Mayor Eric Adams is in talks with the city’s teachers union the United Federation of Teachers to move schools online amid hundreds of thousands of pupils staying out of class, though Hizzoner said he still prefers keeping kids in-person.
“I’m willing to sit down and entertain with the UFT if there is a way to do a temporary remote option,” Adams said at an unrelated press conference Thursday. “If we can do it and it is a quality option, but my goal, I want children in school.”
The mayor did not reveal more details about his talks with the union’s president Michael Mulgrew, but his Chancellor David Banks told parent advocates Thursday that his goal was to have an option “that will take us at the very least to the end of the school year,” reported Chalkbeat.
Adams has for weeks insisted that schools stay in-person, but Thursday’s shift comes after high schoolers walked out of their buildings Tuesday in protest, and as kids have not come back to class en masse since the winter recess.
“Safest place is in school and I’m going to continue to push that,” Adams said. “But we do have to be honest that there’s a substantial number of children — for whatever reason — parents are not bringing them to school.”
The latest Department of Education attendance data shows that 76% of the city’s nearly 1.1 million students were in classrooms Wednesday, meaning that more than a quarter-million pupils were out that day.
The UFT, which represents almost 200,000 public school teachers in the city, has been supportive of a remote option, Mulgrew said in an interview with Fox 5.
“We’ve called for a remote learning program since September and we believe we need to do this,” the labor leader told the channel. “We need to set something up because we hope this is the last wave, but we do not know if it is.”
A spokesperson for the union declined to provide more details about the talks, but sent amNewYork Metro a statement by Mulgrew posted on UFT’s Twitter page Thursday afternoon disagreeing with Banks’s statements.
Clearly the chancellor has been misinformed about the UFT’s position. We have long called for an instructionally sound remote option and have been speaking directly to the mayor about creating one, a program that will work for students. https://t.co/Eii7cu4nkY
— UFT (@UFT) January 13, 2022
“Clearly the Chancellor has been misinformed about the UFT’s position,” said Mulgrew. “We have long called for an instructionally sound remote option and have been speaking directly to the Mayor about creating one, a program that will work for students.”