NYC Mayor de Blasio unveils Back-to-School Pledge amid reopening debate

New York City schools are planning to reopen with a mix of in-class and remote learning

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Friday, August 21, 2020
Mayor de Blasio unveils Back-to-School Pledge amid reopening debate
CeFaan Kim has the latest on the raging debate on the reopening of New York City schools.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- With just three weeks to go until the first day of public school in New York City, many questions about this academic year still remain unanswered.

The president of the United Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers' unions in the nation, is going head-to-head with Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying it's still unsafe to open schools.

WATCH: UFT president lays out teachers' proposal for reopening NYC schools

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, lays out the union's proposals for reopening NYC public schools.

The mayor responded Thursday morning by announcing, along with Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, what he is calling the city's Back-to-School Pledge outlining the city's safety and health commitments to students, parents, and the school community prior to the start of the school year.

Full details of the pledge are listed at this end of this article.

WATCH: Mayor de Blasio announces NYC's Back-to-School Pledge

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the city's pledge regarding safety and health commitments to students, parents, teachers and staff as schools reopen.

The teacher's union criticism and the mayor's response comes as many colleges are running into problems as students return to campus.

In New York City, NYU is accepting students from around the country and around the world, and they are holding classes in person.

The school has set up a tent outside the business school for mandatory COVID testing.

The president of one of the largest teachers' unions in the nation is going head-to-head with Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying it's still unsafe to open schools.

All students, faculty and staff have to get a test, and any student traveling from a high-risk state must quarantine for 14 days. The university says it also has a contact tracing team in place to contain any outbreaks.

RELATED: This is what Dr. Anthony Fauci is saying about reopening schools

Uptown at Columbia University, undergraduate classes are happening completely online.

That's after some other universities, including UNC Chapel Hill and Notre Dame, had to abruptly cancel in person gatherings after seeing an immediate spike in cases.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says it's a lesson learned.

"Look at that, and then look at your school reopening plan," he said Wednesday. "And how would you make sure that you don't wind up in that situation? What was your testing procedure? Could it have gotten that big, that fast?"

During a teleconference, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo explains why we are nowhere near the end of the pandemic.

Regarding New York City public schools, the teachers' union is now demanding, among other things, that everyone entering a school building on September 10 get a COVID or antibody test.

Mayor de Blasio's spokeswoman called the demands "fear mongering," noting the transmission rate in the city is now the lowest it's ever been.

The city's re-opening plan calls for a mix of in-person and remote learning with students taking turns in classrooms when they return, but more than a quarter of students have decided to go with the all-remote option instead.

The union says if teachers don't feel safe on Day One, they just won't show up.

RELATED | NJ Gov. Murphy clears schools to reopen, allows remote learning amid teacher shortage

Here are the details of the city's Back to School Pledge:

*PPE and cleaning supplies will be supplied to all schools, and DOE will have a 30-day supply on hand at all times-with a hotline for principals to call for immediate resupply for their schools
*There will be a full-time nurse in every public school building
*Any school building or room found to have inadequate ventilation will not be used by students or staff
*Students and staff will practice physical distancing in all school buildings
*Students and staff will wear face coverings throughout the school day; if they do not have them, they will be provided for free
*Students will remain in pods for as much of the day as possible
*We will place hand sanitizer in every classroom
*City-run testing sites will prioritize free COVID testing and expedited results for school staff; free testing is also available to all students, families, and New Yorkers citywide
*We are encouraging all DOE employees to be tested monthly
*NYC Department of Health and Test + Trace Corps will immediately investigate confirmed cases to prevent spread of the virus
*Schools will communicate with all students and families when there are confirmed cases in schools
*When necessary, classrooms or school buildings will temporarily close to maintain safety of school communities and prevent spread of the virus
*School buildings will close if the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in New York City is 3% or more using a 7-day average-the most aggressive threshold in the nation

NYC Public Schools will be cleaned and disinfected, day and night:

*All school buildings will be disinfected overnight, every night
*High-touch zones will be cleaned multiple times throughout each day
*Electrostatic disinfectors will clean surfaces daily with zero physical contact

Students will be learning five days a week, no matter what:

*Whether in-person or online, students will study in supportive environments with rigorous academic standards
*Remote students will interact with their teachers every day
*Student schedules-both remote and in-person-will be preset and consistent to allow families to plan
*Academic instruction will integrate social-emotional learning and trauma-informed care to support students holistically
*Teachers will have time each day to engage one-on-one with students and families


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