Lydia Howlrikka came home exhausted in the final day of school before the XmAs vacation. She took a day or two to cool down and then sprung up to take this issue on.
There is a lot of coverage of this story in the press and the City Corp Council has touched based with her to tell her they will oppose the suit. She also heard from the judge who seems to have postponed the case until after the time runs out for this to be acted on.
James hit on the story early on and got thousands of hits and Lydia got thousands of signatures.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 2, 2022
NEW YORK: Lydia Howrilka is a union organizer and is an activist dedicated to fighting for safer schools for all school based staff and students who are returning to in-person classes on Monday, January 3rd. She believes that the aging infrastructure and inadequate HVAC systems in NYC public schools is not enough to keep staff and students safe from COVID. She also believes that Mayor Adams’ reopening plan, “Stay Safe, Stay Open,” is inadequate for keeping all communities and constituents safe.
On December 30, Howrilka and her union caucus, UFT Solidarity, filed a pro se Article 78 with a TRO to halt the reopening of NYC schools until there is an adequate universal testing protocol in place, students and staff are required to submit a negative PCR before entering the building the week of January 3, and that the first 2 weeks (from January 3 to January 18) be remote only while testing results are processed.
Alarmed at what they have concluded is a dangerous and unsustainable safety plan, public school educators affiliated with Solidarity, the second largest caucus of the United Federation of Teachers, filed this special litigation pro-se. The litigation came after a long period of reflection and discussion within Solidarity’s membership who had become alarmed by the rejection of remote learning and inadequate safety and testing protocols in their schools. UFT Solidarity polled UFT membership and learned the following startling conclusions:
88% of UFT staffers polled stated that, “No, all adults in my school cannot get a COVID test.”
75% of UFT staffers polled stated that, “To my knowledge, my school community is rarely or never informed when tests are slated to take place.
UFT Solidarity and Howrilka’s concern is heightened by the amount of pediatric infections and hospitalizations due to the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19, in addition to innumerable health complications among the many members who are still recovering from COVID-19 related illness.
Howrilka is seeking a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) “prohibiting [DOE] from forcing herself and all similarly situated to report to work in person on or about January 3, 2022,” preventing the loss of Cumulative Absence Reserve (“CAR”) and sick leave days, and compelling DOE to permit Petitioners to teach remotely.
Howrilka states, “We have been telling the City for almost two years that school buildings are not safe! Schools do not have enough funding to maintain adequate ventilation. The CDC has stated that the coronavirus can spread beyond six feet in the air between people. The science behind this virus is constantly shifting and changing every day. At this time, schools are not safe for students and staff! We must be fully remote until we can have better access to testing or until the post-holiday surge of COVID subsides.”