Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Letter to Staff

In case you did not receive the email from Michael Mulgrew, you may now apply for an accommodation to work from home right here. You may do this if you are over the age of 65, or if you have underlying medical conditions as set out by the CDC. You may need documentation from your doctor.

I encourage you to apply for whatever reason you can think of. One high risk activity, for example, is smoking. Maybe, whenever you are in the comfort of your own home, you like to spend your time chain smoking. People do stranger things.

Here’s what I do know—it would be highly inconvenient for me, at this point in time, to get sick or die from COVID. It would be further inconvenient for me to sicken my wife, my child, or even my little dog. Mayor de Blasio understands that students and their families might find it inconvenient to get sick and die, and has offered them all a chance to opt out.

The mayor, however, does not appear to similarly value our lives or those of our family members. I find this curious, since he wishes us to risk our lives to perform “hybrid learning.” This is when you go to work each and every day to teach a small portion of your class. What happens to your other 25 students? Who knows? It’s all part of life’s rich pageant, I suppose.

Mayor de Blasio is not going to hire tens of thousands of additional  teachers to serve students who aren’t in school that day. I suppose we could cut our curriculum by 60-80% and repeat lessons. Alternatively, we could hope that students not in the building just feel the vibes, or read their magic 8 balls, or ask their friends to recreate lessons.

Some will say that students need to make social and emotional connections, and that’s not even debatable. How exactly they are supposed to make them while socially distanced, masked, and prohibited from approaching even you, the teacher, is a mystery to me.

Furthermore, the chancellor has said that he doesn’t want to treat failure to wear a mask as a disciplinary issue. I don’t know about you, but I’d absolutely enforce mask wearing. I’ll risk a letter to file over COVID any day of the week and I won’t hesitate to deny entry to a student who is unmasked. It’s my primary duty to protect the health and safety of my students.

In any case, to support you even further in these tough times, Mayor de Blasio has killed Teacher’s Choice. So if you were planning to use it to buy the fast internet access you needed to use Zoom properly, forget it. Here is my feeling—screw Mayor de Blasio, screw Chancellor Carranza, and screw a system that thinks it’s worth risking our lives to give our students awkward, incomplete, poorly thought out slapdash nonsense posturing as education. I see no way that the mayor’s “hybrid” can serve our kids, and we could certainly improve upon remote learning until such time as we can safely come in and do our real jobs.

I urge you to apply for an accommodation, no matter how remotely your condition affects you. I applied. In fact, I would apply if I had a hangnail, and contend the hangnail makes it inconvenient for me to get sick and die. No one should get sick or die, and shame on City Hall for waiting until someone does before making up their minds on a safe way to proceed.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns.

Best regards,

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