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New York City Teachers Union Head ‘Vows’ Schools ‘Won't Reopen If They Deem It Unsafe’

Published Friday, July 17, 2020
by David Cruz/The Gothamist
New York City Teachers Union Head ‘Vows’ Schools ‘Won't Reopen If They Deem It Unsafe’

(NEW YORK CITY) - Though New York City's Public School Reopening Plan was released by the city, with tweaks for a "blended model" still under way, the head of the powerful Teachers Union remains skeptical of the plan: Michael Mulgrew says any school that falls short of the Union's expectations toward safety will not reopen.

His comments came the day after Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza was grilled by parents and Teachers over whether the plan had adequate input from the very people impacted by it.

Mulgrew, the head of the United Federation Teachers (UFT) Union, told WNYC's Brian Lehrer that the UFT will do "everything in our power to make sure a school doesn't open" if their Teachers find it to be a breeding ground for the spread of COVID-19.

"We have told them if, in September, we are looking to do any sort of opening of the schools, ‘we will be doing an on-site investigation and checking off to make sure that everything is in place at that school,’" Mulgrew told Lehrer. "At this moment, ‘the odds are against us in terms of actually getting open safely on time, if at all.’"

Much of the concern for Mulgrew stems from whether school classrooms will be properly ventilated to prevent the spread.

"If ‘we don't have what's called a proper air exchange - free-flowing air - certain schools shouldn't be used at all.’  And then in ‘certain’ schools, ‘you should just eliminate a whole bunch of different classrooms,’" Mulgrew said.

Carranza said on NY1 a greater filtration system will be used to air out impurities.

Classrooms, in the meantime, will be thoroughly cleaned each night to ensure safety for the next cohort of kids, he said.

Another of Mulgrew's issues is allowing Teachers who believe their health can be compromised if they return to in-person teaching to apply for a Medical Accommodation, something he said would be honored if a Teacher between the age of 50 to 65 demonstrates they have a medical condition that makes them vulnerable to contracting the virus.

Teachers over the age of 65 can be automatically exempt, while Teachers living with immunocompromised relatives are not exempt.

More than 70 Department of Education Staffers, including Teachers, Aides and principals died during the pandemic.

Both Mulgrew and Carranza have agreed the reopening is a massive undertaking that's required all sides to lean in with a plan that's expected to be presented to the state on July 31st and approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

To Read This Labor News Story In Its Entirety, Go To: https://gothamist.com/news/nyc-teachers-union-head-vows-schools-wont-reopen-if-they-deem-it-unsafe?mc_cid=277707905e&mc_eid=5777d10816

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