Jennifer Goddard’s son, 10-year-old August Huete, has asthma. Because he is not eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 she’s afraid of sending him to school Monday with no remote option.
“I will not let him go into a school building that is overcrowded, to take his mask off during cafeteria lunch. None of that is going to happen to my child,” said Goddard.
“I want to see my friends, I want to see my teachers. I want to grow up and I want to have education, but at the same time it's not worth my life,” said Huete.
That’s why she and August joined other parents and city workers at a rally outside City Hall Sunday. They are calling on the mayor to give students and the city’s workforce a remote and telework option as the delta variant continues to cause a surge in COVID cases here in the city.
“Now we're seeing that children across the country are getting sick and now there’s even less options for us. The virus has changed, delta is different,” said Goddard.
School begins Monday, and unlike last year, students in the city’s public school system will not be given an option for remote learning. Students will not be mandated to get inoculated. Teachers have until September 27 to get the shot. The mayor has also ordered city workers to return to the office full-time by Tuesday.
“We can’t put city workers' lives at risk. You can’t put profits over people. We’ve been working remotely successfully for 18 months,” said Josh Barnett, an architect for NYCHA. “Everybody’s safety is paramount. We need to keep going until the pandemic is over.”
Some parents who spoke at the rally say they are considering not sending their children to school; However, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter recently announced that if a parent is depriving their child of an education, the Administration for Children’s Services, or ACS, could get involved.
“There is no greater responsibility of a parent than to keep their kids safe,” said CEO of Parents Supporting Parents NY Tanesha Grant. “Parents, would you send your child into a burning building? Than why would we send them into a superspreader that we see is about to happen.”
As they rallied outside City Hall they hoped their message was loud and clear.
“Please, hear us out and offer us what we had last year,” said Goddard.
A City Hall spokesman said in response to the rally, in part, “We know how to make workplaces safe, and public servants can deliver more for New Yorkers when they’re working together. City workers will have all the resources they need to complete this final step safely.”