NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Two unions want to delay in-person classes in New York City, saying there's not enough time to implement coronavirus safety protocols before the Sept. 10 reopening.
"They're gonna rush to reopen. It's not gonna be safe. People are gonna get sick," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City.
Mulgrew worries his biggest fear isn't far-fetched, saying logistics for learning aside, schools are nowhere near ready to open safely in less than a month.
"We haven't loaded the schools with personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies. We're doing ventilation checks now," Mulgrew told CBS2's Jessica Layton.
That sentiment is similar to the alarm sounded earlier by the union that represents school principals.
In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators says the city has failed to give schools enough time implement coronavirus safety protocols by the Sept. 10 reopening.
The union says there has been no guidance on when schools will receive PPE, thermometers, signage or hand sanitizers.
"If the principals who are in charge of ensuring the safety of the students and the staff in the building are telling the mayor this isn't going to work, then he needs to listen," Mulgrew said.
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Wednesday, de Blasio addressed those concerns while touring Village Academy in Queens.
"We've had a constant dialogue with both the CSA and the UFT literally every day," he said.
He says he will make sure safety protocols will be implemented at all schools.
"We have a whole month before schools open and we will do a lot more. I hear their concerns but this ball game is far from over. We're going to make sure these schools are safe," de Blasio said.
Mulgrew says he doesn't want this to turn into a situation where schools reopen in September, but the teachers don't show up to work because they don't feel safe.
But he says if the mayor keeps forcing the issue, that's probably exactly what's going to happen.
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The local debate intensified on the same day President Donald Trump hosted a group of parents at the White House pushing for schools to open for in-person learning in the coming weeks.
"We will provide up to 125 million reusable masks," the president said. "My administration also stands ready to deploy CDC teams to support schools that are opening."
A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows new cases were found in nearly 180,000 kids from July 9 through Aug. 6.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy now says districts can do remote-only learning to start the year if they need time to meet safety guidelines, adding "there is no one-size-fits-all plan" for schools in this situation.
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