Yonkers teachers have a trusted and proud history of working tirelessly to providetheverybesteducationforthestudentsweserve. As COVID-19cases inYonkers surge, our commitment to our students remains strong, but there must be transparency and assurances that our schools are safe. Despite the Yonkers Federation of Teachers’ best efforts to address the health and safety of our school community, there are many questions and concerns that remain unanswered. The YFT believes the public needs to know some of those concerns.
Did you know:
• The district does not automatically close schools where COVID-19 cases have occurred for appropriate cleaning and sanitizing. Most schools have remained open in these cases, potentially placing all in danger of infection. Students of a teacher who has been directed to quarantine are placed in other classrooms thereby increasing the likelihood that COVID-19 transmission could continue to occur.
• The district has routinely permitted administrators to combine students from different classrooms or grade levels, increasing the potential for viral transmission. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), such as gloves or face shields, are not widely or consistently available for teachers and staff who work directly with children.
• Despite requests for custodial cleaning schedules some schools have refused to provide them, resulting in the school community unaware of whether proper cleaning measures are being followed.
• Teachers have not been consistently informed when students are quarantined.
• The district mostly relies on open windows for ventilation, even in the cold winter
months, causing students and staff to keep their coats on while learning.
• Isolation rooms are mandated areas where suspected COVID-19 students are held.
* Some isolation rooms are not separate from the nurse’s office, allowing for potential spread of the virus to other vulnerable students.
• Despite requests by the YFT, the district refuses to allow an industrial hygienist to
inspect buildings for safety.
• In spite of the district’s claim that students are receiving hot lunches in school, many schools are not providing hot lunch to students.
• The district does not have enough substitutes to safely staff buildings when teachers are out sick or quarantining
• There are many teachers with severe underlying conditions who want to work remotely who are instead being forced to use their sick days, leaving many of their students with a substitute teacher or, in some cases, losing related services as a result of the “no telework” decision by the district.
• Despite these many concerns and the increase in COVID-19 rates citywide, the superintendent is openly pushing for more students to come in 4 days a week.
The Yonkers Federation of Teachers proudly stands by its position to keep our schools safe. Accordingly, for the safety of all within our school community, the YFT demands that:
• All staff members have consistent access to the PPE that will allow them to work safely.
• All cleaning schedules and protocols be made publicly available and known.
• Schools move to remote-only instruction for at least one school day when
positive COVID-19 cases are identified in a school building while contact tracing
and cleaning/sanitizing occurs to protect the school community.
• Informational sessions be provided to all staff regarding contact tracing and
• Adherence to the reopening plan by not allowing the commingling of students in
• Ventilation systems reports be forwarded to the Federation.
• The district publish the numbers of quarantined staff and students per building
per case as part of the district daily COVID-19 updates.
The Yonkers Federation of Teachers has fought for strong standards that will increase safety in our schools. Minimum standards are not enough! As our communities struggle with increasing COVID-19 cases, it is time to demand that the school district work with transparency to strengthen safety measures in our schools.