Sept. 1 (UPI) — New York City public schools will open Sept. 21, 11 days later than originally scheduled, under an agreement reached Tuesday between Mayor Bill de Blasio and teachers unions.
De Blasio and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew announced the deal in a joint televised briefing, averting a possible teachers’ strike at the largest U.S. public school system over health and safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have all worked together in a constructive manner over the last few days to determine the best way forward for our school system,” de Blasio said. “Real, powerful issues had to be discussed and resolutions had to be found. But everyone did so in a constructive spirit.”
Under the deal, the original starting date for in-person classes was shifted from Sept. 10 to Sept. 21, allowing teachers extra time for additional preparation. A three-day transitional remote learning period will begin Sept. 16, followed by a physical return to classes.
The agreement came a day after UFT’s executive board said it could vote to authorize the first teachers strike in New York since 1975 by Tuesday if there was no deal reached.
Their demands included a “rigorous virus testing program” as well as adequate personal protective equipment and improved ventilation in classrooms.
Mulgrew called the agreement a national example of “how to get things done” and said union health experts had determined that New York City schools will now have the most “aggressive policies and greatest safeguards” in the country.