Teachers union boss Mulgrew backs cancelling spring break over coronavirus

New York City teachers’ union president Mike Mulgrew is calling on his members to back Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial decision to cancel spring break and instead continue distance learning courses with students -– telling educators they are needed now more than ever to help break the grip of the coronavirus.

In an at-times emotional five-minute video address to his members, Mulgrew said teachers are being “asked to step up” because the next three weeks will be “critical” in determining whether the COVID-19 rages for another “six weeks or another six months.”

Mulgrew did say teachers will be off next Thursday and Friday — April 9-10 — for the first two days of the Jewish holiday of Passover, which coincides with the christian Holy Thursday and Good Friday that precede Easter.

Spring break was scheduled to be from April 9-17. But teachers will now continue remote instruction classes on Monday, April 13.

Mulgrew said he spoke to city Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza about altering the e-classes instruction a bit that week to focus on “family services and support.”

“I know many of you are upset and you feel it’s not fair,” Mulgrew said, praising the teachers’ “extraordinary work in difficult circumstances.”

But he added, “We are now entering a critical phase for this crisis. … The next three weeks will determine whether [the COVID-19 pandemic] will be for six more weeks or another six months.”

Mulgrew said the teachers and their remote instruction has become “one of the biggest lifelines” in helping prevent the spread of the coronavirus by keeping students home with their families.

“Now we’re being asked to step up even more than what we’ve already have been doing,” Mulgrew said, adding, “We have to embrace this challenge, take it on.”

“What we are doing now has become a critical lifeline to every family,” he said.

He told the teachers to think about nurses who are going into harm’s way to treat patients sickened with COVID-19.

“We’re all in this together,” he said.

Gov. Cuomo’s office praised educators for sticking with the program to help tame the COVID-19 health crisis.

“After some time to establish and begin implementing distance learning plans, educators are executing these plans at high levels and it is critical to continue educational time for our students,” said Cuomo spokesman Jason Conwall.

“More importantly, we need to flatten the curve to stop the spread of this virus and continuing distance instruction is one key way to do it. This is an all-hands on deck situation and we appreciate all the work of educators all across the state to help our students get through this.”

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