ALBANY — The President of the New York State United Teachers has some concerns about safety and clarity in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to reopen public schools this fall.
“We have been clear all along: Health and safety is the most important consideration in reopening school buildings. Viral infection rates tell only one part of the story,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said in a press release. “Many educators and parents have anxiety about local school district reopening plans that have been submitted to the state — if they even have been yet, with 127 districts that didn’t bother to submit them by last week and 50 considered incomplete by the state.”
Pallotta said a lack of guidance on specific procedures for closure, testing and contact tracing in the event of positive tests in the schools, is concerning to teachers and parents alike.
“Right now, there may be some areas where parents and educators are confident in their district’s plan, but in many others, we know they aren’t. No district should consider themselves ready to reopen buildings until their plans are safe and everything in that plan meant to keep the school community safe is implemented,” he said. “Being safe means parents and teachers must be confident in the reopening plan, and it is welcome news that districts must meet with parents and teachers this month. We’re thankful the governor agrees that forcing people back into the classroom when they feel their health is threatened is not what should happen. So if districts need to phase in the reopening of buildings, so be it. We must err on the side of caution. Period.”