Yonkers Federation of Teachers Undermine Gov. Cuomo’s Directive to Keep Schools Open By Refusing to Be Tested
By HEZI ARIS

eHezi Community, COVID-19, Education, Governance, Health, Hezitorial, History, Law, New York State, People, Political Analysis, Politics, Unions, Yonkers, NY 8 Comments

The YFT vs. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Conundrum Hezitorial

UPDATED as of November 26, 2020

 

Yonkers Tribune Publisher / Editor-at-Large and Westchester On the Level Radio Host Hezi Aris

Yonkers Federation of Teachers (YFT) President Samantha Rosado-Ciriello

YONKERS, NY — November 25, 2020 —Yonkers Federation of Teachers (YFT) Union President Samantha Rosado-Ciriello issued a directive to the membership on Friday, November 20th via email. She presented a litany of issues and concerns after her salutary opening which read, “Dear YFT Brothers and Sisters”.

She defined and delineated the following concerns in her opening remarks…

“The superintendent’s response to our query is mostly unresponsive
(see below).  In addition, we have concerns about the district’s consent form for testing in the yellow zone. We believe the district has exceeded its authority beyond the scope and intent of the Governor’s order in the following manner…

The list the YFT President Rosado-Ciriello defined area…

1) Signing the form gives consent for biweekly random testing until June 30 unless revoked in writing.

2) Signing gives consent to get tested if a person exhibits symptoms.

3) Signing gives consent to be tested if they come in contact with a COVID positive person in school.

4) Signing gives consent for the district to share information with government entities in addition to the Department of Health (DOH).

5) In one area it states the testing is voluntary and is not a condition of employment, yet in another area it states “declining testing may affect my ability to work until I am tested or quarantined pursuant to Yonkers Public Schools policies and procedures.”.

EDWIN QUEZADA: On November 23, 2020, Yonkers Superintendent of Schhols Dr. Edwin Quezada responded to YFT President Samantha Rosado-Ciriello as follows:
“You have posed a great deal of questions. A number of them are valid. Here is what I know of our expectations: for a school in a yellow zone to remain open, the district must test 20% of anyone who comes into the school. We drafted a consent form to facilitate the process. All of the testing will be done with the support of the Westchester County Department of Health. We must followed all of their guidance. Dr. Rabadi will supervise the process. The test that we will administer is provided by the Department of Health. The test is called: Binaxnow COVID-19 AG Card and Navica. It is supposed to be a very simple test. Our nurses have completed the training. If the Westchester County of Health provides the district with the test kit this week, we will attempt to test students in Cohort B this Wednesday. Staff who volunteer for the test will test on November 30 and December 7. It is also important to note that families and staff can also go to their individual provider, test, and share the results. The legal team will advise regarding your assertion that “the district has exceeded its authority beyond the scope and intent of the Governor’s order”.
# # #
YFT President Rosado-Ciriello addressed Dr. Quezada by email on November 23rd as follows: “We are still awaiting a response to our email of Friday 11/20/20. When can we anticipate answers. We have concerns about the district’s consent form for testing in the yellow zone. We believe the district has exceeded its authority beyond the scope and intent of the Governor’s order in the following manner:
  1. Signing the form gives consent for biweekly random testing until June 30 unless revoked in writing
  2. Signing gives consent to get tested if a person exhibits symptoms
  3. Signing gives consent to be tested if they come in contact with a COVID positive person in school
  4. Signing gives consent for the district to share information with government entities in addition to the DOH
  5. In one area it states the testing is voluntary and is not a condition of employment, yet in another area it states “declining testing may affect my ability to work until I am tested or quarantined pursuant toYonkers Public Schools policies and procedures.”
Further, we are concerned that it has been reported to us that the tests have not arrived and, therefore, the testing will not begin until after Thanksgiving break. Is this correct?”

# # #

 

Also on November 23, 2020 an email to which the YT has not learned the name of the person who emailed the item, the following was stated, “This should help everyone uunderstand what is happening in our yellow zone schools. I will also forward the staff consent to be tested form. I have also sent it to our lawyer for review. It may indeed exceed legal boundaries and we will find out before we recommend signing consent. We must understand exactly what we are consenting to. I am 100% sure their lawyers spend a great deal of time crafting the language. We need to know what this all means for us.”

As an addendum to that noted above, YFT President Rosado-Ciriello posted “additional info from the superintendent’:

The test is called: Binaxnow COVID-19 AG Card and Navica.

School nurses have been trained.

If test kits arrive this week, begin Cohort B this Wednesday, November 25, 2020.

Staff who volunteer for the test will test on November 30, 2020 and December 7, 2020.

Rosado-Ciriello closes with, “We will continue to keep you updated as we receive information, while advising her posture “In Solidarity”.

# # #

“On the afternoon of November 20, 202 Dr. Quezada formed Rosado-Ciriello as follows: “All testing will be conducted in abidance with Governor’s order and other mandated health protocols. I will be happy to discuss the protocols with the team next week.”

 # # #

Also n November 2020, Dr. Quezada addressed  YFT President Rosado-Ciriello  as follows:
“Hope all is well with you and your family! Attached is the map that depicts the areas of Yonkers that have been designated as “Yellow Zones”. After carefully reviewing the map, the district has identified 15 schools that fall with the zone: Cornell, Scholastic, VIVE, School 9, Cross Hill Academy, Yonkers Early Childhood Academy, Pal Prep, Gorton HS, School 13, Eugenio Maria de Hostos, Cesar Chavez, Montessori School 27, PEARLS Hawthorne School, M.L. King Jr., and Enrico Fermi. These schools are in zip codes 10701, 10703 and 10705. The district is working non-stop to meet the requirements associated with maintaining these schools open: 20% of the total number of individuals who come to the school (when hybrid instruction is in section) must be tested.
“To accomplish the State expectations, we have done the following:
1.       Partner with a medical provider to facilitate the testing
2.       Design a consent form for those who will be tested
3.       Determine that testing will begin with volunteers
“Everyone who is being tested and has health insurance must provide evidence of insurance. Those who do not have insurance will not be penalized and will also be tested. If everything goes well, we are hoping to begin testing on Tuesday, November 24, 2020.
“I know that we all agree that preventive testing is the best way to identify asymptomatic individuals who may be carrying the virus. I am asking for your support with this important expectation so that we can continue to support our most precious possession, our children. Please remember if the school’s positivity rate falls below the positivity rate of the yellow zone, testing will be discontinued.”

# # #

What follows are the “Previous questions Stipulated on Friday, November 20, 2020.

1. Since the testing is free, why is it necessary to collect proof of insurance? We strongly object and will advise our members of such. No longer being requested. Thank you

HEZI’s NOTE: Since the test is free, proof of insurance is unnecessary. Proof of identity is logically requested. Once ID is proven, any supplementary information about such an individual is known to the City of Yonkers. Even so, it seems a recalcitrant and adversarial stance for an unknown basis.

2. What medical provider is the district partnering with? No answer, but Dr. Rabadi will supervise the process and all nurses have been trained.

HEZI’s NOTE: Dr. Ammir Rabadi was advised on Tuesday, November 24th that testing of 20 percent of students, and 20 percent of a grouping of teachers, custodians, kitchen staff, and other ancillary workers would fall under his aegis even though there was a previous suggestion a third partner might be those responsible for the testing. Grove. Cuomo instead informed D. Rabadi that responsibility for testing would fall under his aegis. As previously noted nursing staff were trained in administering the tests. 800 testing units would reveal results in 15 minutes.

3. Where will the tests be performed? Rosado-Ciriello wrote, “No answer”.

HEZI’s NOTE: The tests conducted on Wednesday, November 25th were performed at Hostos and P.S.9. Tests will be conducted on Saturday, but I have not been able to confirm where. Those who need to know will logical be informed.

4. How and where will the tests be stored? No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: Storage will reside in the Electronic Lab Reporting Service (ELRS) Website which falls under the  NYS Commerce Website.

5 . How will the district maintain privacy of individuals tested? No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: privacy will be maintained by ELRS as noted above.

6. If the staff test results come back positive, will staff be sent home immediately? No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: Those individuals who test positive will be sent to an isolation room where they will need to await a contact tracing inquiry before being permitted to go home to self sequester.

7. If the students’ test results come back positive, what plan is in place for isolating the student(s)? No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: Similar to adult staff, after contact tracing information is ascertained, the student will need to await a parent/guardian to take the child home.

8. If staff tests positive, and they are sent home, will their students also be sent home? No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: See response to item 6.

9. Will contact tracing begin immediately upon learning of a COVID  positive result? No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: See answer to item 6.

10. How will the district accomplish 20% within 2 weeks? No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: Methodically. Testing as many people from the disparate school on specific dates to which all staff and students will be informed on the day it will be conducted.

11. Has the district received enough test kits to accomplish 20%? The kits have not arrived.

HEZI’s NOTE: See answer 2. When supply is deficient, staff will obtain more and in so doing complete the task of testing everyone.

12. Who will monitor classes while testing is occurring? No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: Was not able to ascertain a response to the issue raised in issue 12.

13. Please provide the YFT with a copy of the consent form to be issued to YFT members for review by our attorneys prior to use. Received from our members, not the district.

HEZI’s NOTE: Since the YFT learned of the consent form from staff, I chose not to make further inquiry over the issue. A email addressed to Yonkers Public School Superintendent Edwin Quezada seems a logical point of inquiry.

14. As numbers continue to climb, how can we maintain safety in
schools if we cannot staff them? No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: Few teachers and few students presently attend school grounds. If the question infers a deficient sense of security the issue may best be logically requested of Dr. Edwin Quezada or the Yonkers Police Department or both.

15. We request the number of quarantined staff and students per building per case be published as part of the district daily COVID updates. No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: This question may or may not fall under a concern over privacy. Besides, as the number of those infected and/or healthy will be be derived from Dr. Quezada, and defined by whether the number of those infected will decrease or increase and thereby alerting the City of Yonkers if we have fallen out of the YELLOW designation or moved to the ORANGE or RED Designation.

16. As a result of the desegregation order, Yonkers Public Schools buses students across the entire city, rather than to neighborhood schools. With certain zip codes designated as yellow and students spread throughout the district, how does that affect the “school community vs, outside community” data? No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: The Desegregation Case and its directives must be adhered to by law. The fact that buses traverse will students from one section of the city to another cannot be ameliorated without some legal recourse. Then again, students from one section of CoY may not have a school to attend closer to where they may reside. Students travel and do adults throughout the city and beyond. The only solution at present is to wear a mask, wash your hands often, maintain social distancing, and any other directives of best practice. Perhaps the Yonkers Public School District can respond to the legal issue and/or by some protocol to which I am not privy.

17. If a staff member volunteers or is selected to be tested, can it be done by their personal physician or must they be tested by the district’s provider? Yes, staff can go to their individual provider, test, and share the results.

HEZI’s NOTE: So for those who choose to be tested other than under the aegis of the City of Yonkers, they can evade showing their identity cards, insurance forms, what have you. Is their information secure from prying eyes. Who knows. But you have a choice which evidently negates the litany of questions that are repetitious.

18. We are urging the district and Mayor’s office to strongly consider remote instruction after Thanksgiving and after winter recess. No answer.

HEZI’s NOTE: Your “urging the district and the mayor to strongly consider remote instruction” is disingenuous as the conduct of the YFT is intentionEd to undermine maintaining the Yonkers Public School District keeping its doors open by refusing to have teachers being tested as demanded by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s directive.

HEZI’s TAKEAWAY: It may be prudent to consider if refusing to be tested will create a broad gap between Governor Cuomo’s intent to keep the school’s open and the YFT’s interest to shut the schools down. What does the YFT do in response to the governor dismissing all teaching staff and hiring a new cadre of teachers looking to be employed. What will YFT’s outcry be then?

FINAL HEZI NOTE: It has become evident that were the parties involved, that is, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directives to the Yonkers Public School District shared in a timely manner, which it seemingly has, and YFT President Rosado-Ciriello interested in resolution to her concerns, administrative and  teaching would not be wound up into a frenzy, and parents and students would have an easier time contending with the fluidity of falling into a “yello zone” designation. Dr. Quezada would also be wise to address the Parents / Guardians of the student population, as well as the City of Yonkers in its entirety and contend with issues yet to be brought up. Further still, the adversarial stance must be ratcheted down and civility must enter the discourse. The outcome of the plans in place, and others that may become necessary if numbers of infected individuals continue to rise rather than abate, it would be refreshing to hear a sense of compassion from all the actors involved in a forthright manner.

Yonkers must learn to live by transparent means. The telling herein reveals Yonkers has a long way to go in serving all Yonkersites: students, teaching staff, ancillary staff, etc.

eHeziYonkers Federation of Teachers Undermine Gov. Cuomo’s Directive to Keep Schools Open By Refusing to Be Tested
By HEZI ARIS

Comments 8

  1. Another reason why these parameters are arbitrary and stupid-they want the children in the schools in the yellow zones tested aggressively. But the truth is, how many kids in the schools in the yellow zones actually live in the same yellow zone? With the ingenious concept of busing in place, kids rarely go to the schools in their neighborhoods anyway.

    1. Its a process that will eventually check all schools. This is a test to check the positive rates for 10 days. If the % is high schools will close.

  2. Hezi, thank you for exposing the wicked and dirty tricks the teacher’s union plays. It’s evident they are trying to overcome down schools so they can stay home. The governor needs to step up as well as the attorney General. Shame on them

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