New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced that public schools would remain open amid increasing coronavirus cases, in a move defying teachers’ unions.
“We want to be extremely clear. The safest place for our children is in a school building, and we are going to keep our schools open,” Adams said at an elementary school on Monday.
“We want to be extremely clear. The safest place for our children is in a school building. And we are going to keep our schools open …”
— NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D) pic.twitter.com/GcMJOXpWI9
— The Recount (@therecount) January 3, 2022
Adams’s decision is aligned with his predecessor, former Mayor William de Blasio, who announced a plan to reopen schools with additional protocols in his final week in office.
“I know there are questions about staffing. I know there are questions about testing. But we’re going to change those question marks to an exclamation point. We’re staying open,” said Adams.
Although de Blasio’s plan was unveiled last week, The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) asked Adams to delay in-person classes for one week. The UFT’s concerns about returning to schools were due to potential staffing shortages caused by the coronavirus.
“Our concern is staffing for the next couple days, because we don’t know what’s going to happen today in terms of the number of adults who are going to go to work, because we know that this variant is quite pervasive,” said UFT president Michael Mulgrew.
Only one public school in New York City elected not to hold classes this week. P.S. 58 in Carroll Gardens was not open Monday because of staffing shortages.
However, Adams’s School Chancellor, David Banks, who vowed to overhaul the city’s “fundamentally flawed” school system, is not yet worried about staffing issues.
“”We’re monitoring all the staffing issues,” Banks said. “All indications are that we’re in a pretty good place right now, and we’ll make any adjustments that are necessary.”
As part of the conditions for keeping schools open, coronavirus testing among students will be increased. Twenty percent of vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff will be tested at random. Previously just 10 percent of unvaccinated students were tested at random.
There is no testing mandate yet, but officials encouraged individuals to get tested before entering campuses.
Additionally, Adams altered the schools’ quarantine rules. When a student tests positive, the rest of the class will receive rapid at-home tests. An asymptomatic student may return to class the day after a negative test result.