Summer vacation is finally ending for the city's 1.1 million public school students.
Remote learning begins Wednesday, in-classroom instruction next Monday.
“I’m excited but I also don’t feel safe going back to school," said student Will Wohlsen.
Wohlsen, who is entering fourth grade at PS 139 in Flatbush, went to his school Monday to support his teachers; they're rallying because they too are worried about starting in-person learning next week after they say a staff member tested positive Friday for COVID-19.
With the support of their union and parents, the teachers expressed their concerns with the department of education.
"Until we have more promises, real promises, not just things they say, until we are sure we can actually be safe in our building, and be ready to be in the building and be present, we can not go in there yet," said Megan Jonynas, UFT Chair Leader and Music Teacher at PS 139.
Specifically, the teachers said they need more spending on school cleaning, better ventilation and increased staffing for the school's blended learning program.
They also want more transparency from the city about safety protocols, adding there have been problems receiving working thermometers and social distancing floor decals.
A similar day of action was held at at least five other schools, including the Murry Bergtraum High School For Business Careers in Lower Manhattan.
"This building is not safe, two bathrooms all students and staff," one staff member said.
More than 50 Education Department employees have tested positive for the coronavirus since Wednesday, when staff reported back to school to prepare for the academic year.
Parents said they are worried teachers are contracting the virus.
“We’ve been anxiously hoping that our kids can return to school at least on blended learning and to do so safely, and we’ve been so dissapointed to hear the last week that our staff came back into school all of the problems that they’re encountering and the total lack of information” said Juno Turner, a parent.
The DOE said the custodial staff at PS 139 is fully trained, the building is cleaned nightly, and its windows provide adequate natural ventilation.
In a statement, a departmant official said: “While we continue to navigate the realities of a pandemic, there will be positive cases—we are putting people’s health above everything else by quickly identifying and isolating positive cases, which is a leading effort to prevent transmission.”