Close New York City Schools to Protect Children and Stop the Spread of COVID-19!

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On October 3, the New York City Educator Safety Committee met and authorized the following statement. All New York City educators, parents, and students who agree with this statement should sign up today to join and help build this committee.

Teachers, students and families demonstrate at a rally against the reopening of unsafe schools in August 2020, in New York City. (AP Photo / Bebeto Matthews)

The New York City Educators Safety Committee hails the October 1 international school strike initiated by British mother Lisa Diaz and her collaborators as an important step forward in the fight to eradicate COVID-19 and protect the children’s lives. The fact that the strike took on an independent character, outside of the influence of the British Labor Party and the unions – which played the same treacherous role in opening schools as the Democratic Party and the unions in New York – is very significant and marks the beginning of a new kind of fight to end the pandemic.

The manner in which the strike has become an international event confirms what our committee has believed since its inception in August 2020: that the struggle of educators and parents in New York for the health and safety of children and adults will find strong allies and determined. not only among workers in cities, but among workers all over the world. The parents’ strike prompted us to redouble our efforts for the immediate closure of all public, private and charter schools, to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the lives of unvaccinated children as a first step in a comprehensive global COVID-19 eradication plan[FEMININE[FEMININE

The Department of Education (DOE) has deliberately ignored basic mitigation measures to stop the spread of the virus, despite claims it is doing so. Testing is limited to just 10 percent of students, provided they have a consent form. The DOE has given up on efforts to ensure adequate ventilation in classrooms, enforce inadequate three-foot social distancing, and even help teachers systematically hide children. The individual protection measures in place are only mandated for the show, which many denounce as “theater of hygiene”.

New York Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent announcement that children exposed to COVID-19 would no longer be quarantined if masked and socially distanced after September 27 is a blatant abrogation of basic human right health and safety.

Blasio’s administration is pursuing a policy that will spread COVID-19 as far as the virus can go. The administration’s single policy imposed, compulsory vaccination for educators and staff, is not enough to protect children and stop the spread of the pandemic. Moreover, the disorganized and haphazard way in which this measure is implemented has caused a staff crisis which has further worsened conditions in the schools.

Chaos now reigns in America’s largest public school district. Teachers are not told why entire classes are being sent home. Administrators refuse to answer questions about epidemics in schools. Parents receive form letters that absurdly tell them that another child in their child’s class has been infected but has not been in contact with other children. The city has abolished the standards by which it closes buildings when larger epidemics occur. Corporate media are complying with this by limiting their reporting on the cases.

Educators and parents now rely on social media and word of mouth to report outbreaks. In fact, they are forced to devote their time and resources to spreading the word. This committee supports these efforts of grassroots workers but believes that it must be organized and motivated by the prospect of educating the public as part of a larger strategy to eradicate COVID-19.

The same reckless business motives at “opening up the economy” work, including K-12 schools, are also responsible for the resumption of classes at New York college and university buildings. Distance education is deliberately denied as an alternative to most students and teachers. Private institutions such as the New School, Columbia University, and New York University (NYU) have given up on any pretense of social distancing and adequate ventilation in classrooms. Despite vaccination warrants, epidemics have occurred at both NYU and Columbia University.

To successfully fight for health and safety, educators, parents and students must be aware of the political obstacles that stand in their way. Not only the lying capitalist parties, but also the corporatist organizations that call themselves unions, have seized every opportunity and spared no effort to fully open schools so that parents can go to work and make a profit for Wall Street. The United Teachers’ Federation (UFT), led by Michael Mulgrew, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), led by Randi Weingarten, are among the looser unions in America today, spearheading the campaign reopening of schools in favor of businesses.

On Monday, Mulgrew and Weingarten visited schools in Manhattan. At a press conference, they praised the city’s efforts to impose vaccination on school workers, an effort the UFT resisted, while falsely hailing the “great success” of opening schools. .

Emphasizing their utter disregard for the safety of children, the vast majority of whom are still unvaccinated, Mulgrew and Weingarten were in full agreement with Blasio’s administration. Earlier today, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said cynically, “Schools in New York City are the safest places. In fact, there have already been 3,517 confirmed COVID-19 infections among students and staff, widely known to be a vast undercoverage given inadequate testing.

Following that line, Weingarten said, “We all want to stay in school in person.” She added, “Safety protocols are the way to stay… and we’re super, super, super vigilant on safety protocols, from vaccines to masks to… actually making sure you have a good epidemic process and quarantine. ” Weingarten then praised the “real partnership with management” and called for joint work with the Blasio administration.

This contest will come as no surprise to most New York educators, especially if they watched the show AFT sponsored on September 30, when Weingarten hosted Jay Bhattacharya, co-author of Great Barrington’s advocating statement. “collective immunity,” and Tracy Beth Høeg, one of the authors of a study that falsely postulates that schools are safe for children before the pandemic is contained. Alongside them, two representatives of the far-right parent group Open Schools USA, which sponsors anti-masking protests and opposes testing for children, appeared on the panel.

Far from fostering a “dialogue” on opening schools, the only topic of debate was how much children should be exposed to COVID-19. By sponsoring this forum, AFT has turned strongly to the right in its efforts to fully open schools. It encourages the most harmful and staunch opponents of democratic rights and the health of the working class. It legitimizes the pseudoscience of “herd immunity” exactly when educators and parents need precise scientific information to survive.

The New York City Educator Safety Committee condemns AFT’s holding of this forum. We warn that AFT and UFT will do their utmost and will join forces with most reactionary and anti-scientific forces to keep schools open.

Gone are the days when educators could see unions as genuine workers’ organizations and the first condition to protect their health and safety must be a conscious and total rejection of AFT and UFT and the building of committees. basic independent.

In New York, as in the United States and internationally, these committees must be at the forefront of the struggle to organize educators and parents to disseminate scientific information, create channels of communication on the evolution of pandemic in their schools, and provide a working class agenda that can lead to the eradication of COVID-19.

Our committee proposes and fights for:

  • Documentation and publication of all attempts by the Blasio administration and the DOE to cover or minimize COVID-19 outbreaks in schools and neighborhoods.
  • Fully distance learning for educators and students in public, private and charter schools, as well as all higher education institutions, up to at least 95% of the population, including children, be fully vaccinated and the spread of the pandemic contained, as determined by mass testing and contact tracing overseen by trusted epidemiologists and scientists.
  • Full financial and social support for parents who must stay home with their children until the pandemic is contained, to be expected from heavy taxes on the city’s billionaires.
  • Full funding and resources for high quality distance learning, including broadband broadband access for all and expert technical support to train and assist educators in K-12 schools and all schools in ‘Higher Education.
  • High quality medical care for all workers, including city retirees whose plans have been downgraded.

We situate our fight in New York City within a larger global fight to eradicate COVID-19, which requires the following:

  • Massive expansion and international coordination of immunization programs, to ensure that the world’s population is immunized quickly and safely.
  • Universal testing, contact tracing and safe isolation of infected patients, to track and contain the pandemic in each country.
  • The reinstatement of all COVID-19 preventive measures, including the masking and closing of all non-essential schools and workplaces, while providing full support to workers and small business owners.
  • A strong tax on the income of multimillionaires and billionaires to finance the above programs.

All educators, parents and students in New York City who agree with these demands and the fight to eradicate COVID-19 should register today to get involved and help build this committee as a combat organization.


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