy for schools based on current CDC guidance. Under this new policy, which would also take effect on Sept. 27, students who are masked and three feet apart will NOT have to be quarantined if a positive COVID case is reported in their class.

We understand the need for consistent in-person learning for our students, especially after such a tumultuous year and a half. However, our school system, the largest in the nation, faces a unique set of challenges that the mayor — in his typical fashion — has not thought through in his rush to announce a new policy. He needs to have a plan and do the work surrounding this policy to ensure that our students can be kept safe.

The mayor continues to demonstrate that he does not know what it’s like inside our schools. But we do. He should have consulted with us — the people doing the work. We urge you to direct your questions about the new quarantine policy to him and demand that he answer them.

Here are just a few of the MANY questions we are demanding the city answer before Sept. 27:

  • Does the new quarantine policy apply to classrooms that are not able to adhere to the 3-foot rule?
  • Does it apply to cafeterias where students either don’t have pre-assigned socially-distanced seats or don’t stay in them?
  • What’s the procedure for teachers to report when students aren't wearing their masks correctly?
  • Will our members be asked by the test-and-trace team if their students consistently and correctly wore their masks? Will the test-and-trace teams return to schools three days after a known exposure and retest all students in that class?
  • Will full classrooms ever be closed? If so, what will be the criteria for closing them?
  • Will parents and families still be notified of positive cases in their school or their child’s class?
  • Will parents have the option to quarantine their children if they wish when their child’s classmate tests positive for COVID but their child isn’t considered a “close contact”?

Hold the mayor accountable by emailing him your questions at bdeblasio@cityhall.nyc.gov and cc: the union at quarantinequestions@uft.org. (Please note, this email address should not be used to send your school-related issues to the union.)

To report issues to the UFT directly regarding 3-foot distancing and mask policies related to quarantine, call 212-331-6311.

We are prepared to do what we must to keep our schools safe, and together we will demand that the city does its part.