Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday insisted there’s no “battle” brewing with the head of the city’s teachers’ union over his decision to keep schools open amid the COVID-19 wave.
“We’re not in a battle with the teachers’ union,” Adams said on CNN’s “New Day” — a day after United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew warned that remote learning may soon be necessary in the Big Apple.
“We are [in] lockstep. … I speak to Michael Mulgrew three times a day. … Michael Mulgrew and I are on the same page that we need to create a safe environment.”
Adams doubled down, “There’s no battle between Michael Mulgrew and Eric Adams. And I’m not going to submit to people believing that there’s a conflict between the two of us when we speak three times a day.”
Adams, who took office on Saturday, expressed frustration with suggestions that he is quarreling with the teachers’ union.
“Because we have a difference of opinion one one issue, we cannot feed into hysteria. This is traumatizing our children,” he said on the morning program. “Adults must stop traumatizing children. We must stop giving the appearance that there’s hysteria among those who are making the decisions.”
The mayor’s assertions come after Mulgrew warned in-person learning may soon not be feasible — and after a number of students on Monday returned to the classroom after winter break to find their teachers out sick with COVID.
“We’ve seen throughout the last week, throughout the metro area, there’s been higher absenteeism in all industries,” Mulgrew said at a Manhattan school Monday morning.
“If the entire [school] system has a large number of people who are out, then we would have to look at the entire system having to go to a remote situation.”
On Sunday, the UFT issued the same warning in a memo that said, “We advised the new mayor that it would be safest to allow our school system to go remote temporarily until we could get a handle on the staffing challenges that each school is about to face as we return.”
“We are determined to do everything in our power to keep our school communities safe when schools are open, and our work with the city and the DOE over the break has resulted in more expansive testing protocols and other new safety measures,” Mulgrew added in the email.
When asked Tuesday morning by CNN’s Brianna Keilar if he believes there’s “no circumstance” where he would consider it unsafe to keep schools open for in-person instruction, Adams responded, “That’s not true at all,” before saying he would heed the advice of “medical professionals” on the matter.
“So as long as I have smart, talented medical professionals that’s giving me good advice, I’m going to follow that advice and then when it’s necessary to shift, they will tell me when to do so,” he explained.
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