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New York City Teachers' Union Expresses Concern Over School COVID-19 Testing Protocols, Says Remote Learning May Have To Happen

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The city teachers' union has come out with a stern warning for the incoming mayoral administration -- fix the COVID-19 testing problems, or risk having to go back to remote learning.

We've seen cases surge in the city, and that's also been the case at schools. We've seen COVID among students, teachers, support staff, and if things don't improve, it could result in kids having to stay home, CBS2's Kevin Rincon reported Wednesday.


The union says testing protocols at city schools is not working.

"We have nothing but overwhelming evidence that the testing system for our school system has fallen apart," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

Mulgrew said a big part of that is confusion over who can get a test. Up until two weeks ago, adults were being excluded because they're vaccinated.

"The testing teams are saying nobody told us to do that. Nobody wants to hear this," Mulgrew said.

And as case numbers surge, the message from the UFT is fix the problem, or risk having to shut things down.

"We're not gonna sit here and say schools should be open because we're not gonna tell the parents who talk to the teachers every day that your children are safe," Mulgrew said.

FIND TESTING SITES: Click here for New York City's testing site locator, including mobile sites and at-home appointments

AVOID THE LINES: Click here for NYC Health+Hospitals testing wait times

A sixth grade teacher from Intermediate School 61 in Corona, Queens, who wanted to remain anonymous, said testing at her school has been a mess.

"It's very chaotic. It's not really organized. So what's happening is more students are getting exposed," the teacher said.

She's frustrated with claims that there is enough testing to go around.

"That's not really happening. The only kids that are getting tested are those who've given in consent forms to be tested, and are not vaccinated," the teacher said.

At Public School 33 in Chelsea, a grandmother with her fifth grade grandson said she has concerns surrounding the quarantine protocols, saying they're flawed.

"They gotta use the same bathroom, the same lunchroom, so you still exposing everybody to COVID. It makes no sense. I think remote learning would be better for people with their children," the grandmother said.


David, a second grader, said he has had a close encounter with COVID.

"One in my chess class got sick," he said.

"Yes, I worry about that, but the kid staying home is not a good choice," his mother, Kerry, said.

She said she hopes kids can stay in the classroom come January.

But if things don't change, "I don't think we're in for a happy New Year," Mulgrew said.

CBS2 did reach out to Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration for a reaction to Mulgrew's comments, but didn't get one. Eric Adams' transition team said it is waiting until the mayor-elect takes office on Jan. 1. Either way, there's not a lot of time to get things right.

CBS2's Kevin Rincon contributed to this report.

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