NYC protesters swarm City Hall after de Blasio closes public schools, but not private schools
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has infuriated parents over yet another lockdown of the nation’s largest public school system due to spiking coronavirus infections. But the real upset is coming from the fact that Catholic and other elite private schools in the city are allowed to remain open for in-person instruction. This has prompted protesters to gather outside City Hall in Manhattan.
Parents planned to deliver a petition to Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall on Thursday morning protesting the move to close public schools after the city’s rolling positivity rate passed 3%.
The “Keep NYC Schools Open” petition had over 12,000 signatures as of Thursday morning. Families planned to rally at City Hall and deliver the petition to the mayor in advance of his morning press conference. They then planned to head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office uptown to deliver another copy of the petition.
The parents say it’s “nonsensical” that indoor dining, gyms, and barbershops remain open while schools are closed.
Governor Cuomo also lashed out at reporters over the closures on Wednesday. In a stunningly arrogant response, he told them he didn’t really care what they think about it.
Tomorrow, NYC public school families representing the #KeepNYCSchoolsOpen movement will be hand-delivering a petition to @NYCMayor & @NYGovCuomo that calls on the Mayor to keep schools open.
FULL TEXT: https://t.co/H6Q7nAz7fy pic.twitter.com/TemlqLBUsf
— #KeepNYCSchoolsOpen (@KeepNYCSchools1) November 18, 2020
Parents stated that the seven-day 3% positivity rate threshold “was decided over the summer with no input from parents or students and with no awareness of the role schools play in COVID transmission.”
“Parents have been completely left out of this process. We have no seat at the table and we are here to take our seat at the table,” said Daniela Jampel, a parent.
Jampel helped lead protesters down Park Row to the gates of City Hall.
“We represent more than 12,000 New York City parents who are demanding that schools open now,” she said. “Our message right now is we need to open schools now. Like, they should never have been closed. This 3% metric is arbitrary. It’s anti-science.”
They also claim that remote learning is unfair to children who don’t have access to technology, Internet access, or a guardian necessary for them to succeed while learning from home.
More than 1 million children enrolled in New York City public schools stopped in-person instruction Thursday. They will now be taking online classes until at least Thanksgiving, de Blasio first announced Wednesday.
In stark contrast to the public schools, the New York City Department of Education will continue to run buses for children who attend nonpublic or charter schools. According to the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT), busing will continue to be provided for non-public schools until further notice.
“The party of science has suddenly decided not to follow the science,” New York City assemblyman Joseph Borelli said to Fox News. “The harm this is doing to children is going to be irreparable.”
“It is all a complete policy reversal,” he added, noting the hypocrisy of the mandate. “It seems we can have mask mandates for every purpose under the sun, except now schools and education for children who need it is deemed nonessential.”
The Archdiocese of New York is stating that Catholic schools, which reopened in September, will continue to follow state health guidelines and hold in-person classes for the foreseeable future. They represent more than 60,000 students. Closures will be determined on an as-needed, school-by-school basis, WCBS-TV reported.
New Yorkers are stunned that at elite private schools, where annual tuition rates can reach more than $55,000 per student, in-person instruction will continue. The mandate will not touch them or affect their students. Administrators have implemented independent weekly testing programs and mitigation measures regularly evaluated by staff.
“Low-income people are more likely to have to take time off work to home-school their children if public schools are closed because they cannot afford expensive childcare costs,” Ken Mahoney, founder of the Wall Street-based Mahoney Asset Management, told Fox News. “As a result of this, it will widen the NY income gap further and increase the need for further fiscal stimulus.”
Mahoney also stated children have a lower infection rate and a much higher recovery rate.
“Teachers unions are stuck in between a rock and a hard place as they do not want to risk the health of their members, especially as many have a high risk of contracting the virus with a low recovery rate,” Mahoney continued. “Yet, by shutting schools for the foreseeable future it means additional technology is deployed and students become acquainted with learning remotely, eradicating the need for teaching assistants and many union workers.”
“There is simply no science here to back the school closures up right now – that is the problem,” stressed Nadja Atwal, a Manhattan-based, German native, public relations business owner, and single mother of two boys aged 8 and 4.
“Schools per se are not superspreaders, that is just fact. Germany has been hailed by the U.S. mainstream media as the role model with its 80 million people and only 10,000 deaths. Even during the current so-called lockdown light over there, the schools stay open and the government in each city simply closes a particular school for a couple of weeks when there is a COVID case.”
The Family Homelessness Coalition released a statement urging NYC not to forget about the 114,000 homeless children at high risk of falling behind:
“For the 114,000 homeless children in New York City, school closures aren’t just frustrating — they are a danger to their well-being. For a child living in a shelter, temporary housing, or doubled up, remote learning is hardly an option. Many lack basic necessities like Wi-Fi access, a working tablet, or even physical space to study and learn. New York City cannot stand idly by as our most vulnerable children fall even further behind, spiraling deeper into a cycle of poverty. City officials must act expeditiously to give homeless children a fighting chance at making it through the school year. Now is the time to set up hotspots at the community level in close proximity to all family shelters, increase access to Learning Labs, and expand educational resources for children struggling to learn in temporary housing. Every child has a fundamental right to an education. Our city’s homeless and housing insecure children are no exception.”