A New York City teachers union is encouraging its members to document issues related to the city’s newly-revised quarantine procedures by uploading unidentifiable photos of students who violate those rules.
In a change of course, Mayor Bill de Blasio last week dropped the policy of requiring unvaccinated students to quarantine for 10 days if someone in their class tests positive for COVID-19. The new rule, consistent with the latest federal guidance, states that the exposed students will no longer have to quarantine if they “correctly and consistently” wear a mask and keep a 3-foot physical distance from others.
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which represents most of New York City’s public school teachers, opened an online portal encouraging its teachers to document quarantine rule violations. The form allows UFT members to provide information, such as students’ names and contact numbers, the name and location of their school, and up to five photos.
“Please use this form to document any issues in your classroom related to these new quarantine guidelines, including situations where students are seated with less than three feet of distance,” the online form says. “You may submit photos and/or describe interactions with the DOE’s [Department of Education’s] test and trace investigators.
“If sending photos, try as best as you can to use photos that show only the backs of students’ heads. Don’t include student faces, or blur student faces,” it adds.
The union faced criticism on social media after sharing the link of its online form on Twitter, with some calling it snitch culture, while many others said it would be inappropriate for teachers to take pictures of children without parental consent.
The union’s move comes as New York City’s school staffing crisis due to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate eased after a judge for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request to put the mandate on pause.
A group of employees at New York City’s DOE sued over the mandate, which stated that they had until the end of the day on Sept. 27 to show proof of at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. They argued that the order was government overreach and a violation to their constitutional rights.
The DOE said it is confident that the mandate will ultimately be upheld “once all the facts have been presented, because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve.”
“Our current vax-or-test mandate remains in effect and we’re seeking speedy resolution by the Circuit Court next week,” the DOE said in a statement. “Over 82 percent of DOE employees have been vaccinated and we continue to urge all employees to get their shot by Sept. 27.”