Keep NYC Public Schools Open -- End the "Two Unlinked Cases" Rule

Keep NYC Public Schools Open -- End the "Two Unlinked Cases" Rule

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Dan Anziska started this petition to mayor and nyc government

Dear NYC School Leadership:

We are a group of New York City public school parents representing our children who are currently enrolled in blended learning at NYC elementary and middle schools and we demand an immediate end to the arbitrary and non-scientific COVID-related school closures. The existing rule triggers a 10-day shutdown of a school, or all schools co-located inside a building, whenever two cases of COVID are found within a seven-day period in the school community.  This rule has no effect on contagion mitigation, but has a serious deleterious impact on children, teaching staff and the surrounding community.

Significantly, this rule is hyper conservative, unscientific and one where the main objective is to close schools while harming tens of thousands of NYC kids’ educations and social and emotional welfares.  Let us consider:

·       The “two unlinked cases” rule has done nothing to reduce the rate of community spread in NYC. Not a single school district in New York State, nationwide, or the entire world has adopted the rule that two positive cases trigger a 10-day shutdown of an entire building. 

·       When school buildings are ordered closed and the entire school community is sent home, there is zero enforcement on quarantines.  Students and teachers continue to congregate across their communities, without the COVID mitigation strategies including continued testing that would be required in an open school. It is these science-based, data- supported public health measures which can keep the school community safe that are abandoned when schools are closed.

·       Arbitrary school closure ignores voluminous data which supports expert guidance from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, etc. which points to the severe consequences’ children face with the loss of in person live instruction inside school buildings. 

·       On January 13, the UFT publicly admitted that it supports this rule, against the advice of its own “doctors,” because it results in shutting down the maximum number of schools. 

The application of this rule’s extremely low threshold has resulted in significant disruption and adverse mental and educational consequences for over one thousand individual schools, and for the daily lives and education of the 190,000 pre-K through fifth grade and District 75 children and families who are subject to it.  This rule is also aimed to punish larger schools with significant blended and in school teacher cohorts, i.e., many Upper East Side schools have in excess of 500 people in their buildings on a daily basis, meaning that a 0.4% positive rate has repeatedly resulted in their schools being closed down for 10-14 days. 

The Mayor has advocated on behalf of children to safely open at least some NYC public schools.  However, various other stakeholders continue their ruthless tactics designed to keep too many schools closed and deny children of their rights to an in-person education.  Currently, all middle and high schools are closed indefinitely, with no plans to reopen (despite President Biden’s recent proclamation that all schools need to reopen). The “two unlinked cases” rule ensures that our elementary and District 75 schools will continue to unnecessarily close, upending the routines, educations, and livelihoods of the families who prefer an in-person education.

We are a motivated group who expects politicians and stakeholders to partner with us to help make the lives of all NYC children manageable during extremely challenging times. Private schools, religious schools and public elementary schools in NYC have proven to be extremely safe for all stakeholders when open full time. This is synonymous with a “Power Of Our Example” message delivered by President Biden at his inauguration. It is consistent with the experience in NY state and across the country that open schools are safe.  

Finally, we know many parents who have disembarked to local private and religious schools, or moved to surrounding areas in Westchester, Long Island, and other states because those areas do not suffer these arbitrary rules and their schools have remained open (while remaining free of COVID outbreaks).  In light of the significant long-term impact of COVID, New York City public schools are facing the loss of hundreds of thousands of students once a proper student accounting is achieved.  Faced with a budget correction to address this loss as well as the state and city’s severe long-term economic challenges, the DOE and UFT certainly needs the help of its constituents who both fund and attend NYC public schools.   

We demand the City and its stakeholders abandon the “two unlinked cases” rule and instead adopt sensible, evidence-based policies meant to keep schools open.

Sincerely,

Dan Anziska

 

 

 

 

Mayor Bill de Blasio BdeBlasio@cityhall.nyc.gov

Dr. Jay Varma jvarma@cityhall.nyc.gov

Dr. Dave Chokshi dchokshi@health.nyc.gov

Dr. Ted Long Theodore.Long@nychhc.org

Mr. Michael Mulgrew mmulgrew@uft.org

Chancellor Richard A. Carranza RCarranza@schools.nyc.gov

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!