Williams' Statement On The Plan To Reopen NYC High Schools

March 8th, 2021

Press Release

"We all want to be able to reopen schools safely. What we do not want, and cannot have, is the existence of a vaccine creating a false sense of safety. I am apprehensive, but if re-opening schools is to move forward, it must be paired with increased vaccination for educators and strict adherence to safety standards, with a commitment to following science to protect students and parents, teachers and school staff.

It is also critical that the move to reopen schools to some students does not detract from the effort or resources needed to support and improve remote learning for the vast majority of students learning from home - throughout this past year, a focus on in-person learning for a third of students has impeded work to enhance remote education for all students. Reopening buildings will require intentional, collaborative community engagement by the city in order to renovate old systems, innovate new strategies, and rebuild confidence in our ability to enact them.

"Positivity rates are still high, new variants are emerging and vaccination rates remain relatively low, especially in communities of more color - while many high schools are currently serving as vaccination sites. We need adequate assurances from the de Blasio administration that the city will be able to reopen in a way that preserves safety and advances equity- which they have been so far unable to achieve in minimizing infection or maximizing injection. The learning loss from closing schools is real, but so too would be the loss of life if their reopening is similarly mismanaged or mistimed."

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