Pushing Back against the DOE Liars
Led by UFT Solidarity, five teachers have filed suit asking to be allowed to work from home until the threat of COVID-19 has actually passed. The overwhelming support and solidarity from fellow educators and allies in NYC and beyond has been awe-inspiring and is much appreciated. However, the DOE’s lawyers have responded in utterly predictable fashion, calling the suit frivolous and claiming that the DOE’s re-opening plan is well thought out and based on ‘sound science.’ Likely very few people reading this blog need to be convinced, but here is a handy point by point rebuttal to the lies put forth by the lawyers De Blasio has entrusted to ensure his ill conceived plan goes forward.
DOE Lawyers’ Lie #1:
The NYC re-opening plan is based on ‘sound science.’
School districts all over the country are delaying opening including Elizabeth, Newark, and Jersey City right next door. Are we seriously to believe that viruses behave differently on one side of the Hudson River versus the other?
DOE Lawyers’ Lie #2
Masks and PPE and social distancing, along with ventilators, will keep staff and students safe.
The PPE given out so far consists of one time use surgical masks, bottled hand sanitizer, and little else. Sanitizer and soap dispensers are still empty as they tend to be in DOE buildings, and these supposed ventilators are nowhere to be seen.
DOE Lawyers’ Lie #3
Teachers ‘just want to collect a salary for staying home.’
Tens of thousands of teachers worked longer hours than ever from March to June learning new methods of teaching remotely and answering endless emails and queries from students and parents. Teaching remotely is still teaching, and while no one argues it is perfect it is far preferable to starting up a second wave of deadly and debilitating COVID-19.
DOE Lawyers’ Lie #4
School re-opening is ‘now safe’ because the infection rate is only 1% and distancing and masks will keep infection rates law.
As Chalkbeat has reported, 22 teachers have already tested positive for COVID-19 since buildings have re-opened just for training. The rate has fallen to 1% precisely because dangerous indoor gatherings were stopped. Six foot social distancing is impossible in the narrow hallways, tiny classrooms, and crowded bathroom entrances of DOE schools.
Again, thank you to all who donated to the cause and have expressed their support in the effort to keep teachers, schools staff, students, and their families safe as we still live in a world without a vaccine or viable treatment for COVID-19. The outcome of the litigation is still pending, but we have already shown what we can do by getting our message out there and getting our day in court. Solidarity for all, and keep up the good fight!
-Eric Severson and the rest of UFT Solidarity