'Our schools have become unsafe.' Parents, teachers urge NYC to take measures to protect students amid COVID surge
Parents and educators are calling on New York City to take measures to keep public schools safe amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Dozens of parents and teachers gathered in front of the United Federation of Teachers for what they called a “Rally for Safety.”
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As of Sunday, New York City’s seven-day COVID-19 rate is over 31%. According to the United Federation of Teachers, every one in five New York City public school staff members and every one in 14 students have tested positive for COVID-19 since mid-December.
The group of parents and teachers at the rally say they are fed up with the city's response to the pandemic and are pushing for the city to take certain steps. These measures include using KN-95 masks in schools, a short-term transition to remote learning and an immediate remote-learning option for students and families.
They are also pushing for what they called universal weekly COVID-19 testing, increased testing availability at schools, more data transparency, a mandatory quarantine for those exposed to the virus, ventilation fixes on campuses and more.
Rally participants say that if professional sports and Broadway can shut down due to the recent spike in cases, then schools can, too.
New York City Public Schools special education teacher Jia Lee says it’s time that the city listened to educators who are on the front lines.
“We feel like we could be safe in our buildings if they listened to our families...if they listened to our staff saying we need universal testing before entering the building,” she says. “We want to be in the building. The best place for teaching and learning is in person. We know this, but without that, our schools have become unsafe."