Tuesday, January 4, 2022

COVID and NYC Public Schools

United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew holds a press conference outside of PS347 alongside our Chapter Leader, Michael Nappi. 

The Omicron variant is taking a bite out of New York City public schools. Everyday we get updates about classroom closures, quarantines, and changing protocols. The Department of Education (DOE) and the UFT are doing everything they can to keep schools open. It is certainly an ongoing challenge. 

A concern at the moment is that teachers are "dropping like flies" (as my friend Maria says). As educators test positive and isolate, schools are threatened with understaffing. If the positivity rate continues to increase there may be no other choice but to go remote. It is an option being fought at every turn.

To address this issue, and others, UFT President Michael Mulgrew held a press conference outside of our school yesterday morning. He outlined the new procedures, which include increased testing for teachers and students, the distribution of home testing kits, and a beefed-up situation room to test and trace.

Quarantine and isolation are basically a thing of the past for those in close contact with someone who has tested positive (that's where the home testing kits become key in determining safety). Folks with symptoms also rely on the rapid tests in order to judge whether or not they can return to school. 

Our Dean of Students, John Marro, takes students' temperatures as they arrive on the first day back after holiday break, Monday, January 3, 2022.

I feel sometimes like I've walked through a minefield and have successfully navigated my way across dangerous terrain, but a misstep is bound to happen. I am vaccinated and boostered, covered in hand sanitizer (or "hanitizer" as the kids say), masked, and distanced. But, I'm also working with kindergarten children who have a casual relationship with masks, like to hug, and often place little fingers in little mouths and noses. That and a four-hour daily commute on public transportation gives one pause. Although, I am somehow not making myself crazy over any of it. 

This too shall pass. 


Steve Reed said...

Don't make yourself crazy. At some point, there's nothing more we can do, right? I'm kind of in the same boat, working in a school library. It's probably inevitable, particularly with the highly contagious Omicron, that we're all going to come up positive at some time or another. We just have to hope our boosters and Omicron's apparently milder nature will work in our favor. Crazy times!

Gary said...

Steve, I am oddly calm about it all. It's not like me at all :). It seems you have similar views and are in a similar position. We can do all we can do and that is all we can do. The rest will come as it comes. (I'm responding very early in the morning. Does any of this make sense?) Stay well, be safe.


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