The city will not be able to open its middle- and high schools because it lacks sufficient ability to test students and staff for COVID-19, the leader of the teachers’ union says.
“The city is barely managing all the aspects of the current random testing program and tracing requirements,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement to The Post.
“They are not prepared to handle any additional schools.”
After closing all schools for three weeks, the city Department of Education in December reopened only elementary schools for grades K to 5 and District 75 schools for children with disabilities, offering in-person classes up to five days a week.
In doing so, the DOE agreed to test 20 percent of students and staff in 850 schools and early childhood education centers once a week. Kids and employees testing positive for COVID-19 are sent home to quarantine, and classrooms or buildings are closed for as long as 10 days.
But middle and high schools stayed shut, conducting all instruction remotely.
Mulgrew’s comments indicated those schools for grades 6 to 12 may not reopen for the rest of the school year until testing can ramp up significantly.
DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer said the city is aiming to do so.
“We are consistently testing beyond the 20 percent threshold each week. By every measure, our approach is working, as New York City remains the only major school system to offer in-person instruction to hundreds of thousands of children,” he said.
“We look forward to adapting our successful testing model to serve our middle and high school students as quickly as possible.”
Styer would not estimate a date for a further reopening.
Mulgrew told the Wall Street Journal last week that the looming vaccine shortage, affecting educators and other essential workers, may further jeopardize efforts to return schools to normal any time soon.