With NYC school year half over, teachers union still worries about COVID-19 testing, vaccinations

Reopening Schools

NEW YORK CITY — January has become the worst month for COVID-19 deaths in America since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University, but despite the grim statistics,the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said schools should be open as long as safety protocols are in place.

Wednesday was the halfway point for the New York City school year and teachers union head Michael Mulgrew said that if teachers aren’t vaccinated, they won’t be going back to the classroom anytime soon.

According to state data, New York City’s positivity rate is currently hovering under 6%.

Right now, the city is struggling to keep up with testing capacity for open schools, including elementary and special needs schools, according to Mulgrew.

“We need to know who is opting in and then start scheduling schools for this coming September,” Mulgrew said.

Even with that, the city could still see remote learning and schools closed because of positive cases, he added.

The mayor said we need to make more progress with a vaccine and beating back sheer numbers of new cases and new variance. He also said he wants to expand testing capacity. De Blasio said he’d like to see middle school students return to classrooms as soon as possible.

The mayor will be offering guidance for what the middle school reopening will look like in February.

The CDC said schools can reopen as soon as possible as long as students and school staff continue social distancing and mask wearing. Researchers have said the same type of worrisome outbreaks we see in nursing homes are not happening in our schools. The adverse effects on student mental health, academic progress and development outweigh the risks.

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