New York Mayor Lays Out Strategy To Reopen Schools



Closer. I'm okay. How are you? Oh, it is nice and fullness possible. So we met in the northern end of the Bronx in a big, empty public high school where there were a bunch of custodian sort of jamming open windows to improve ventilation and get fresh air in windows that, in some cases seemed to have not been open for a very long time, And we kind of folded ourselves into these little desks. He's super tall, so he sort of had to squeeze himself in there. We sat 6 ft apart, and I asked him, you know, tell me why This is so important to you What is really needed to use for the CT? Could you ask a simpler first question? Okay. What you have to understand about Bill De Blasio is he came into office, promising to be kind of the education mayor. He has always said that education is His top priority that reducing inequality in the public school system is his sort of biggest task. He also genuinely believed that schools should be of them. They need this. The simplest thing to say to begin is they need this. It's not optional to them. And what he said is he sort of made the case for why in person is so important and why he thought families needed the option of Going back into classroom. I think much more deeply. There is There's so many things happening here so many things right on his decision. And then he also told me Look around us. Look at New York City right now. The city has been here old people say, really have been rolling. We're the envy of the country. He had these incredibly low positivity rates. And he said, if any place conducive to it were the place that can do it. I would much rather be criticized for we try. Even if it didn't work out of the way we hoped then we didn't have the courage to try. So you're not planning to delay this time? I have Very clear plan and I'll always listen to concerns. I watch the healthcare situation. I'll listen to substantive issues and people raised them. But the plan is the plan. Let's make any last questions. We'd you know, non relationship between So now that the mayor has laid out his argument For doing this. How does he actually start to reopen the system? system? So So very very quickly quickly After After the the mayor mayor says says he he wants wants to to get get schools schools open, open, it it becomes becomes clear clear that that this this is is basically basically the the hardest hardest thing thing he's he's ever ever tried tried to to do do as mayor. I mean, the sort of logistics of it are just dizzying. The task start piling up day after day, hour after hour. One of the biggest immediate tasks was that the mayor gave kids and families a choice of whether they wanted to come back into classrooms or not. So all of a sudden the city had to create to school systems out of 11 for the kids who were going to be home and one for the kids who are going to be back in the classroom. At least part of the week so that they could rotate in and out for social distancing. So that's one whole logistical nightmare. And then there's just actually getting the school buildings ready, which is Absolute enormous undertaking. New York City has well over 1000 school buildings. Many of them are over a century old. They have windows that don't open. They have h backs that have been broken for years. They have radiators and heating systems that maybe have never worked. And you had to basically transform what New York City classrooms looks like, right? So as the mayor starts going through this enormous to do list there starts to be a growing resistance against his reopening plan. Children cannot focus on school work if their family members and futures are in the hospital or dying. Children cannot learn if they're dead, many teachers, saying We don't feel safe. We don't think it's right to go back into our 100 year old school buildings and teach kids in a mask and just hope that it's safe. We will not be an experiment. We will not die so that the academy gets after work. And so how does the mayor responded? That's been having teachers in the streets, saying they're afraid of dying in the classroom seems like a pretty important obstacle, so at the height of this sort of period of resistance and protests and fear and skepticism about the reopening plan The mayor kind of has to come up with a way. Good morning, everybody of common people down. Well this morning we're gonna talk about the most important piece of reopening this city restarting this city. And that's starting our schools up again. And so he comes out and he says Okay, folks, I hear you. We understand the anxiety. We understand the fear. Because this city's been through so much, and I have a plan to keep you safe, and if it isn't safe, we don't do it. It's a simple as that. And so he kind of introduces this menu of safety measures. So what are we doing? You've heard some of it before we're using is wearing a mask all day. It's social distance thing free priority testing. It's having a nurse in every school building, making sure that teachers Kids staff all have the personal protective equipment. And then finally, he says, we will not Reopen our schools. Unless the city Infection rate is below 3%. You have my word that I'm going to shut down the whole school system if we ever reach 3% positivity. And how does the mayor explain how he arrived at that? 3% number what it's based on so at the time, the number that was kind of floating around there for when your alarm bells should start to go off. And when schools and other things may not be safe was 5%, we're hearing 5% a lot. And I think basically part of what happened. Is that the mayor? His team looked at that number and they said to the city we're going to do you one better. We're going to come in below 5% as a symbol. It was a promise. It was a way of saying I'm going to set the lowest, most conservative threshold that's out there. And that is proof that I'm taking school safety really, really seriously in this pandemic, and does it

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