New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks are tasked with implementing a plan to test, trace and keep children and staff members safe.

Adams and Banks, while visiting Concourse Village Elementary School and P17X in the Bronx, discussed the beginnings of their “Stay Safe and Stay Open” plan to keep the school year going without a hitch. The duo promoted the idea of the program to those in attendance. It’s a program whose idea sprouted from the end of the previous administration.

Right before leaving City Hall, former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, Adams and New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled the program for New Yorkers.

“Way over the past two weeks, positivity rates…have jumped from 7.7 to 21.7%,” Adams said during the announcement. “That’s enough to be concerned. Hospitalizations. It’s all [on] the rise as well. But basically, the data suggests something that we must really focus on, it’s milder for vaccinated people. We need to be clear with vaccinations and boosters. Those are the best weapons in our arsenal to deal with COVID. That is the most important message we’re going to continue to hammer home.”

The biggest part of the project is the expansion of in-school testing with a cross agency effort to make sure results are known early. If someone tests positive, they will be isolated so class can continue for those who tested negative. Staff members and students who were in a classroom with a positive COVID recipient will be given two take home rapid tests to identify any more positives. Staff members will be given two take home rapid tests this month.

Jasmine Gripper, executive director, Alliance for Quality Education, hopes that the powers that be keep things under control in a time where things seem uncontrollable.

“As the virus once again surges across New York State, we need to ensure that New York’s schools can remain open by taking steps now to reduce the spread of COVID elsewhere,” said Gripper in a statement. “We call on Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams to reimpose restrictions on businesses and other nonessential institutions, expand access to COVID testing and make remote learning available to families who want it. If we truly value our schools and the education of our children, we must take all other steps possible to quell the spread of COVID before once again resorting to school closures.”

“Stay Safe and Stay Open” looks to double the number of people tested, vaccinated and unvaccinated, while working with medical experts in the process. The DOE will also establish a “COVID Command Center” with borough and district workers who will work with the city to gather info in order to speed up the protocol process. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said, in a recent statement, that he hopes it’s an improvement to the last mayor’s “Situation Room.”

“We’re also glad that after weeks of lobbying, both the current and the incoming administrations, the Situation Room is being rebuilt, after basically coming apart in the last several weeks, and that the system will increase its ability to provide PCR tests to more adults and children,” said Mulgrew.

Schools Chancellor David Banks stated that he was ready to work with Adams and the DOE.

“From increased testing to PPE, we are making sure that our schools are safe, and we work closely with our labor partners, parents, and community members to ensure our schools stay safely open,” stated Banks.

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