Sept. 9, 2021 By Christian Murray
Several state legislators representing districts in Queens are calling on the schools Chancellor to provide public school students with a remote learning option.
The Queens officials signed onto a letter penned by Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz Tuesday that urges Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter to offer a remote learning option.
“We are unequivocal in our request that The New York City Board of Education provide a remote learning option before our schools open,” reads the letter, which was co-signed by Queens officials such as State Senators Joseph Addabbo and John Liu; along with Assembly Members Nily Rozic, Catherine Nolan, Brian Barnwell, Daniel Rosenthal and Jessica González-Rojas.
“We are not out of this pandemic,” the letter reads. “Parents are stressed with concern that they will be sending their children into virus infected classrooms. The obvious realities that parents and children are facing revolve around not having an approved vaccination for children 12 and under…and the tight spaces children returning to school will have to endure in classrooms.”
The letter comes about three weeks after Queens Borough President Donovan Richards also called on the Department of Education to offer a remote option. Elected officials such as Public Advocate Jumaane Williams are also urging the city to have a remote option — noting that it is needed as a backup plan.
The chancellor and mayor, however, are advocates for a full reopening — and remain opposed to offering a hybrid or remote learning option.
The mayor says the city has put in place what he refers to as the gold standard for keeping students safe.
For instance, all city school teachers must have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27. City officials said Wednesday that more than 70 percent of public school teachers have gotten at least one shot to date.
Furthermore, there will be universal masking and social distancing, as well as provisions made to ensure that there is fresh air in classrooms and common areas.
Students wishing to participate in Public School Athletic League’s high-contact sports like basketball, football and volleyball will also have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
At this point, 65 percent of 12 to 17-year-old public school students in New York City have been vaccinated, according to a DOE spokesperson Wednesday.
The city will also be providing students the ability to get the vaccine at school next week.
However, Cruz and the elected officials who signed onto her letter argue that the virus will make a return despite these precautions.
“Placing our children in environments where community spread is certain…is the wrong decision that overrides the innate instinct of parents to protect their children,” the letter reads.
The Delta variant is still a threat, teachers & families should come first! So today, our colleagues joined @jamaaltbailey & me in urging Chancellor Porter @NYCSchools & @NYCMayor to provide a remote option for our children this coming school year.
We can still get it right! pic.twitter.com/n9BMpp7m5y
— Catalina Cruz, Esq. (@CatalinaCruzNY) September 7, 2021