New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta released the following statement today regarding the reopening of New York’s schools:
“Health and safety of students, families, educators and other school staff, and equitable access to a high-quality education must be the top priorities in reopening schools. The federal government’s demands that schools reopen without concern for health, safety, and equity are simply out of touch. Thankfully here in New York, we know the governor, the Regents, and fellow education stakeholders are taking this seriously. Our work with them continues, and while the intricate details of reopening may be complex and differ from school district to school district, there are simple points we believe must be addressed:
- School districts must have personal protective equipment available for every student and staff member to use as appropriate.
- Cleaning and disinfecting protocols must be in place, pursuant to the recommendations of relevant health experts.
- Six feet of social distancing must be required inside school buildings.
- Accommodations must be available for students and staff who are at higher risk for contracting this illness to ensure they can limit their exposure.
- School districts must ensure they have adequate mental health services to address the psychological impacts of this pandemic on students.
- There must be equitable access to a well-rounded education for every student, regardless of what reopening looks like. That means core academic subjects, arts, music, social services, and other school services, and the technology to access those things remotely as necessary must be available no matter a student’s ZIP code.
“We need two things to make all of this a reality. First, parents and school staff must have a seat at the table locally to work out the details that are best for their communities. Second, we need the federal and state funding that absolutely will be necessary to do this safely and equitably. This isn’t a matter of whether we can do this right. We must.”
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services, and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.