NEW YORK — New York City Councilman and education committee chairman Mark Treyger said he has serious concerns about attendance following the first week of school.
Treyger joined PIX on Politics host Dan Mannarino on Sunday to discuss the city’s handling of schools reopening amid a surge in cases spurred by the more contagious delta variant of COVID-19. He said while Mayor Bill de Blasio has praised the 82% attendance rate on the first day of classes on Monday, in a population of about 1 million, the figure shows that roughly 200,000 students did not show up for school.
“To give you bigger context, that’s the entire size of the Houston School District,” he said. “I have kids in my district who still have not come in because of concerns, because their parents still cannot vaccinate their young kids, because there’s no vaccine for kids under 12. Families deserve [a remote] option. I agree that in-person instruction is important; there’s no equivalent … but we need to give families the option. We’re still in a pandemic with a more contagious variant.”
Treyger also criticized the city’s testing program in schools and suggested the reason COVID cases were confirmed among students and staff in the first week was because they proactively got tested.
The Department of Education reported a total of 812 COVID cases — 487 students and 325 staff members — had been confirmed in the first week of the academic year.
More than 370 individual classes were shut down due to COVID cases and an East Harlem school was forced to close and pivot all students to remote learning until Sept. 28.
Treyger also expressed concern about schools not meeting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of keeping a 3-foot social distance to help prevent the spread of COVID.
“It is just not happening in many schools. The administration needs to be honest about this. It is just happening,” he said.
Additionally, the councilman called on the city to release numbers on how many of its students are vaccinated as well as how many were given permission to receive full-time remote instruction due to medical exemption.