Mulgrew’s Letter from Press Conference

Dear UFT Member,
 We all would like to return to our classrooms in September, but New York City school buildings should not reopen unless they are safe. Medical experts and community and civic leaders joined me today at a press conference at UFT headquarters to announce a clear and transparent program of safety reviews and testing protocols designed by medical experts to safeguard the health of our students and staff.

Each New York City public school must show that it has these procedures and supplies in place – and that every adult and child in that school has been tested – before the school reopens. We are prepared to go to court or take a job action if the city tries to open a school that is unsafe.

Working with medical experts, the UFT has created a comprehensive school safety checklist, including the presence of a school nurse, a six-foot separation between student desks, sufficient masks and other protective equipment, working ventilation systems, and an isolation room for students who develop symptoms of infection at school. More than 100 union investigators have already started the process of reviewing the more than 1,400 school buildings to see if they pass the checklist. Any school that fails this review should remain off-limits to children, parents and staff until the problems are fixed.

We are also calling for antibody or COVID-19 testing for every adult and child who plans to enter a school building in the fall. We are urging both teachers and students, when possible, to immediately get a blood test to check for COVID-19 antibodies. Those who cannot demonstrate the presence of coronavirus antibodies will need to show that they have tested negative for the coronavirus itself in the 10 days before their school building reopens.

The UFT is also demanding that the city implement a robust program of intermittent, random testing of school communities, once in-person learning resumes, to detect asymptomatic spread.

You have my solemn promise that this union will do everything in its power to keep you and our school communities safe. As educators, we know that nothing substitutes for in-person learning, but we need to follow the science. If the city adopts our safety plan, no school system in the nation will have stronger health and safety protocols in place.

Stay safe and healthy.
Sincerely,  Michael Mulgrew
UFT President
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