Louis opposes re-opening of schools

Haitian-American Councilwoman Farah N. Louis.

With the scheduled first day of school in New York City quickly approaching, Brooklyn Council Member, Farah N. Louis remains strongly opposed to the re-opening of schools.

“With less than a month before thousands walk into their classrooms on the first day of school, the reality is the Department of Education (DOE) is not ready to resume in-person instruction,” Louis, the daughter of Haitian immigrant, who represents the 45th Council District, told Caribbean Life.

“We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of other school districts across the US that are now battling new COVID-19 cases in children that they were supposed to protect,” she added. “Our students, parents, teachers, principals, and staff deserve to feel secure.

“We need a concrete plan from the Department of Education that details the precautionary measures undertaken, including the provision of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) and other resources,” continued Louis. “I stand with the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), United Federation of Teachers (UFT), our parents, and students in calling for the DOE to postpone the reopening of schools until there is a practical plan and adequate funding for nurses in each school, supplies, and deep cleaning year-round.

“The public health and safety risk are far too high for us not to exhaust every resource to keep everyone that enters a school building safe,” she said. “Thank you NYC Council Member and Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger for your leadership and diligence!”

Last week, Louis and Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, co-hosted a teleconference with DOE officials on the reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year.

Besides elected officials. Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing increasing pressure from the city’s teachers, principals and even members of his own administration to delay the start of in-person instruction by several weeks to give educators more time to prepare, according to the New York Times.

It said on Tuesday that de Blasio has been hoping to reopen the nation’s largest school system on a part-time basis for the city’s 1.1 million schoolchildren this fall —” a feat no other big-city mayor is currently even attempting.

“If New York is able to reopen schools safely, it would be an extraordinary turnaround for a city that was a global epicenter of the pandemic just a few months ago,” the paper said. “Schools are the key to the city’s long path back to normalcy: opening classrooms would help jump start the struggling economy by allowing more parents to return to work, and would provide desperately needed services for tens of thousands of vulnerable students.

“But Mr. de Blasio’s push to reopen on time is now facing its most serious obstacle yet: the city’s principals, tasked with actually implementing the reopening plan, are questioning the city’s readiness,” it added.

Mark Cannizzaro, president of the city’s principals’ union, wrote a letter last week, calling on the mayor to heed his members’ “dire warnings.”

“We are now less than one month away from the first day of school and still without sufficient answers to many of the important safety and instructional questions we’ve raised,” he said.

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