I was contacted by a group of New York City school nurses to share this petition to present to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. The school nurses are rightfully concerned about the NYC Department of Education’s plan to open Regional Enrichment Centers (REC) for childcare during COVID19 without confirmation that proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is readily available. We know that NYC is the epicenter of the Coronavirus and the numbers are steadily rising. The issue is complicated, certainly the school nurses want to be helpful and responsive, but they also know that we are in unprecedented times and health and safety of students and staff must be the top priority.
Here is a link to the letter to parents from the NYC Dept of Education:
Below is the letter from the school nurses with a link at the end to the petition:
March 20, 2020
URGENT ALL COMMUNITY FAMILIES Recreation Enrichment Centers ARE NOT Safe for Our Children
Att: New York City Community
We hope to find you all safe and well. School Nurses of New York City (SNNYC) are writing to express our urgent concerns regarding Regional Enrichment (REC) Center operations during this COVID-19 Viral Pandemic. Our children were ultimately released from the dangers in our schools because the peoples’ voices were heard by the City of New York. Schools could not be left open to further the spread of this deadly virus. We have Department of Education staff testing positive for COVID-19. We have not been tested or cleared as negative for COVID-19. Our children need to stay home with familiar people to reduce the traumatizing effect this time is creating.
This unprecedented pandemic, COVID-19 left us without the proper protocols in place or protective equipment and supplies to support our school community. We were all sent home to wash our hands, isolate in our homes, quickly learn to practice the meaning of social distancing, and stock up on necessary provisions. The goal is to contain the spread of the COVID-19 to not deplete the medical supplies overload hospitals. We need to consider this may be the only step at this time we can take to lower the fatality rate and allow the sick to recover.
On March 19, 2020, Chancellor of the DOE, Richard Carranza understanding the value of the essential workers announced the formation of the Regional Enrichment Center (REC). While this is an honorable attempt to take the burden of child-care and babysitting off the essential workers who are keeping communities alive and are mandated to work during the COVID-19 outbreak, this plan falls short of providing a safe environment for everyone involved. The contingency plans filed with the employers of the essential workers should be utilized. Exposure and spread are inevitable in a REC center. There is no evident way to protect the Children, Families or Staff from infection.
Richard Carranza, Chancellor of the DOE, stated in the memorandum attached below, “Regional Enrichment Centers (RECs) places where the children of these front-line workers can SAFELY be cared for while their parents continue to serve the city in this time of need.”
What criteria determined REC centers were SAFE????
Did ALL staff get tested and prove negative for COVID-19?
Do child-care services trump the staff and student’s health and safety?
Where is the protective equipment going to come from? There are shortages in all hospitals? How would the school have any supplies? Who will back us if there are no masks or gowns or goggles or gloves and we have already reported for work?
Will NYC back us when we must abandon our post because we are unsafe?
Who will work in Isolation when children and staff become ill at the REC center and how will the parent pick them up if they are mandated to work?
How could a REC center operate after an inevitable positive case of COVID-19 in a student or staff or family member is confirmed or suspected?
The risk to everyone involved is monumental. There is NO method to create and maintain appropriate social distance with any age child or adult for that matter. WE are seeing the results in the cases of Covid-19 exploding in our communities and the order for a Lockdown is in place for all of New York City.
We need a safe, practical, solution for how to care for the children of the essential workers so the first responders, health-care providers, transit workers, and other key personnel must come to work and be confident their children’s safety is of the utmost importance.