This is our daily update following the reopening of NYC schools for Friday, November 6th, 2020.
Here's the latest:
- Cuomo Will Ease Restrictions In Some NYC Hotspots
- Do you have a tip or story to share about schools reopening in NYC? Send us an email at email@example.com (we can keep you anonymous)
A week after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced schools in New York’s red zones could reopen if they promised to meet new testing requirements, 45 schools in Brooklyn falling under the city Department of Education remain closed, and city officials are not saying when they might reopen.
“There’s not a single update to anybody,” said a Marine Park father named George who was not comfortable giving his last name. “We’ve tried contacting the mayor’s office; we’ve tried contacting the DOE. We’ve tried contacting our council members, who sometimes know less than we do.”
George has two daughters who go to schools in red zones, areas with a positivity rate above 3%. He said his youngest daughter, who’s four, has a learning disability and is struggling to stay focused on up to six zoom classes a day. “We have to drag her to join a zoom call every 30 minutes, every single day, five days a week,” he said.
The city Department of Education did not answer Gothamist/WNYC’s questions on Friday about plans for the red zone schools.
The governor’s office said schools could reopen to students who tested negative for the coronavirus last Monday, as long as they agree to test 25% of the school community every week. Officials said private and parochial schools have reopened. Some religious schools never closed.
City Councilmember Mark Treyger, who chairs the council’s education committee, said he’s baffled by the lack of communication. “There’s been literally radio silence from the [de Blasio] administration about what this means for school communities,” said Treyger. “No one is providing us any updates about where things stand.”
Treyger said “at a minimum” education officials need to convene a virtual meeting with parents and educators to provide an update and take questions.
In a statement, State Senator Andrew Goundardes — whose Brooklyn district still has closed schools — said the closures exacerbate educational inequities.
"While many private and parochial schools sprang into action, the NYC Department of Education has not taken steps to open and has remained typically uncommunicative,” he said. “Families are sick and tired of the discrepancies between the city and state being hashed out in public, with our kids stuck in the middle.”
Principals’ Union Makes Deal For No Layoffs and Deferred Payments
Following a similar deal with teachers, the New York City union representing public school leaders agreed to defer some payments owed by the city to its members in order to address New York City’s fiscal crisis.
Instead of getting a full lump sum payment due to principals and administrators in February, members of the The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) will receive half in February and half in November. In return, Mayor Bill de Blasio said there would be no layoffs through June of 2021. The decision follows a similar move the United Federation of Teachers made with de Blasio last month.
CSA president Mark Cannizzaro said members were pleased with the deal, pointing to the impact Covid-19 pandemic has had on school leaders this year. They had to coordinate logistics around schedules, staffing, testing protocols, and building safety as they closed schools in the spring and then faced intense pressure to open them this fall.
“Like many throughout our city, our school leaders are contending with the most challenging year in their careers as they work tirelessly to keep students safe and provide the highest quality education possible,” he said.
The payment due in February was the last installment of retroactive pay negotiated with the city shortly after de Blasio came to office. The administration agreed to the back pay to cover raises members would have received during the Bloomberg Administration after their contract expired.
The mayor said the deferred payment of $45 million would help the city address its budget gap in the current fiscal year, with the hope of a federal stimulus package coming soon to cover the city’s future shortfalls as a result of the pandemic.