PS/IS 276 Teachers Unite Against Opening School on September 10

The empty lobby of P.S./I.S. 276. The school's staff would like to see the building remain closed on Sept. 10, the day the city has mandated that schools will reopen. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Aug. 14, 2020

Teachers and other staff from P.S. 276 in Battery Park City have united behind a public effort to delay the scheduled Sept. 10 reopening of New York City public schools.

An Aug. 14 “open letter” to the Trib and other media, signed by 59 staff members, called on staff and principals from District 2 and around the city to “stand together in voicing our concerns for the safety of all students and educators.” The letter echoes one signed by principals in Brooklyn’s District 15. Unions reprenting principals, teachers and nurses also have opposed the reopening of classrooms on Sept. 10.

The letter claims the Department of Education’s plan for “blended learning,” a combination of in-classroom and remote instruction, poses “significant risks, both physically and emotionally,” for staff and students. The DOE’s extensive safety requirements, the letter said, “will create a school environment that will be anxiety-inducing for all involved.”  

“While we are privileged with a new school building and a full-time outstanding nurse,” the letter states, “there are numerous neighborhoods with higher rates of COVID transmission, and schools that still do not have nurses.” (On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio announced the city would ensure that a nurse will be in every school.)

According to a DOE survey, 72 percent of parents want to send their children back to school if safety measures are in place and about a quarter of students and families said they prefer remote learning every day.

De Blasio said the city has been addressing the concerns raised by teachers and school administrators and “we have a whole month till school opens and we're going to do a lot more."

Teachers “understand theres just no way to serve our kids as well, remotely as when theyre in the classroom, and even if theyre in the classroom a few days a week,” de Blasio told reporters on Wednesday. “Theyre going to get so much more support, and Im not just talking about academically, Im talking about emotionally, Im talking about mental and physical health, Im talking about food.”

A request by the Trib to interview individual signers of the P.S./I.S. 276 letter was declined. 

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