Teachers playing horns, banging drums and chanting in unison marched outside of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Brooklyn apartment to ‘wake him up’ in protest of schools reopening- but he actually lives miles away in Manhattan.
The early morning symphony on Friday was led by around 100 New York City teachers who gathered to fight against local schools reopening for in-person lessons this month.
The decision to send roughly 700,000 students back to class has concerned school administrators and even prompted Mark Cannizzaro, president of Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, to write a letter urging against it.
People at the ‘Not Until It’s Safe’ rally gathered outside of de Blasio’s Park Slope apartment to ‘wake him up’, both literally and figuratively.
Footage shared online shows the group of educators, several of them in face masks, standing right outside the light blue abode as they played the tuba, drums and other instruments.
‘Wake up de Blasio, wake up! Tax the rich!’ the group cries out.
Although the apartment is owned by the de Blasio’s, they frequently rent out the property to tenants and live 11 miles away at Gracie Mansion in Manhattan.
People on social media believed it was a case of wrong address, but the group likely chose the Brooklyn residence because it’s near the home of Richard Carranza, the Department of Education Chancellor.
With the band in tow, the rally also marched to Carranaza’s home and protested the city’s approach to the upcoming school year.
Around 100 teachers gathered in New York City on Friday to protest schools reopening with in-person classes on September 21
The group played instruments and chanted outside Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Brooklyn home (pictured) to wake him up, but literally and figuratively
Pictured: a map showing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Gracie Mansion in Manhattan and his Brooklyn property
‘We’re going to f*** his shit up by making mad noise,’ one person with a megaphone said, according to New York Post.
The group of activists teachers took to the streets because they said a deal made between City Hall and the United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew was not enough to keep staff safe this fall.
‘We chose to continue these actions because we felt the deal reached by Mulgrew and de Blasio was inadequate to address the safety of our school workers and students,’ Flynn Murray, an organizer with the New York City School Workers Solidarity Campaign, told New York Post.
‘Randomized testing of 10 to 20 percent of teachers and students once a month will not curb the spread of COVID.’
He reiterated to News 12: ‘There’s not enough PPE. Teachers have told us they don’t have masks, they don’t have hand sanitizer; how do you convince a kindergartner to keep their mask on for eight hours if they won’t even keep it on for 15 minutes to walk to the park.’
The New York City School Workers Solidarity Campaign echoed those sentiments in a statement they released after city officials agreed to in-person classes.
‘The recent deal negotiated between Mulgrew and De Blasio does not in any way meet the standards for a safe reopening,’ the group wrote.
‘Including preliminary and regular testing of all school workers and students; ventilation; overall building safety; personal protective equipment (PPE); busing and commuting concerns; safe lunch plans; improvements to remote learning; and having no new cases in NYC for a period of at least 14 days.’
The rally was called ‘Not Until It’s Safe’ and it decried reopening schools amid a number of concerns from school faculty
Some teachers requested that in-person classes do not proceed until New York City goes 14 days without any new COVID-19 cases
Pictured: the group of educators played drums, horns and other instruments early Friday morning to kick off their demonstration
Jia Lee, a New York City educator, said she was upset by her union’s performance during negotiations with the city.
‘We were thinking that there would be a plan in place that would assure us that our buildings would be safe,’ she said.
‘But somehow all of the things that we wanted were not in place. We are understaffed, we are under-resourced.’
Mayor Bill de Blasio (pictured) has been criticized for his decision to reopen schools in September
New York City emerged as the country’s pandemic epicenter early earlier this year as the city was inundated with cases, deaths and rocked by a lack of resources.
Much of America watched as New York City’s morgues overflowed, hospitals became overrun, front line workers pleaded for PPE supplies on social media and one of the most buzzing cities went quiet.
Six months later, schools have been forced to prepare for a September 21 start date that many teachers said districts weren’t ready for.
‘The slow rollout of guidance has forced us to once again address an unfortunate truth,’ Cannizzaro wrote in his August letter to de Blasio.
‘Schools will not be ready to open for in-person instruction on September 10th. A more realistic, phased-in approach would instead welcome students for in-person learning toward the end of September, following a fully remote start to the year.’
New York City on Friday has recorded more than 240,000 cases and 23,000 deaths.
Jia Lee: ‘But somehow all of the things that we wanted were not in place. We are understaffed, we are under-resourced’ Pictured: two men hold up a ‘Black Students Matter’ banner during the ‘Not Until It’s Safe’ rally on Friday
After protesting outside of de Blasiio’s home, the rally traveled to the Department of Education Chancellor’s residence to do the same thing
Before leaving the Park Slope neighborhood, teachers placed coffins outside of de Blasio’s and Carranaza’s homes to symbolize what they think could happen if schools open up as scheduled.
‘Basically, forcing everyone to the front lines not just teachers and administrators and parents but children as well,’ Desiree Joy Frias, of Democratic Socialists of America, told News 12.
The group continued their march throughout Brooklyn before meeting outside the Department of Education headquarters in the afternoon.
Pictured: a promotional banner for Friday’s demonstration in Park Slope, Brooklyn
Photos shared online showed teachers outside the headquarters in red, signifying solidarity to the cause, with a number of signs and banners.
Those messages read ‘We Demand Safe Schools,’ ‘We don’t trust the DOE, We don’t trust de Blasio’ and ‘Protect Teachers Lives.’
A tweet shared by NYC-DSA was accompanied with photos from the DOE headquarters. The tweet included the phrase ‘#WeWon’tDieFoeDOE.’
‘We must stand in solidarity with teachers parents students,’ the group wrote.
‘And we must also stand with the nurses who will treat us if we get sick. We must stand with the transit workers will operate the trains and buses when we need to see our ill loved ones.’
Some teachers added that they felt their life could be in danger if they returned to classrooms, while others have requested classes remain completely virtual until the city has no new COVID-19 cases for 14 days straight.
De Blasio has advocated for a hybrid opening because he thinks city children have faced a great disruption during the pandemic and would benefit from returning to schools.
He also argued that the move would also benefit working parents, who have struggled to navigate childcare and employment over the last six months.
This month, de Blasio and Mulgrew agreed to implement monthly testing to watch for potential outbreak and spread.
But around 15 per cent of New York City teachers have applied for COVID-19 medical exemptions, and critics have noted that random testing would not begin until weeks after classes pick up.
‘We’re all fighting for the same thing: a safe and successful school reopening,’ a DOE spokesperson told The Post.
‘We’ll continue to do the hard work of making that happen.’