Educators Call on NYC Officials to Immediately Act for Equitable Resource Allocation.
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Educators call on Mayor Deblasio, Chancellor Carranza, Public Advocate Williams, NYC Council members, and all elected officials to activate an immediate COVID-19 exposure response.
Educators, staff, and school safety agents were exposed to COVID at many large high school campuses and they are fearful for their lives. Tragically, our city has already lost a valued community member; a principal has died from complications from the virus. Elected officials in Brooklyn are demanding temporary hospital sites, while those in the Bronx are demanding that the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx be transformed into a hospital site to bring equitable access to health resources, responsive to the particular needs of high-risk residents in the boroughs who have been exposed to COVID-19.
Two weeks ago educators at Grace Dodge Campus were exposed to COVID 19. Even after staff reported their test results to administrators, the schools failed to close for the 24 hour cleaning. Many other large campuses across the city were also found to have been exposed. Educators organized and built allies with community groups to highlight the issue of thousands of people who may be vectors of the disease and potential hosts. Organizers demanded mobile labs to be activated at the Grace Dodge Campus and Alfred E. Smith. There have been reports that the Roosevelt Campus recently had a student with exposure while building occupants were unaware.
The Bronx is burning: stories of educators who experienced exposure are leaking out slowly because of patterned gag orders from DoE higher ups and fear of retribution.
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Today educators demand:
INFORM- DoH and DoE must deliver official notice to ALL families where community members tested COVID-19 positive and schools were not closed, along with an official apology for such negligence at all schools with exposures.
RESOURCE- NYC Council Dept Chairs of Education and Health must immediately create an action plan specific to COVID-19 exposure in the outer boroughs to respond to health disparities that will inevitably be amplified by the COVID-19 outbreak. We need basic and health-related resources allocated to the outer boroughs. Open a Brooklyn temporary hospital and the Kingsbridge Armory for access to care for students, their families and staff who may have been exposed at the schools and are now seeking treatment. COVID-19 response resources, including supplies and testing, must be distributed equitably across the boroughs to ensure health justice, with special attention to Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, our most health-challenged regions.
FUND- NYC Council Dept Chair of Education must demand appropriate budget allocations to avoid future work-place and learning environment conditions that encourage similar community spread. Our schools also need basic and health-related resources to ensure healthy and safe working and learning conditions. Nurses must be permanent in all DoE schools, schools must be equipped with basic sanitary needs like toilet paper and soap, and old school buildings must be repaired.
PROTECT- school-based staff (SSA, cafeteria, educators) at enrichment centers must be provided proper protective gear and supplies. Any school-based staff currently in attendance at the building must be provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and includes all custodial/School Safety Agents/ DOE staff at enrichment centers. This is a mandate from CDC.
RESTORE- DoE must retroactively deem 3/13 through 3/19 “non attendance days,” adopt a no-penalty policy toward staff absences during this period (No CAR day loss). This is reasonable in light of schools remaining open after DoH-confirmed reports of COVID-19 on campus such as LaGuardia HS, Alfred E. Smith, Grace Dodge, and the Roosevelt campus. Students and staff rightfully distrusted the inadequate DoH and DoE response to the presence of the virus on campuses.
ADVOCATE- The Public Advocate immediately should issue a statement echoing these demands and call on the DoE to stop issuing gag orders on employees so that their freedom of speech is respected in the vein of public health and national security. School-based employees have called on superiors including NYC Chancellor, Dept. of Health, 311, Bronx elected officials and received a “business as usual” response! Unethically, school-based staff concerns are met with threats of disciplinary action. Bronx staff and residents deserve equitable health responses and advocacy in our demands during this urgent health crisis.
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