“As a former teacher for 13 years, co-founder of 2 schools, and father of two daughters, my top priority continues to be ensuring that we do everything needed to guarantee that students have a safe return to school this September. Safely reopening our schools will be a challenging task, perhaps one of the biggest endeavors we have yet to deliver upon. We have one opportunity to do it right, and we need to get it right. I’d like to bring attention to the lack of adequate levels of resources available to our local schools, including receiving sufficient quantities of the personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer, and disinfectants they need to successfully operate in the times of COVID-19.
Today my office attended the SOMOS Care forum during which, doctors made important recommendations regarding the reopening of the City’s schools. I believe we would be greatly benefited by bringing them to the table to lend their expertise to the task ahead. Our partnerships with health sector institutions will remain essential in providing schools with everything they need to reopen properly.
Here are some of those recommendations to keep our students, teachers, and school staff safe as we head into September:
- All resources like PPE, hand sanitizer, and cleaning disinfectants should be readily available and in ample quantities in all schools PRIOR to the reopening of our schools.
- Schools must have proper working ventilation systems and visible social distancing guidelines signage for students.
- Ensure that every student and parent has access to a computer PRIOR to the start of the school year. SOMOS is proposing to donate hundreds of computers to students and parents who do not have access to these resources.
- All low-income families with students in public schools must be connected to free WIFI services prior to the start of classes.
- All schools must have a nurse available every day while students are attending classes. SOMOS Doctors are ready to work with the City to meet this demand.
- We must have councilors ready to help students who are dealing with the stress and anxiety that comes with returning to school after an unprecedented quarantine period.
- Reopen registry for online learning and increase outreach efforts to parents and guardians regarding remote learning.
- Lastly and most importantly, ALL STUDENTS, TEACHERS, AND SCHOOL STAFF MUST BE TESTED PRIOR TO REOPENING SCHOOLS!
In addition, the same level of protection we are expecting our schools to provide must also be seen in our transportation system given that students and teachers often use public modes of transportation to get to and from school. I will continue working alongside City Hall and the MTA to ensure we continue our cleaning efforts and at the same time provide all teachers and students with the resources they need for this upcoming school year.”
Ydanis Rodriguez was elected to the New York City Council in 2009, representing the 10th Council District (Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill). An educator for 13 years, Ydanis co-founded Gregorio Luperon High School and the Washington Heights Health Academy. As a leading voice at the NYC Council, Ydanis has brought changes in transportation, education, economic development, housing, police reform, healthcare, environmental policy, and ensuring low-income families have an equitable path to the middle class.