Mayor Bill de Blasio is making a fair show of reopening city schools, but the reality is another story entirely.
Local Catholic and private schools have been doing in-person instruction since September with no signs of significant outbreaks. Meanwhile, about 70 percent of public-school students are still remote-only, because . . . Why?
It’s nice that 25,000 students signed up for in-person learning in the first two days after de Blasio reopened the opt-in window. But that’s a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands stuck in remote-world, falling further behind every day.
Notice that the city announced an opt-in deadline of April 7 for families wanting in-person learning but hasn’t yet set an actual return date for these kids.
De Blasio defends the delay, citing “a lot of details to work out” — which has to mean getting the United Federation of Teachers on board, because that’s the only significant difference between public schools and all those been-open-six-months private and Catholic schools.
Heck, “opened” New York City public schools are all too often not very open. Protocols insisted on by the UFT have closed hundreds of public-school buildings (which can mean multiple actual schools) for up to two weeks at a time, simply because of a couple of positive tests. And some “in person” classes are led by teachers who are still remote.
UFT boss Mike Mulgrew refuses to simply waive those re-closing rules. Indeed, he won’t even accept the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that cut school social-distancing requirements from 6 feet to 3 feet.
Scientific study after study shows that open schools are not COVID-transmission hot spots. Younger kids almost never get the virus; with vaccinations moving rapidly, and educators at the head of the line for jabs, adults in schools are as safe as anyone. But many of Mulgrew’s members don’t want to go back, so he claims to see real dangers.
The union’s anti-science fear campaign has even convinced some administrators. Principal Michael Athy of Bayside HS actually wrote parents pushing them to stick with remote-learning because of the imagined perils.
“New York City does not have the authority to change its policy for public schools on its own,” crows Mulgrew to his members. If de Blasio and new Chancellor Meisha Porter really cared about the kids losing ground every day they’re stuck in remote classes, they’d be calling out the UFT boss’ outrageous games — not enabling them.