In a scathing editorial posted Monday night, the New York Post editorial board demanded that teachers get back in the classrooms for in-person learning and unions get out of the way now that New York City is vaccinating teachers against COVID.
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced over the weekend that teachers and education workers are being prioritized for vaccinations and urged all education employees to make appointments to get their shots.
With that news, many advocates, parents, and members of the media began to call for all Big Apple schools to be fully reopened instead of the part-time and/or hybrid schedules the city elected to employ last fall.
The Post made its position clear in a staff editorial titled, “Teacher vaccinations mean all schools should reopen full-time ASAP.”
The piece began by going after the teachers’ unions that have stood in the way of a return to full-time in-person instruction:
Good news: New York City began vaccinating teachers against COVID-19 on Monday. That leaves the teachers’ union no excuse for continuing to oppose in-person learning: Classrooms at all grade levels must reopen so our kids can get the education they’re entitled to — but have lost out on for nearly a year.
The United Federation of Teachers has long stood in the way of getting back into classrooms daily, despite the fact that experts repeatedly stated that kids are a very low-risk population for catching or transmitting the coronavirus. But, in the words of the Post, the union “doesn’t care about the science — or the students.”
The UFT, the paper said, threatened lawsuits and strikes to avoid getting back into the classrooms before the school year started. The union agreed to go back to work only after Mayor Bill de Blasio was forced to offer new concessions. But the UFT wasn’t done there, the editorial noted; it has repeatedly tried to get schools closed and to avoid any reopenings — even some “more radical factions” demanded that all Gotham schools remain closed “until the whole city is basically virus-free.”
The need to get back into the schools is obvious to the Post’s editorial board:
Middle- and high-school students haven’t seen the inside of a classroom since the city shut schools on Nov. 19. Though even that was only part-time. Pre-kindergarten and elementary students resumed a “hybrid” learning last month, while special-needs kids returned to classrooms full-time. Kudos to de Blasio for getting that much done; children needing special ed are particularly ill-served by remote classes.
But all kids need to go back, full-time. “Without in-person instruction, schools risk children falling behind academically and exacerbating educational inequities,” warned a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine report last year. Nathaniel Beers, coauthor of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ report, explained that all children suffer under remote learning, even teens: “Adolescence is a period of time in life when you are to be exploring your own sense of self and developing your identity,” he said. “It’s difficult to do that if you are at home with your parents all the time.”
It’s far past time, the paper said, for students to get back into the classroom — and with vaccines in the arms of teachers, there’s no longer any reason not to.
“New York’s children have lost nearly a year of education,” the Post said. “It’s long past time they get to learn in a classroom again.”