Saturday, March 14, 2020

De Blasio Tells Students Attendance Doesn't Matter, Solves Overcrowding, Deems Students and UFT Second Class Citizens

At some point Friday the DOE declared that students would be held harmless for attendance. That's a remarkable thing, even for them. For one thing, they've persisted in saying teachers who take off, even with an accommodation, would lose days from their bank. When DOE says they put "Children First, Always," it means they put UFT Last, Always.

They don't run the school system for adults, and they make that quite clear. The thing they fail to consider is that our fondest wish for our children is that they grow up and become adults. Therefore, the "All adults can go to hell" philosophy will not ultimately help our children or students, or their children either. Politicians seem unable to think farther than which way the wind is blowing.

This is going to make it quite difficult for those of us who are crazy enough to keep coming in. How are we going to assess students who don't attend? Shall we invent online exams and projects that kids get their smart girlfriends to do for them? Online learning is a true marvel. I know a woman who does not speak English who got an online college degree in Canada. You know how you put your kids through college? Her kids put her through college, by doing all her work, and neither of them was yet out of high school.

In any case, once the memo goes out that attendance doesn't matter, the 68% we saw on Friday will seem like a crowd. Attendance will plummet to yet unexplored depths. I'll bet you dimes to dollars it goes down considerably on Monday. Teachers will continue to stay out in increasing numbers as well. How many teachers have elderly relatives who suffer from conditions that put them at advanced risk? How many teachers suffer from such conditions themselves? Not Bill de Blasio's problem. It's not overcrowded in his limo, or in Gracie Mansion, or any of his properties.

That's a large pool of people at risk, and people who live with people at risk, and they ought not to come in. I suggest the new motto should be, "When in doubt, just stay out." Better, of course, would be to close the schools as opposed of going through the charade of teaching half your class or less.  UFT has an online petition right now, and we want everyone on board. Tell your friends and neighbors. Tell parents of students. We've gotten 70,000 signatures in one day, and we're just beginning.

Cafeteria workers have been told they'd be coming in if schools were closed. The city, despite de Blasio's bluster, is preparing for that inevitability. The only question, really, is how many people at risk will get infected as a result of the mayor's intransigence. It's absolute nonsense to suggest that because no one has tested positive in a given school that no one is sick. It's far more likely that no one has been tested, full stop.

A teacher just wrote me that he spent all night in the ER with flulike symptoms for the second time this year. The hospital did not deem him worthy of Corona testing. He didn't fit the protocol. And you know what? They then informed him they didn't actually have the test on hand even if he did fit the protocol. How many people who don't fit the protocol are walking around infecting the vulnerable? Does this teacher have it? Who knows?

In my building a student whose father just came from a country on the no-no list showed a note to a counselor saying he and his family needed to quarantine. This, of course, was after he'd attended a few classes. While the boy was sent home, who knows how many of his classmates saw him first? And even if he carried nothing, how many people in an almost totally untested pool of 5,000 people in our building are carrying the virus? 10? 100? Everyone?

Who knows? Not Bill "What Me Worry" de Blasio.

I did not decide schools needed to be closed until I discovered that Broadway, MSG, and all gatherings of 500 or more were deemed unsafe. It is unconscionable that Bill de Blasio sends the 1.1 million schoolchildren in every day, along with 100,000 UFT members. Some of them have come to me in tears, freaked out about family members. Some have come to me expressing concerns about their own weakened conditions. And some are coming in anyway, for various and utterly predictable reasons I won't share here.

Again, sign our petition, and tell the mayor to come to his senses. Every day he does his Hamlet act, more lives are potentially lost. "Let's hope for the best," is not precisely the best plan. In fact, it's not a plan at all.
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