Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, argues New York City needs to have an aggressive testing and tracing policy in place if school buildings are to re-open in even a limited way in September.
Mulgrew sent this email to UFT members on Aug. 4, 2020:
Dear UFT Member,
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s current plan for reopening school buildings does not meet the safety standards our children and school staff need.
With lives in the balance, we believe that public school educators in New York City should not return to school buildings unless there are adequate protocols and procedures in place to ensure the safety and health of our school communities.
Tell Mayor de Blasio that his plan must include critical health and safety measures.
The UFT worked with the city to develop many of the safety standards included in the reopening proposal, but the mayor’s current plan falls short.
For school buildings to reopen, school communities need:
- Voluntary testing for all students and school-based staff returning for in-person instruction.
- A rolling testing regimen in every school community for adults and student volunteers to identify those infected with the virus but asymptomatic.
- The results of these tests should be available within 24 hours.
- A dedicated group of contact tracers to investigate who else has been exposed when an adult or a student in a school contracts the virus.
- A school nurse in every school building.
- Evidence that the protections and procedures outlined in the plan have been implemented, including the testing and upgrading of ventilation systems, and the necessary staff and supplies to deep clean the buildings every night.
Without these protections in place, staff and students — and the families they go home to at night — will not be safe from the coronavirus.
Please sign the petition to affirm your agreement with this approach.
Stay healthy and safe.