UFT President Michael Mulgrew issued a statement recommending to Mayor Bill de Blasio that New York City public schools close to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.
“We recommend that New York City follow the example of affected jurisdictions around the region, the nation and even the world and close our public schools.
We don’t suggest this lightly. We understand the immense disruption this will create for our families. But right now more than a million students and staff crisscross the city every day on their way to schools, putting themselves and others at risk of exposure and increasing the likelihood of bringing exposure into their homes and communities.
Many local area schools, religious and public, have already closed, as have schools in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school system, as well as the District of Columbia, and the entire states of Michigan, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Oregon. The schools of entire countries have been closed to help contain the spread of the virus.
We must find ways to keep our children safe and to see that they are fed. We must do all we can to help ensure that our students can continue to learn. But we have reached the point where continuing to keep our classrooms open poses a greater lasting threat than the disruption that will result from school closings.
I have met with the Mayor and outlined our reasons for urging a shutdown. He believes the schools should stay open, though he has agreed to a number of additional safeguards and accommodations. In the end, we have decided to respectfully disagree."