New York Must Prioritize Students, Not Profits In COVID-19 Response 1

New York Must Prioritize Students, Not Profits In COVID-19 Response

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 17, 2020) — As COVID-19 infection rates again rise across New York State, the public education advocacy organization Alliance for Quality Education released the following statement:

“New York’s families need leadership and a plan that prioritizes children. As the pandemic worsens, our state and local leaders are still prioritizing the bottom lines of businesses over the education of our children: we are having the same conversation about closing school buildings to contain the spread, while bars and casinos continue to operate. In places like England, France and Germany, leaders have chosen to close businesses in order to keep infection rates low and schools open. Across New York State, restaurants remain open for indoor dining while many schools have stayed close.

“As long as New York’s businesses remain open, COVID infection rates will continue to rise and we will be likely forced to close schools. Yet, eight months into the pandemic, New York has failed to provide every child with high speed internet and a device for remote learning. New York has also failed to address the additional needs of families that depend on their schools for food, childcare and disability services that school closures create.

“Health experts predicted a rise in infection rates during cold and flu season, the current increase in positive testing is not a surprise. Yet, it appears to come as a complete shock to Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio who are once again at odds on the best way to combat the spread of the virus. Our state and city leaders should be proactively planning to stay ahead of the virus with a cohesive plan to contain the spread. Yet, New York City parents are suddenly threatened with the prospect of their schools closing while restaurants, bars and casinos remain open. We should be prioritizing our children, not profits.

“Instead of providing much-needed assistance to schools in this time of crisis, New York State and New York City have cut school aid, first a $1.1 billion cut in April by the state, and then $700 million cut in June by the city. Our schools, and particularly in communities that educate the majority of our Black, Brown and low income students, need more resources, not less to address the needs of students and keep them safe.

“If the governor and mayor’s priorities were in the right place, they would ensure that needs of children and their well being were the top decision making factor. If we had bold leadership at the state and local level, we could contain the virus while supporting children and their families.”