Parents, teachers protest overcrowded classrooms across New York City

CORONA, Queens (WABC) -- Teachers and parents rallied in protest of overcrowded classrooms outside one of the largest public elementary schools in the nation on Thursday.

The protest was held outside of PS 19 in Corona, Queens -- which was also one of the city's previous COVID hot spots.

The rally was among 200 held this week at schools across New York City by the United Federation of Teachers union.

They want the City Council to vote and pass a bill that would change the city's health code to set capacity limits on the number of students taught in city classrooms based on square footage.

About 1,700 students attend PS 19, which teaches pre-K to grade five.

Each class size is at the legal limit of 32 students for grades one through five. If passed into law, the new bill would bring the class size down to the low 20s.



"I attended this school in first grade and it's been over 30 years now and it hasn't changed, back then it was 32 students to a class, now there's more students to a class, 34, and given the pandemic, it should've been lowered," parent Euregedice Galicia said.

COVID-19 variants, like the newly discovered omicron, are a constant fear for parents like Galicia.

Her child attended the school at a time when Corona, Queens, was once the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the United States.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew says aside from being a problem with safety, oversized classes are also an equity issue.

"Why is it that the children in NYC are sitting in classes that are 30 percent more crowded than the rest of the state," Mulgrew said.

The City Council has not decided on a date to vote on the bill. That's why parents and teachers say they're applying pressure.

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