NYC Schools Chancellor Carranza E-mails Principals: Prepare for Shutdown

NYC Schools Chancellor Carranza E-mails Principals: Prepare for Shutdown

By Yehudit Garmaise

Last Night, New York City Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza sent an e-mail to the principals of the city’s 1,700 public schools asking them to prepare for a shutdown, tweeted Eliza Shapiro, a New York Times reporter who covers education.

    “Out of an abundance of caution, and to keep our school communities safe, I am asking all schools to be prepared for a brief time of fully remote learning system-wide,” wrote Chancellor Carranza. “And while no decision has been made about a system-wide transition to remote learning, as every great school leader knows, we must be prepared for every scenario.”

  The decision to shut down the schools is hard to understand given that restaurants, bars, gyms, and office buildings are open, even if only until 10pm, starting tomorrow night. Plus, elementary schools, in particular, have been shown to have extremely low rates of COVID transmission.

 “What we see so far is that you are less likely to encounter somebody with infection in a school than you would be outside the school and not just by a little, but by a lot,” Dr. Jay Varma, the mayor’s senior adviser for public health, said at a news conference last month.

   Public health experts have said that children under 10, at least, are not “super-spreaders” of the virus, and that the spread of the virus from schools to local communities is not more prevalent than from bars, restaurants, or other businesses, the New York Times reported.

   While most American cities have shut down their schools, many cities in Western Europe regard their schools and childcare centers as essential activities, and keep them open while strictly observing many health protocols, such as social-distancing, mask-wearing, and keeping classroom windows open.

   Those European cities have imposed strict lockdowns on seemingly less important elements of public life, such as on restaurants, bars, museums, and theaters, while at the same time, keeping their schools open.

  Irish prime minister Micheal Martin recently said that while his country could no longer avoid restrictions, despite their negative economic effect, he felt that it is vital that the schools remain open.

   “We cannot and will not allow our children and young people’s futures to be another victim of this disease,” Mr. Martin said in a national address. “They need their education.”

   Many parents in New York agree. Shapiro tweeted that “the same parents who were most forcefully opposed to reopening…now want the schools to stay open.”

    One mom on Twitter responded to the news that schools were once again preparing to close by lamenting that she and her husband had just gotten her 8-year-old son with autism through three weeks without school.

  “He finally feels a little secure and isn’t terrified, and he’s making progress in writing,” Jen J. wrote. “Sure. Upend his life again where there’s only .17% [COVID-positivity rate] in schools.”

photo credit: Tomash Devenishek/Flickr (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

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