NYC school principals warn parents DOE COVID situation room is overwhelmed as cases surge

Local News

NEW YORK — With 10 New York City schools closed and dozens more under investigation, the Situation Room in charge of COVID has been overwhelmed, some schools officials warned Tuesday.

Some schools are deciding, on their own, to go remote to protect their students amid the spread of the omicron and delta variants of coronavirus.

Parent Lilah Mejia had three kids in schools and, after she received emails from all three principals warning fo COVID surges, she kept her kids home.

“My kids are not in school because of the cases and also because the Situation Room is backed up,” Mejia said.

Michael Mulgrew, president of the union representing teachers, said the city needs to be doing more to keep people safe.

“It’s become increasingly clear over the past 10 days that the COVID testing system in schools and the city’s Situation Room are no longer functioning at an acceptable level,” he said. “The children and communities don’t care about the upcoming change in administrations. It’s up to the city to help keep them safe from this virus now.”

University Neighborhood Middle School thanked families in an email for self-reporting COVID cases and said, for this week, they would mark students who stayed home and accessed Google classrooms present instead of absent.

Tompkins Square Middle school told families that because of the delay in contact tracing, all classes with positive cases would be remote.

The United Federation of Teachers union called more more testing, an increase in test-and-tracing staff and clear criteria for schools going remote.

When the kids return from their upcoming break, a new mayor and schools chancellor will be calling the shots.

For now, a Department fo Education spokesperson said there’s an “arsenal of resources” to support schools.

“Our system is built to easily adapt to the ever-changing circumstances of this pandemic and our principals make decisions that best support the unique needs of their communities,” the spokesperson said. “Our schools continue to be safe thanks to our multi-layered approach to health and safety, and we have over 24,000 substitute teachers and substitute paraprofessionals ready to support schools to have full continuity of high-quality learning.”

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