New York City, NY (March 15th, 2020) – New York City and the world is in the midst of a public health crisis greater than we have seen in our lifetime, and it is exposing the lack of a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of NYC children and families.
Historically, schools have been used as places of refuge and safety in times of natural disasters and crisis, and are often the heart of our communities. Closing down the entire system creates a new set of challenges we must face head on as a community. We must ensure that students and all school staff are taken care of in this time, and that necessitates a citywide response that recognizes all of us.
In the event that schools are forced to closed, we believe that the following must be in place:
- Academic supports:
- Implementation of Councilmember Mark Treyger’s plan to allow for student instruction and childcare at consolidated school locations
- Plan for consolidated school sites, online learning, transportation and other supports that give special attention to D75 students, English Language Learners and students who are overage and under-credited
- Multiple strategies for students to receive and complete academic work, in multiple languages and not limited to online — this includes phone hotlines (such as Dial-A-Teacher, in-person assistance, centers to pick-up materials, etc.)
- Access to free technology and free internet service for all students, that includes protection of student privacy rights
- Training for educators on how to conduct effective online learning
- Childcare support for families who are unable to take off of work
- Access to healthy breakfast and lunch meals for students that want one, and a plan to support economically disadvantaged families who will be impacted most
- There must be a clear plan on how we will reopen schools
- Emergency unemployment and SNAP benefits
- Rent and mortgage relief, and moratorium on evictions
- NYPD, ICE and ACS cannot be used as weapons against our communities, and being out of school must not become a reason to over-police young people
Parents should not be left out of critical conversations and planning for closing schools, implementation, and all of its repercussions. The Alliance for Quality Education and the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice are prepared to collaborate with the DOE to ensure that marginalized families are centered in all decisions, including Black, Latinx, immigrant, undocumented low income and working class families, and students with disabilities and who are overage and under-credited.