No days off: NYC reverses course and cancels entire spring break

New York City teachers will have no spring break this year, city officials announced Friday night, a move that immediately generated outrage from the teachers union directed at Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“With this step, Mayor de Blasio shows that he does not recognize just how hard you have been working during these stressful and anxiety-filled times,” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew wrote in a Friday evening letter to teachers.

Before the spread of the new coronavirus forced schools statewide to shut down, New York City had scheduled spring break April 9-17, a total of seven school days. But the state earlier this week released guidance that schools should continue instruction even through this previously scheduled vacation time. 

At first, it seemed teachers would at least be off for two major religious holidays that fall during the original break: April 9 and 10, which mark the first two days of Passover. April 10 is also Good Friday. That changed late Friday night, when the union announced to its members that the mayor had decided to keep class in session for the entirety of the previously scheduled break. 

Most regional enrichment centers, which educate the children of first responders, and food hubs will also remain open.

City officials suggested that canceling the break was a public health measure.

“We are confident that continuing remote learning will help ensure that families adhere to social distancing in the coming weeks, which is imperative to slowing the spread of the virus and keeping New Yorkers safe,” Carranza told educators in a letter sent Friday. 

Teachers who still want to take those two days off must use “accrued leave,” according to the letter. In a tweet, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said remote learning would continue “for students who aren’t observing.”

“We recognize this may feel like a disappointment to many students and schools as we have all been working tirelessly in our transition to remote learning and very reasonably want a break,” Carranza wrote.

“We have finalized arrangements with our union partners at this time to provide four additional leave days to school-based staff who otherwise would have had Spring Recess. We will have additional details to share about these arrangements in the week ahead.” 

Mulgrew told members that the union will negotiate for extra compensation for the additional days. “I will do everything in my power to see that you are properly compensated for your time,” Mulgrew said in the letter.

The sudden change sparked outrage from educators across the city. The teachers union’s official Twitter account retweeted teachers who blasted de Blasio as “disgusting,” “disgraceful,” and “disrespectful.” 

Numerous teachers tweeted criticism of the city’s decision Friday night.