“The mayor is really engaged in this process, throughout the entire conversation,” Mulgre said at a joint news conference with De Blasio on September 1, “where we can say that we have the most aggressive policies and in any school. The system’s biggest safeguards are the “United States.”
But in a nine-minute video for UFT members posted on YouTube on Friday afternoon, Mulgrey expressed disappointment over an abundance of issues that popped up during the first week of teachers returning to school for preparation. They ranged from a poorly cleaned school building for D75 special education students, not enough personal protective equipment, and were slow on trial. He once again hinted at the possibility of stopping the city’s Department of Education from reopening public schools.
“We understand what we are responsible for,” Mugre said while addressing the DOE. “But we also know what you’re responsible for. And if you can’t do this before the kids come to the schools, we won’t let you open the school.”
This is not the first time Moolgre has threatened that the union will keep schools closed since announcing the UFT’s agreement with the city to delay opening the school. At a city council education committee on 3 September, Mulgrey said that if the school buildings were not in the best shape, they would ask their lawyers to go to the courts and temporarily reopen the restraining order.
Mulgrew described the previous week as “the worst” for teachers and cited instances where teachers refused to enter a school building over safety concerns, although they did not offer specific examples. Among those schools was IS 230 in Jackson Heights, Queens, where pictures on social media showed teachers sitting in an outdoor basketball court conducting their work to demonstrate a lack of confidence in school safety.
.@UFT Assistant teacher at IS 230 in Jackson Heights. They will work outside until they know that it is safe to return to their school after a positive positive case. Results reported, but same day testing and trace outreach. not acceptable. pic.twitter.com/7TqTrYdQfq
– UFT (@UFT) September 11, 2020
Mulgrey also said that DOE saw 22 COVID-19 cases among its staff this week, although DOE has confirmed only 19 cases, out of 15,000 tests taken by employees.
“You would think that the challenge that we are facing the city will bring their A game this week. But they did not do that,” Mulgrey said.
Although the school was closed by the third week of September, teachers were asked to return to their schools on 8 September. The city’s Department of Education spent months assessing the conditions in school buildings to see if they were safe to re-enter. The DOE brought in school ventilation action teams, consisting of engineers and ventilation experts from the School Construction Authority, to test airflow within a classroom. While the DOE said 96% of the classrooms were considered safe to occupy, at least four school buildings were deemed unsafe to reopen for 21 September.
In his message, Mulgrey stated that he feels the same feelings as some teachers have shared with him. He said, “I’m sorry it stopped because of having a therapy session with you, but I’m feeling the anger and frustration you’re feeling.”
“Send those pictures; Keep it out, because we are the only ones protecting this school system.
De Blasio spokesman Avery Cohen said the city is doing all this to ensure the safe return of students and DOL staff.
“We have worked to accelerate and facilitate testing for school-based staff across the city and pay results, with 97% of the tests coming back within 48 hours,” Cohen said. “We are committed to testing every last case of the virus, and will continue to work closely with the UFT to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to make schools safe. Our students and teachers Nothing deserves to be reduced. ”