In a nutshell, the answer was not at all.
The first hints teachers received were from their students and former students. Anecdotal stories often reveal more facts than "reported" events or empirical scientific evidence. So when the news "reported" that 1 person and then 2 people in New York had the virus many of us, folks who had heard one student or two students had been "out sick" with "flu" had our suspicions.
I have personally heard of five teachers who have been in contact with alumni and present students whose families had been sick since March 1 and later, after the state government stepped in and began daily briefings, did test positive for the virus. That's give instances of colleagues who have second hand knowledge of family members of students or former students who had been sick with this -since March 1. (The city schools did not close until March 16 and even that was after a 150,000 teachers signed a UFT petition in 48 hours demanding the schools be closed.
And folks were terribly sick going back to March 1. So this virus was here before the city government acknowledged it in the manner they did.
We had also heard of anecdotal evidence of schools being kept open between March 16 and March 19 (the week that only adults were supposed to be in) despite positive lab results being presented to building school officials. I have personally heard of five cases in all -two schools in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn and two in Queens. These are cases where the DoE kept the school open (for days) despite medical knowledge that a staff member had tested positive.
And, although not officially documented, these instances are slowly now being reported. The latest example comes in today's Post, where a pregnant teacher who tested positive for the virus, tried and failed to get her Brooklyn school closed on March 17.
Despite her pleas, the city Department of Education did not close the school on March 17 — 19 when the entire faculty was mandated to report for training on remote learning. What’s more, students and their parents flooded into PS 199 classrooms on March 19 to pick up books, iPads and laptops.“All of my kids came in to get their stuff. They pretty much emptied their desks,” Iacurto, who was home sick, said she heard from colleagues.
DoE officials allowed those colleagues into that school knowing that the school had been a place of contamination. The same DoE officials allowed students into that school knowing full well that the school had been a place of contamination.
This is something you would expect from China, who retaliated against Li Wen Liang, the hero doctor who blew the whistle on this brand knew virus thus alerting the world.
This is the extent to which we should not trust governments.
This past week, de Blasio asked city agencies to prepare to cut a total of $1.3 billion from their budgets. It was unclear whether he was asking them to city that from their future budget predictions (the next FY starts July 1st and his budget must be in by June 1) or form this current annual budget allotment (the city is spending this money from somewhere. It can only be from new borrowed monies or from currently allocated monies. The laws are usually pretty clear about currently allocated monies but there is no guarantee that those rules haven't been waived given the current crisis. Newly borrowed monies to spend that extra amount would have to accounted for in next year's budgets. I am personally hoping that that's the case an that next year's budget for the city will only have a $1.3 billion deficit. That would be a dream scenario.
At the same time, the federal government allocated this same amount -$1.3 billion- to New York City's government in the new stimulus plan. Certainly something is going on here. I wonder if, under the current realities, we will ever know. If you're a person who has a concern about government overreach, this is a very dangerous time.
Throughout all of this, former UFT presidential candidate, Lydia Howrilka, of the Solidarity Caucus, has been posting pep-talk videos on her social media accounts. I am unable to embed the video on this blogging platform but here is her video from yesterday. She plans to get detailed about the budget outlook early next week. So some of the topics she addresses are some of the same topics and issues we are all thinking about. What is important about this is that it comes at time when the governments are proving, to any critical eye, that they just can't be trusted and has created an obvious reality that we should all trust the people who work with our union more than anyone.
More updates later tomorrow. But , for now, drop me a comment: how would YOU describe the love the DoE has for its students and the respect it has for its teachers?
I would use just one word: nuts.