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Northeast Queens Senator Leads Call Demanding City to Postpone Schools Opening

State Sen. John Liu (State Sen. John Liu via Flickr)

Sept. 17, 2020 By Allie Griffin

A Northeast Queens Senator is leading a call to demand the city postpone schools reopening in-person classes on Monday.

State Sen. John Liu, Chair of the Education Committee, penned a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio to defer in-person learning and instead focus on ensuring remote learning is fully functioning Thursday.

Liu was joined by nine other state senators who each signed their name onto the letter — including fellow Queens elected Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky.

“We all want schools to reopen but, despite your efforts, it is now apparent that schools across the city will not be ready by Monday, September 21,” the senators wrote. “We call upon you to defer in-person schooling and focus all effort on having remote learning up and running and functioning well for all students.”

New York City public schools are set to reopen in just a few days for a mix of in-person and remote learning, but the senators say concerns have only gotten worse as the first day approaches.

“Widespread concerns of equipment and supply inadequacies, staffing shortages including teachers and nurses, and ambiguous testing protocols – to name just some of the issues – have led to vocal misgivings and some outright protest by teachers, principals, and other school staff, the very people who would be entrusted with our schoolkids during the days,” they wrote.

The elected officials also said that there are numerous problems with remote learning, which began yesterday for all students. The listed a number of concerns, such as confusion with scheduling and staffing assignments and glitches with software and online tools.

Liu and the others also pointed to the Department of Education’s announcement Wednesday that students may not receive all of their remote learning in real time — which was equally surprising and disappointing to many parents.

The senators agreed that in-person education is ultimately better for students than remote learning, but they said the city’s lack of preparation isn’t worth the risk.

“It’s universally accepted that in-person schooling can never and should never be replaced by remote learning,” the senators said in the letter. “Unfortunately, the city is simply not ready to provide that in-person schooling in a way that the benefits outweigh the risks.”

They said the city should gradually and carefully ramp up in-person learning once there is a solid plan for reopening in place.

“We believe it best at this point to cut the losses and focus on making remote learning truly effective for all students, including those on IEPs.”

Separately, Queens Council Member Robert Holden also called on the city to delay the start of school Thursday morning. He too denounced the last-minute revelation that students will not always get live instruction on their remote days.

“Chancellor Carranza and Mayor de Blasio had several months to come up with a concise plan for the reopening of schools, and they have failed miserably,” Holden said in a statement. “Teachers, principals, students and parents still do not know what to expect when schools reopen in just five days.”

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