A group of parents in New York City have filed a lawsuit against Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools chancellor Meisha Porter in order to try and get public schools to return to in-person learning.
The Gothamist reported that a group of nearly two dozen parents with children in New York City public schools filed the lawsuit in State Supreme Court on Tuesday, arguing the city’s coronavirus restrictions are keeping their children from receiving a proper education and leading to depression and suicidal thoughts.
Natalya Murakhver, the woman leading the group of Upper West Side mothers who filed the lawsuit, told the Gothamist that her children, aged 7 and 10, were struggling without in-person learning.
“On the days they’re in person they’re thriving, they look energized and inspired,” Murakhver, told the outlet. “On days they’re doing remote they look glazed, like zombies.”
The mothers wrote in their lawsuit that New York City’s refusal to provide in-person teaching five days a week violates the state’s Constitution “because it does not amount to a sound, basic education for the children.”
The parents point out that returning to full in-person learning “poses no risk of increased COVID-19 transmission, nor has there been any credible proof or data offered of any such claim, whether in the State of New York or elsewhere.” They add that, conversely, New York City’s refusal to fully reopen schools “put at risk the futures of an entire generation of New York City children and have long term implications for economic stability in the city.”
The Gothamist reported that more than half of New York City schools are open for five-day in-person learning, adding that it is “unclear how many students are actually attending school on a full-time basis.”
“Around 315,000 students are learning in school buildings at least some of the week, with another 51,000 kids set to return on April 26th,” the outlet added.”
The parents suing the mayor and school chancellor, however, say that the claim that more than half the city’s students have returned to five-day-a-week class instruction is misleading, since many of the students are in the classroom without a teacher, who appears virtually on a screen. The parents contend that de Blasio is ignoring the science because he is beholden to the United Federation of Teachers.
“There was a social contract when we made teachers essential workers,” Murakhver said last week at a press conference. “When they accepted that status, that meant that once they got vaccinated, they were needed back in the classroom.”
In response to the lawsuit, mayoral spokesperson Avery Cohen called the state’s reopening plan the “gold standard.”
“We have more students in classrooms than any other city in America, and all of our schools are open for in-person learning, with the majority offering in-person learning 5 days a week,” Cohen said, according to the Gothamist. “It’s clear that New York City has set the reopening gold standard for districts across the country, and we will review this suit when it’s filed.”