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New York City Schools Are Not Even Open Yet, and Teachers Are Testing Positive with COVID-19

New York City Schools Are Not Even Open Yet, and Teachers Are Testing Positive with COVID-19

At Middle School 839 in Brooklyn, teachers say there aren’t enough custodial staff on hand to carry out the city’s recommended pandemic cleaning plan. The electrostatic sprayer for disinfecting surfaces is missing parts and doesn’t work, they allege, while classroom windows only open three inches, making ventilation an issue. And the school only has about two weeks worth of face masks instead of the 30-day supply they were promised, the teachers claim.

Because of this, MS 839 faculty—who are only permitted to work from home if they have specific underlying medical conditions—are urging parents to choose the “fully remote option” for their children. After all, at least 22 New York City public school teachers have already tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks, according to the union that represents them. 

Classes in America’s largest city, and the former global epicenter of the coronavirus, are scheduled to begin Sept. 21. As early cases tick up and the big day approaches, teachers on the frontlines are starting to panic.

“I feel like we’re staring at an iceberg and screaming, ‘There’s an iceberg!’ and the mayor is saying, ‘There’s no iceberg,’” Frank Marino, a teacher at MS839, told The Daily Beast. “This is what we have been all summer saying would happen once people went into the buildings without mandatory rapid testing. What teachers are experiencing this week is a retraumatization of what we experienced in March, when we watched cases in the city spike while we were told to report to work.”

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