Keep Students Safe by Expanding Testing Availability & Offering a Remote Option 1

Keep Students Safe by Expanding Testing Availability & Offering a Remote Option

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 3, 2022) — As COVID-19 infection rates again rise across New York State, the public education advocacy organization Alliance for Quality Education released the following statement:

“As the virus once again surges across New York State, we need to ensure that New York’s schools can remain open by taking steps now to reduce the spread of COVID elsewhere. We call on Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams to reimpose restrictions on businesses and other nonessential institutions, expand access to COVID testing and make remote learning available to families who want it. If we truly value our schools and the education of our children, we must take all other steps possible to quell the spread of COVID before once again resorting to school closures,” said Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education.

“It is possible to contain the virus while supporting students and their families. We cannot elevate a demand to close schools first, while restaurants, bars and casinos remain open. Countries around the world have shown that school buildings can remain open safely, with restrictions on other businesses helping to slow infection rates.

“We are all eager to put the pandemic behind us, but pushing the continued disruption of COVID onto schools will not end the pandemic, and it will come at a huge cost to children and their families. Schools do not exist in silos — they are entrenched in our communities. Closing schools is deeply disruptive, not only for children’s learning, but families that depend on their schools for food and disability services, for educators and school staff, and for working parents who do not have access to childcare.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to learning during COVID. Remote learning proved challenging for some parents and students, but for others it was the best solution, amidst the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic. We want parents and students to decide for themselves the best option to keep their family safe. With case numbers rising, we must not push for only one option at the expense of students’ safety and the safety of their families.

“It is well past time for a remote option to be made available to families who understandably do not feel comfortable sending their children to school during a pandemic. Making a remote option available to parents would also alleviate overcrowding in classrooms, making it less likely for schools to become vectors of COVID. And as long as case numbers are surging with no remote option available, school districts must not penalize families for choosing to keep their kids home.

“Finally, the availability of COVID testing has become a bottleneck in ensuring the safety of students and educators. New York City and State must expand testing availability immediately. No New Yorkers should have to wait hours in line, outside in the cold in order to receive a COVID test.

“As they navigate their first years in office, both Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams have the opportunity now to turn a new page on how New York responds to the challenges of COVID by prioritizing the health and safety of children and families, over profits and revenue.”