New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York Post NYC school reopening plan doesn’t explain how to keep kids safe, lawmakers argue by Julia Marsh, Bernadette Hogan

NYC school reopening plan doesn’t explain how to keep kids safe, lawmakers argue

The city’s plan to reopen public schools this September does not provide enough specifics on how to keep students, teachers and staff safe, city and state elected officials said Friday.

“We need a plan for how to open schools, not more information on how to close them,” Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) said about the details laid out hours earlier by Mayor de Blasio and Dept. of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza.

De Blasio announced a “blended approach” of in-class and online teaching as long as the city’s daily positive-test rate for the coronavirus stays under 3 percent. It is currently at 1 percent.

The mayor and chancellor also explained protocols for the quarantine of students and temporary closures of individual buildings if someone at the school test positive for the virus.

But Kallos, a member of the council’s education committee, said that he and other public school parents are looking for something else.

“Objective measures the mayor and chancellor are taking to make it safe for children to come back to school, not what they’ll do once children are already getting sick and god forbid dies,” he said.

“What is the teacher student ratio going to be? How much distance will they put between the desks? Will the desks have barriers around them? What kind of ventilation will be in the schools? What do meals look like? Will kids be in a lunch room or eating meals at a desk?” Kallos asked.

“There’s a lot of questions where there’s no answers,” he said.

Kallos added that he’s heard from principals and teachers there’s no DOE funding to add safety measures such as extra ventilation or desk partitions.

De Blasio insisted during Friday’s City Hall press briefing that “we are sparing no expense” to make schools safe, though he didn’t provide any specifics about funding.

Fellow Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), who chairs the body’s education committee, agreed with Kallos’ concerns.

“These are not plans. These are unfunded proposals,” he tweeted Friday.

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (D-Bronx), chair of the Assembly’s health committee, said parents are in a tough spot.

“Thank god my kids are old and they’re working and thank god for it because I would not like to make this decision,” he said in an interview.

“I think if I had to make this decision on the spot right now I would say I would not send them and I would resort to teaching my own children — basically I’m afraid my kids are going to get sick — I’m afraid that they are going to get sick and catch the virus and pass it onto their relatives,” he said.

“The simple fact of the matter is there is no safe way to at the present time to open the schools. Nobody is going to be happy with the plan,” he said.

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