At least 16 teachers in 16 different schools have tested positive for coronavirus as they prepare for the start of the school year in New York City public schools, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew confirmed Wednesday.
Mulgrew, who has been vocal in his criticism of the city’s education plan for the upcoming school year, sounded the alarm bells about its ability to keep teachers safe.
"The result comes to us 24 to 48 hours. Test and Trace kick in and all the protocols, they kick into place. They are not able to do that at this point,” Mulgrew said. “So again, we have until next Friday, and if next Friday we don't see evidence that's ready to work, then we're going to have a problem opening the schools on the 21.”
Teachers started reporting to schools this week to prepare for the start of classes, set for September 16, albeit remotely. Students are scheduled to begin in-person classes September 21, after Mayor Bill de Blasio delayed the start of the school year, originally set for the 10th, after teachers threatened to strike, citing concerns schools would not be ready in time.
Teachers at a middle school in Brooklyn, M.S. 88 in Park Slope, also said there was a lack of communication after a colleague tested positive for the virus.
The faculty penned an open letter claiming that teachers who came in close contact with the teacher who tested positive were not contacted by Test and Trace, a public health initiative to track and fight the spread of COVID-19.
They say that while the principal and staff at the school are doing all they can to maintain safety, “the inaction and incompetence from the city and state are making it increasingly difficult to do so."