New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks during a press conference in New York on January 13.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams told reporters Thursday that he’s in talks with teachers’ union leadership and will consider a temporary remote learning option. His comments come less than one week after saying a remote learning option didn’t make sense to him.
“What we want to do, we want to provide the safest place for our children and we want to have our children in school. I am working closely with the president of the UFT,” Adams said during a news conference. “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.”
The comments were a contrast to 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 during past periods of the pandemic were not effective. He said remote learning negatively impacted children without proper access to Wi-Fi and technology and said he would need time to build out a proper remote learning option that addressed these issues.
“The last time we did a remote option, children were not learning, and you can’t have a false remote option. I am going to build out one of the best remote learning processes in our country, but I need time to do so. But the product we did was inferior. We can’t continue to hurt the education of our children. And think about the children where English is a second language, or those children who live in homeless shelters and don’t have access to Wi-Fi or don’t have two to three meals a day,” Adams said last week.
Today, Adams said that while he’s willing to talk with teacher union leadership about a remote learning option, his goal remains to keep children in school.
“I’m willing to sit down and entertain with the UFT if there is a way to do a temporary remote option, you know if we can do it, and it is a quality option, but my goal – 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.
Some background: New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks told CNN Wednesday that he would be meeting with some student leaders who walked out of classrooms on Tuesday, demanding remote learning in the wake of the latest Covid-19 surge in cases.
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.
“I certainly appreciate any time students raise their voices to be heard, and those young people are saying we want to be heard, and we’re going to meet with them, we’ll listen to them, we’ll consider everything they’re feeling,” Banks told CNN’s Kate Bolduan Wednesday. “I understand and I empathize with where they are, but I think we also are very focused on making sure we keep schools open.”
New York City is the largest school district in the United States and serves nearly 1.1 million students, according to its website.
CNN’s Mirna Alsharif, Laura Ly, and Elizabeth Stuart contributed to this report.