De Blasio: NYC schools will fully reopen in fall -- with no remote option

Better late than never, but this is very, very late. “COVID is plummeting in this city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, but schools didn’t present a significant threat for outbreak vectors in the first place. We have known that since last September, but many states and cities refused to order the reopening — mainly due to ridiculous demands from teachers unions:

New York City public schools will fully reopen in September in person without a remote option, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” de Blasio said the public school system’s nearly 1 million students and all staff will return to the classrooms on Sept. 13 for class completely in person, with no remote learning, a major step toward fully reopening the nation’s largest school district.

“That’s the news I think parents, kids, everyone’s been waiting to know. We’re going to be back strong, ready, safe,” de Blasio said. “It’s just amazing to see the forward motion right now, the recovery that’s happening in New York City, but you can’t have a full recovery without full strength schools – everyone back sitting in those classrooms, kids learning again.”

It’s the right policy, but it’s a policy that should have been implemented months ago. The science has been clear on the low risk that schools present, mainly because children are poor vectors for COVID-19 transmission. Both the Trump and Biden administration pressed to get teachers priority access to the vaccine in January and February, but the unions shifted the goalposts on returning to work from all teachers being vaccinated to all children being vaccinated. Even Anthony Fauci talked about the ability to reopen schools in September — September 2020, noting almost exactly a year ago that the benefits outweighed the risks.

Instead, the teachers unions kept schools closed up tight in blue states and urban districts. Recently, however, the unions have gotten a beating over their public-relations efforts to defend those policies. AFT president Randi Weingarten took a beating this weekend for casting teachers as the big victims in this pandemic:

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten faced criticism on social media Friday, following comments made by the union chief alleging teachers were overly burdened. …

“Teachers are tired; they are exhausted. We have to find a way to repair and nourish them as well as families in terms of attracting and retaining our teaching force,” Weingarten said.

But parents angry with school closures took to Twitter to voice their frustration at her comments, pointing to what they viewed as inadequate Zoom teachings and jobs sectors that have long required in-person shifts. …

“Why do public school teachers think they’re so special?” another social media user asked in a tweet. “Medical workers and grocery store workers need to be nourished and repaired too. You. Aren’t. Special.”

You gotta love the hubris of lecturing parents about how tired teachers are from not being in classrooms. Weingarten had called on the CDC to issue strenuous new safety guidelines for reopening, hoping to forestall a full return to normal teaching. Instead, Weingarten may have provided the PR-debacle straw that broke the camel’s back. Bill de Blasio’s move will put pressure on urban school districts around the country to force teachers to return to work or find another career, a move that city leaders and governors should have taken months ago.

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