Public Advocate Responds To Closure Of NYC Schools Amid Citywide Covid-19 Spike

November 18th, 2020

Press Release

"All day today, as they have for many months, New York City's parents and principals, teachers and students waited for leadership to explain whether and when the city's public schools would be closed. While they finally have an answer, there is absolutely no leadership present.

"Whether to close schools amid an increase in COVID-19 cases was a question of science and of health. Whether to order that closure with less than sixteen hours before it would be enforced and upend the lives of people across the city is a question of common sense and sound management, neither of which has been seen today or throughout much of this pandemic. This systemic dysfunction goes far beyond the issue of a 3% threshold, and it is inflicting a trauma on the city.

"If closing schools can meaningfully slow the spread and save lives, then it is a step to consider - but today, it is one taken without caution, without knowledge of the next step, without regard for the teachers, parents, students and staff being dragged along by this brinkmanship as the achievement gap widens. As I have repeatedly implored the administration, any closure should come with re-established REC centers for students and parents in greatest need, an investment in effective remote learning, robust family outreach, and a clear-cut plan to re-open with a phased approach when science and safety dictate. People are scared and stressed, and need plans and assurances. Today, we have only executives governing by haphazard tweets and combative press conferences, from City Hall and the State Capitol to the White House.

"It has been my hope that as New York faces down a rising second wave of COVID-19, we have learned from the mistakes that led to our becoming the epicenter of the pandemic, but with each announcement, or lack of an announcement, it seems clear that our executives have not."

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