Local Parent Council Wants City to Delay Public School Opening

PS 166 before the pandemic.

The parent council for the Upper West Side and parts of Harlem has sent a letter to the mayor and governor asking them to delay the planned reopening of public schools on Sept. 10. Community Education Council 3 (CEC3), an elected parent group representing schools in the district, says it “stand in solidarity with colleagues from across the city” in pushing for the delay.

The city is allowing parents to choose between a fully remote schedule and a hybrid program where children would go to school in person about half the time. The Department of Education has created all sorts of rules for reopening in an attempt to keep schools safe, and they’ve bought PPE and air purifiers to reduce the risk of Covid-19. If the city’s positive Covid testing rate rises above 3% on a weekly average (it’s lately been below 1%), all schools will close. Chancellor Carranza says “health and safety always lead the way” in the system’s decisions.

But the CEC3 says that the city hasn’t done nearly enough to ensure that kids, teachers and other employees will be safe. They claim the department has “squandered these last five months, choosing to curate a political narrative, and to disseminate glossy, consultant-styled plans instead of working with stakeholders to put our children, families, teachers and staff first.”

Staff at some local schools, including MS 334 (The Anderson School), have also sent letters requesting a delay.

“We know that our families are suffering and want schools to resume some semblance of normalcy,” the letter says. “However, there are simply too many risks being taken and too many questions that remain unanswered.”

Read the full letter, which is also critical of the city’s remote learning efforts, here.

NEWS, SCHOOLS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Carlos says:

      Sending this letter less than two weeks before the scheduled start of school is too little, too late. I know that my child’s principal is working tirelessly to make this work and many parents have chosen hybrid in-person learning, and those who do not want this have a viable option as well. It is never going to be perfect. Each school should have the option to choose what works best.

      I, and many other parents, believe that in person learning is critical and I am willing to take the calculated risk to make that happen. I trust our principal to make this work. As I understand it, our teachers are on board. Please do not undermine my decision and the decisions of many other parents. If you don’t like it, choose the fully remote option.

      • Juan says:

        Totally agree. Parents have had the opportunity to vote – if you don’t feel comfortable, go fully remote. A lot of parents have chosen hybrid so clearly there is demand – no one is forcing them to choose that.

        The CEC did raise some good questions, but their ultimate demands are ridiculous. But this does not surprise me – they seem to consistently ignore the voices of their constituents. There are a few good members and the rest of them are clueless. And most of them have older kids so this doesn’t even necessarily impact them – elementary school is most impacted by this.

    2. 166parent says:

      Wow. Is this Watkins again? Talk about politically driven…

    3. Keren says:

      Not sure who this group represents but it’s not the 75% of parents who want their kids in school, at least in a blended model. The kids need to be with their age group, they are dying inside, especially the younger ones… There’s less than a 1% infection rate in the city! The schools can open! Quit with these power plays!

    4. UWSParent says:

      The officers of CEC3, especially Kimberly Watkins, are a power hungry group that doesn’t represent its constituents. I have two daughters going to school in the Upper West Side. Every parent that I know would like their children at school as much as possible. If children don’t go back to school, the parents can’t go back to the office. It’s time to stop panicking and go back to normal. Enough of the clueless ledership of Cuomo and De Blasio. Reopen NY!!

    5. Wijmlet says:

      agree–delay opening

    6. UWSParent says:

      I would like my children to go to school as many days as possible. Online is a poor substitute to in person learning. Besides that, parents need to go back to work in the office, and that can’t happen if children don’t go back to school. I am with the vast majority who chose the blended option, and so are all parents that I spoke with.

    7. UWS teacher says:

      Honestly a delay would help make sure everything is delivered and ready to go. I work in a school and the only thing delivered so far to protect kids and teachers were a few bottles of hand sanitizer and a ghostbusters germ killing spray gun. They were waiting on the 2nd stimulus bill to buy the PPE, and it didn’t go through so everything is backlogged. Many students still don’t have the proper technology devices they need. And principals hands are tied with their budgets, hiring, staffing, scheduling and more. The mayor and chancellor tried to get this stuff ready for 1 million kids but the task was just too huge and they aren’t ready. The UFT is talking strike. We have to face facts. I want my child in school— almost as much as she wants to be there. But lots of things have to be put in place.

    8. Mixmaster Mike says:

      Whether the school year starts on time, or is delayed by some number of weeks doesn’t really matter. All DoE schools will be forced to go to all virtual within a few weeks of starting.

      Why? Our school indicated that any class with a positive case is home quarantined for 2 weeks. Unrelated positive cases in more than one classroom quarantine the whole school for 2 weeks.

      What’s the likelihood of either event above? 100%. Kids are going to be walking into the schools infected and asymptomatic and you’re going to have many outbreaks at DoE schools.

      Hong Kong, which did an infinitely better job of managing the pandemic than we did, opened its schools at the end of May and was forced to close them again in mid-July because of a resurgence of the virus.

      I’d love to have my kids back in school, and we’ve chosen the hybrid option for that reason, but the realist in me understands that without control of this pandemic on a national basis there can be no sustained in-person schooling anywhere.

    9. Samuel Noel says:

      I’m a parent and a teacher. This hybrid model is not a return to normalcy. Your children will be socially distanced by 6 feet. There will be no interactions between them and their teachers must remain 6 feet apart as well. There can be no group work nor socialized learning. There is no testing/tracing regimen in place. Air filtration has been and remains a major issue. Hundreds of principals have signed petitions asking to delay reopening because they don’t have the time, teachers, and resources to make hybrid work. Childcare still needed for working parents.

    10. Samuel Noel says:

      Even if the DOE can miraculously get all of the logistical issues ready in time, there is still a major staffing shortage with smaller live classes and remote learning classes since teachers can’t do both. NYC will be mailing out 22,000 layoff notices August 31st to City employees. The severe budget cuts will force 9,000 layoffs of teachers on October 1st and remote will be the only option anyway according to Carranza. What’s the point of starting something that cannot finish?

    11. Inaya Shujaat says:

      As long as there is a GLOBAL PANDEMIC (can’t believe that parents need reminding that there is NO END IN SIGHT), my kids will NOT be going to school in person. Socializing be damned. Health and safety are far more important.

      The DOE has done very little to ensure the safety of not only our children, but also their teachers. Listen to what the teachers are saying. They’re SCARED, and for damn good reason.

      Don’t be selfish. Don’t push for the re-opening of schools.

      (Btw, my kids go to the school that is pictured here)

    12. your_neighbor says:

      If you actually look at the statistics the pandemic has been virtually eliminated in NYC. Zero to 6 deaths per day for 6+ weeks does not make for a pandemic in a city of 8 million. Normal precautions appear to have worked spectacularly.
      If some adults would rather stay at home that’s fine but it looks like the DOE is doing a good job at reopening and it is time to at least give the kids back a little bit of their normal life.

    13. UpperUWS says:

      CEC3 does not represent the UWS parents. Some of these people have no children in the public school system today; they are not elected by parents. One CEC member recently said (on the record in the meeting minutes): “if one district school cannot reopen, then no school in the district should open”. Let that sink in…

    14. Jackie says:

      Just open already. Our hospitals are functioning, we have flatten the curve and almost suppressed it. There will never be 100% safe. Life has risks and we need to deal with them. If a teacher or a child is at high risk (or a family member) they should do 100% remote. Everyone else full time at school. We need normality!

    15. Sheila says:

      Will all children,teachers and staff be required to be tested for COVID 14 days before they enter a school? Colleges are doing this to mitigate the risks and it seems logical.

      Does the city have the resources to do this?

    16. Marue says:

      The city schools are 1degree of separation. At the risk of asking anyone to do hard math.If teacher a has twin students ( one twin in teacher b’s class as well) twin in a has a student infected and their class is quarentined as is twin b’s class . But wait twin b has a classmate who’s mom is a teacher at ps 163 and their dad teaches at Styvesant – those classes get quarentined . Why would we load up our buses with our children and teacher and race head first into oncoming traffic and risk the problems the rest of the schools such as SC , GEORGIA, Florida TEXAS re having. TAke the time to train the families students staff on effective online platforms, get remote teaching materials ready. Our numbers are low BECAUSE we’ve gone slow and steady. FAce to Face should be for essential workers Special ED.

      • UWSParent says:

        You clearly don’t have children in public schools and don’t know how awful online classes were for the three and a half months from March to June.