New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday that he’s in talks with teachers union leadership and will consider a temporary remote learning option, less than a week after saying virtual lessons had not been effective earlier in the pandemic.
“I am working closely with the president of the UFT. And we will find the right way to educate our children in a very safe environment and if we’re able to put in place a temporarily remote option, we’re welcome to do so,” Adams said during a news conference.
He added that while he’s willing to talk with teachers union leadership about a remote learning option, his goal remains to keep children in school.
“I want children in school because it’s not only the academics. You hear me say it all the time, it is the holistic approach the full development of the personhood of the children. All the experts state they should be in school,” Adams said.
The comments contrasted with what the mayor told CNN’s Anderson Cooper last Friday, when he said that a remote learning option to slow the current spread of Covid-19 in the city didn’t make sense to him, particularly because virtual lessons earlier in the pandemic were not effective. He added that it negatively impacted children without proper access to Wi-Fi and technology, and that would need time to build out.
“The last time we did a remote option, children were not learning, and you can’t have a false remote option…. We can’t continue to hurt the education of our children,” Adams had said last Friday.
About 7.6% of New York City students have tested positive for Covid-19, according to sample testing from the New York City Department of Education released Thursday. The testing, which includes only about 23% of the city schools, is a sample snapshot that was taken during a 24-hour period Wednesday, according to the data.
Only about 77% of students reported to school Wednesday, according to the same data.
On Tuesday, students walked out of several schools, including Brooklyn Tech High School and Bronx High School of Science, saying they want more Covid-19 testing for students and staff, as well as an option for remote learning. Brooklyn Tech is the largest in-person high school in the country with nearly 6,000 students, according to the city’s education department.
New York City Schools Chancellor, David Banks, told CNN he plans to meet with some of the student leaders who walked out.
“I certainly appreciate any time students raise their voices to be heard…. I understand and I empathize with where they are, but I think we also are very focused on making sure we keep schools open,” Banks told CNN Wednesday.
The school system has been conducting in-school PCR testing and handing out rapid tests to students since classes resumed, according to the New York City Department of Education.
CNN’s Mirna Alsharif, Laura Ly, Elizabeth Stuart, Kristina Sgueglia and David Shortell contributed to this report