Concerns over rescheduled vaccines for NYC teachers, rising cases in schools

Reopening Schools
coronavirus new york city schools filephoto

School staff greet students as they arrive for in-person classes outside Public School 188, The Island School, in Manhattan on Sept. 29, 2020.

NEW YORK CITY — Rising COVID-19 cases in New York City public schools are once again forcing parents and educators to grapple with remote or in-person learning.

Three-quarters of the city’s 1.1 million students are learning remotely, with a new push from “Keep NYC Schools Open” parents questioning: If Mayor Bill de Blasio says schools are so safe, why aren’t middle and high schools open?

The mayor has said the city needs to increase testing capacity and get more educators vaccinated. But the city had fewer than 7,700 COVID-19 vaccine doses on hand Tuesday morning.

First-grade teacher Sarah Allen is worried her appointment next week will be rescheduled, like most of her colleagues. She’s been in the classroom since September at PS 372, which is currently on a 10-day closure because of positive cases.

According to Princeton University researchers monitoring New York State data, there’s been a surge in positive cases among Department of Education members across New York City — on track to hit 6,000 cases this month alone. That’s double the amount of cases recorded in the first half of the school year.

The Department of Education’s COVID-19 portal, however, lists a total of 7,012 cases among staff members from September through Jan. 25.

Allen is hoping for a temporary closure, so the numbers drop. She believes working in a classroom with cracked windows for ventilation is not keeping the virus from spreading in schools.

The head of the teachers union has said teachers who aren’t vaccinated won’t be going back to classrooms in the next academic year. However, de Blasio insists educators will go back to in-person teaching in full force, telling MSNBC he has no doubt in his mind.

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