New York City Teacher Calls Bill de Blasio's Plan to Reopen Elementary Schools 'Reckless'

A New York City teacher criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to reopen New York City public schools on Monday.

"I think it's reckless," teacher Jia Lee told WLNY-TV. "We weren't consulted, and this is making us very uneasy about the health and safety of our students, their families, our safety and health and the families that we go home to."

Local New York City parents also expressed concerns, wondering if their children are prepared to go back to the classroom.

"Initially, it was excitement," parent Nirvana Randhawa told WLNY. "But then suddenly, it started to sink in. Oh my God, are we ready? It just seemed too soon."

New York City Announces Its Closing Schools
New York City Announces Its Closing Schools Again Due To Coronavirus NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: Schoolteacher Melissa Wong packs up the classroom that she appropriated for virtual teaching just a couple of months earlier on November 19, 2020 at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York City. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images/Getty

De Blasio announced November 29 that New York City will reopen public pre-k and elementary schools in phases beginning December 7, after being closed for nearly two weeks.

However, students can only return if they have already signed up for in-person learning and submitted consent forms to be regularly tested for COVID-19.

According to de Blasio, students at each school will be tested every week. This is a significant boost in requirements that previously called for monthly random testing.

The city will also push toward providing in-person learning five days a week, an increase from the particle in-person instruction set in the city's previous plan.

"The schools are some of the safest places to be right now in New York City," NYC Mayor @BilldeBlasio says on reopening public elementary schools next week.https://t.co/Tm96QcjqZA pic.twitter.com/2m3fwfsyLg

— New Day (@NewDay) November 30, 2020

In a November 30 interview with CNN's New Day, de Blasio reassured parents and teachers alike that "the schools are some of the safest placed to be right now in New York City."

"We know it works, but you have to constantly monitor that testing," de Blasio said in reference to his updated plan.

The mayor continued to note that students' COVID-19 tests will be processed "really quickly" and results will be available within a day or two.

If multiple COVID-19 cases appear in a school, de Blasio said the city will do an immediate investigation to decide whether the school should close temporarily or for a two-week quarantine.

The city's public school system is the nation's largest, serving more than one million students across its five boroughs. But de Blasio estimated that only 190,000 students will be eligible to return to in-person learning.

The mayor's updated plan abandoned the previous 3 percent threshold, which led de Blasio to close New York City public schools on November 19 and return to students to all-remote learning.

de Blasio also faced criticism for shutting down schools earlier this month as teachers and parents claimed "remote learning is not working," according to a November 19 report from The New York Times.

Newsweek reached out to Jia Lee and Bill de Blasio's office for additional comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.