New York’s powerful teachers union demanded Wednesday that every student and staffer in the Big Apple’s sprawling public school system be tested for the coronavirus as a precondition for restarting in-person learning next month.
Without the massive expansion in testing, the union chief argued reopening classrooms would be one of “the biggest debacles in the history of the city” and threatened a strike or other job actions.
“Every single person — both adult and child — that is to enter an NYC school must have evidence that they do not have the COVID virus,” Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, told reporters at a press conference, where he laid out the demand.
“New York City must have a rigorous and intensive testing system in place,” he added. “What happened in March cannot happen again.”
It’s an enormous demand.
Statewide, there are typically just 50,000 to 80,000 COVID-19 tests performed every day. There are more than 1 million children who attend public schools in New York City alone.
Mulgrew acknowledged the UFT’s list of preconditions could delay the restart of in-person learning by a month or more — and threatened that teachers would not show up for work despite state laws banning public section unions from striking if Mayor Bill de Blasio holds firm to his September 10th reopening.
“The minute we feel the Mayor is trying to force people into an unsafe school, we go,” he said.
When asked to clarify, Mulgrew said that a walkout and sickout were among the options on the table.
“And it all leads to the same place under the law: the union receiving all sorts of penalties, I go to jail, all of that. And that’s all fine, we’ll do it if we have to,” he added.
At the end of the two-plus hour give and take with the press, Mulgrew again volunteered the strike threat.
It marked the latest escalation in the tensions between City Hall and key unions at the Department of Education, which have issued a slew of objections to Hizzoner’s push to restart in-person learning.
Nearly one-in-10 school principals have requested medical accommodations that would allow them to continue to work from home even after classes resume, statistics obtained on Tuesday by The Post show. Their union, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, sent a letter to de Blasio last week requesting he delay plans to reopen campuses.
“Given the lack of information and guidance available at this time, CSA believes that NYCDOE’s decision to open for in-person learning on September 10th is in disregard of the well-being of our school communities,” the letter said.
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