His comments came after Michael Mulgrew, president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, told “Good Day New York” last week that Adams was considering a remote learning option.
“Our schools are open,” Adams said during a Tuesday press conference. “… We were clear from the beginning — and I don’t want anyone to get this mixed up — our schools are going to remain open. We are not going to do anything that is going to stop our children from going into schools. We are saying this over and over and over again. … Our schools are going to remain open.”
Adams said his administration decided on “day one” not to close schools.
“While other cities closed around us, we were clear in our message,” Adams said. “We did not give parents the uncertainty that we have viewed previously. We were very clear — our schools were going to remain open, and we pushed through the thoughts that the schools were going to close, and parents had a foundational understanding that their children had a place to go in the morning.”
Thousands of schools across the U.S. closed in early January after the holidays break due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases, as well as severe winter weather. Students at Brooklyn Technical High School staged a walkout last week in protest of in-person learning.
Chicago’s school district recently made headlines after going head-to-head with the Chicago Teachers Union, which was demanding remote classes until an agreement was reached with the school district for additional COVID-19 safety measures. Classes were canceled for five days before the two entities reached a deal.
Adams attributed the city’s ability to keep schools and businesses open with residents’ efforts to get vaccinated and reduce their risk of experiencing severe virus symptoms. More than 16 million New Yorkers have been vaccinated, and 2.5 million have received their booster shots, the new mayor said Tuesday. Approximately 74% of New York City’s population has been fully vaccinated.
About 96% of New York City teachers were vaccinated as of November, according to The New York Times.
The White House and Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona have voiced support for keeping schools open amid the pandemic. The U.S. Surgeon General and American Academy of Pediatrics have warned of the impact school closures have had on children’s mental health and academic performance.
The White House announced last week that a dedicated stream of 5 million rapid tests and 5 million lab-based PCR tests will be made available to schools starting this month to ease supply shortages and promote the safe reopening of schools.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.