NYC Public Advocate's Statement On School Attendance And Staffing Shortages

January 4th, 2022

Press Release

"Amid the ongoing pandemic, it's critical that students in our city have the ability to effectively learn in a safe environment. Many students, parents, teachers and staff are concerned that those standards may not be adequately met at this moment, as both the preliminary attendance numbers and anecdotal evidence across the city show. As we approach what may be the Omicron variant's peak, with increased hospitalizations across the state, questions of increased safety risk and educational effectiveness continue to be raised.

"As we push forward we must do so recognizing, responding, and adapting to the scale of the issue. We needed mandatory testing – which the city does have the authority to implement – prior to returning to classrooms, and we need it even more urgently now. Expanded vaccination efforts in schools are also essential.

"It’s crucial that we have all the tools we need to meet this surge. Prior to the winter break, the previous administration had refused to establish the infrastructure needed for a potential temporary remote shift or even a remote option, despite nearly two years of calls to at least have a plan in place. Now, the new administration needs to prepare immediately to have these measures available, and when the situation on the ground and in our classrooms calls for it, be unafraid to use them. We must continually remember that the results of whatever action we take will not be felt for days, and act accordingly to mitigate harm."

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