More than two dozen city and state lawmakers are calling on Mayor Eric Adams to offer a temporary remote learning option for students at the city’s public schools—amid a record-breaking surge of COVID-19 cases.
Three Queens legislators, who are parents of young children themselves, are spearheading the call as students returned to school this week across the five boroughs.
State Sen. Jessica Ramos, Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas and Council Member Shekar Krishnan penned a letter to Adams Thursday to demand a virtual learning option for two weeks until Jan. 18. The letter was signed by 24 additional state and city lawmakers, including several from Queens.
The legislators said the extra time will allow parents to get their children vaccinated and tested for COVID-19 to slow its spread. It will also give schools, they added, more time to receive shipments of masks, testing kits and other items to institute universal weekly and baseline COVID-19 testing.
Students returned to school this week after the holiday break. About 67 percent of students returned to the classroom Monday as COVID cases across all age groups topped 33,400 that same day, according to city data.
“This demonstrates the hesitance by many parents to return their children to schools as the virus
continues to transmit in high numbers,” the lawmakers said in the letter.
The officials noted that they are not calling for a fully-remote school year. They only want the virtual option to be temporary to keep students safe until COVID-19 cases slow down.
“To be clear, we are not asking for the closure of schools but simply an adaptable response to an increasingly alarming issue impacting the health of New Yorkers,” they wrote.
The legislators said they are concerned that faculty and students will have trouble focusing on teaching and learning when they are worried about contracting the virus. They said the two weeks off would allow them time to get tested and vaccinated and have some peace of mind.
“Providing families the time to test and vaccinate their families will provide benefits in the long term and slow the spread of COVID-19 transmissions.”
The letter was also signed by Queens Assembly Members Andrew Hevesi and Catherine Nolan, Queens Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Michael Gianaris and Queens Council Members Sandra Ung, Tiffany Cabán, Linda Lee, and Lynn Schulman among others.
A spokesperson for the mayor’s office didn’t immediately return a request for comment.