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From The New York Times, I'm Michael Barbaro. This is a daily. We're full steam ahead for September, the goal, of course, to have the maximum number of kids in our schools as we begin school.


Amid a raging national debate over how to safely reopen schools, the nation's largest public school system, New York City, has pledged to let every student returned to the classroom, citing months of low infection rates.


Nothing replaces the in-person experience. There are some out there who suggest that remote education should be our future. And I want to say no, it can't be.


But from the start, it's been a messy process. Families are deeply divided about whether to send their children to school for two to three days a week, what the city is calling blended learning, or to opt for fully remote learning.


I don't see enough information for me to make a decision yet. So what's the schedule? I mean, how is it going to work with lunch?


I mean, all the stuff, it's not clear. While teachers fear that they aren't fully prepared for either option, I'm pissed off you would think that.


But the challenge that we are facing the city would have brought, it's a game and they they just today what the run up to the first day of school has looked like through the eyes of a single teacher, Iolani Grehan, who spoke to the D.


Lisa Chow. It's Friday, September 18th. Just come out of the 180 first subway station and I am headed to meet a teacher. Is that her? Hi, how are you? Good, how are you? My name is Lisa. Hi, Lisa. How are you? I'm doing well, thank you. Yeah, I like your mask. Thank you. OK, so let me so why don't you just tell me, like, where we are right now.


So we're in front of 40 on one eighty Sixth Street and Broadway in Washington Heights. And this is where I teach kindergarten to language. And how long have you been working here? This is my 15th year at the school. This is Miss Francis Shine. No cameras, just audio. Oh, even better. Wonderful. My good friend and colleague. Hi. I'm mispronounces. I'm your good friend and colleague. Are you walking with me? I'm going to walk with you.


All right. Cool. OK, see you tonight, Miss Frances. OK, so actually, let's just first describe describe what we're doing here, so I have a mask on. You have a mask on. We're walking to your home. And have you been doing this walk every day during training? I haven't done it every single day, but mostly, yeah, I feel a little antsy getting on the bus. I mean, it makes me anxious to get to be in the building as well, you know, and every day we hear, you know, oh, another school has positive cases.


Oh, another school has. I mean, I don't even know what number we're up to at this point. I think it's like fifty five teachers and, you know, they're expecting that and they've said they're expecting it. So what is it like the conversation among teachers? I mean, what has that been like? Like what are what are people feeling anxious. There isn't a lot of direction. The difficult part, what we were talking about today, some of my colleagues and I, you know, spending the entire day in a mask is really hard.


I can't even imagine, like teaching kindergarten, you know, through a mask. I have to do letters and letter sounds in two languages. I'm a dual language teacher, so I teach in English and in Spanish. What how does the math complicate things? Well, because they can't see my mouth. I think I'm going to get one of those with the the clear plastic or the where the lips are. Maybe maybe I'll invest in some of those.


What do you think? What do you think you would need to be like? What do you think the schools would need to be ready? We need to go remote for a little bit. You know, I'm I'm listening to doctors and scientists. I know that, you know, that's like controversial these days. But what I've been reading, experts are saying that we need to brace ourselves for this fall and winter. So why not? Like, we still have time to come up with meaningful remote lessons, learning we can meet about it.


We can create things together. We we've been so busy cleaning classrooms and setting them up like it's a regular school year. It feels like the higher ups are in denial. What do you mean? Well, we've been putting together our classrooms as if it were a regular year. Meanwhile, we're we've also been told be prepared to go remote at any given moment. How can I prepare to go remote at any given moment if I'm busy setting up a room?


I don't even know. I'm not even sure what's going to be allowed. I heard a rumor. I read it somewhere. I don't know how true it is that, you know, we're not going to be giving students paper and not collecting paper from them. So what am I doing in my teaching them on an iPad? I don't know. I don't know that yet. So what have your feelings been over the course of the past week and kind of coming into this week?


I go through waves of like anxiety and to being hopeful that it works out to just being worried. Am I going to be prepared? I need to do I need to know what I'm doing when I'm teaching in person. Like, is there somebody that's going to be teaching those kids when they're home, the kids. Right. That are blended, but when they're home, am I going to be responsible for that? How am I going to pull that off?


It's like three different jobs. Yes. Yes, it is. The full remote, the in-person and then the blended and then the blended remote. Yes. And I'm just I think about that, like, my eyes will pop open at three thirty in the morning and that's it for me. I'm awake, you know, and then my own, of course, personal situation where I can't bring this to my daughter and I could be asymptomatic and bring it home.


And that is what weighs on me the most, of course. Oh, my goodness. OK, so we just have arrived in your apartment building, yep, this is my building.


Hey, please come in. I'm just going to wash my hands, Lisa.


You just walk me through your routine. So I'm washing my hands. Usually when I get here, I go immediately to take a shower, but I'm not going to make you wait. So since I'm not going to do that today, I make sure to wash my hands. As a matter of fact, I usually take your shoes off and leave them by the door because my routine is to just go straight into the bathroom and shower and spray some Lysol in there.


This is la la la la la la la. That's Lisa. Lisa.


Yeah. According to what you guys are saying, it's just audio. It's no video. It's not your feet high. And Lisa, I mean, it's a 13 year old. Lisa.


Hi. What's your name? I'm Chloe. And what's your name?


OK, and let's go to let's go sit in the living room because it's easier. We're going to sit here because I am social assistance with Lisa from here. So can I can I sit on the couch identified by Mark Latham. Overgraze.


Lisa, come in. OK. So tell me about your kids, so my kids are great, they're very independent. Liam is an amazing, amazing big brother. He you know, he's very attentive with his sisters.


He will be in charge of remote learning because he's he's learning remotely. So they'll be home together. The three of them, the girls are obviously not going to go into the buildings. Chloe being immunocompromised. It's not advised that she go in the building. So they're going to be learning remotely.


And so on the walk, you were talking to me about how how this is this is weighing on you, obviously. And we didn't we didn't get into it much. But can you talk to me a little bit about that, like in terms of just your work and thinking about your family, like what keeps you up at night?


Possibly infecting my daughter. Absolutely. That's number one. She was born with a congenital heart defect. She had her heart transplant at about 15 months old.


Even though she has a heart transplant, she's a healthy girl. But, you know, there have been a lot of bumps in the road as well. There have been times that she's you know, we've done Christmas in the hospital for different things or whatever.


Whenever she does have a fever, you know, I have to bring her to the emergency room. She can't just, like, sit out a fever at home. She can't do that. So whenever she does. And why is that?


Because you don't know what it could be from. It could be her heart. I mean, rejection could sometimes show. In a fever, so, yeah, but, you know, but taking care of her and her heart is a full time job as well.


So this is something that you you live with day in and day out.


Yes, I'm very stressed out by it because I know for a fact that Chloe wouldn't do well with covid. She just wouldn't. I don't even like to really think about what could happen, but I know what could happen.


Let's go back to the end of the school year. So back in June, when school wrapped up, what was the message coming from your principal, from the mayor? Were city leaders basically saying we're going to be opening in person or there was no message?


There was no message. Nothing was said until about. Maybe sometime in late July, the mayor announced we will be reopening. Do you remember what your reaction was? Yeah, complete disbelief.


I could not believe that they were going to open this way with no real concrete plan.


Just pick a model. Let us know what the model is and make it work and principles then decided which of the models their school would be using as far as blended and remote families were told. You can your children can be remote only, but schools can go remote only, but teachers can write.


When the mayor announced that, you know, that schools would be reopening and have a blend of remote in person and you were in complete shock after that, like, then what happened? What did like and you have the situation at home with your daughter, like, were you reaching out to the dowi?


I, I, I filled out an application for remote accommodations. Immediately they came out, I believe they came out July 15th, a few days after the announcement was made, so teachers could apply for remote accommodations based on their own health. I applied anyway, and I submitted a letter from my daughter's transplant team immediately denied because I'm not the one at risk.


But it just doesn't make sense when you look at the CDC list of possible health issues that you have in order to receive remote accommodations at the very top, that one of the top three things is immunocompromised because of a solid organ transplantation.


It literally says it. OK, so I'm not the one with the solid organ transplantation, but my daughter is and we're dealing with a highly infectious virus. It just doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make any sense. My daughter's car, what are her cardiologists actually asked me the last time we spoke, are you going to stay home?


And I was like, no. They were like, what are you really? Do you need a letter? What do you need?


And I was like, no, you guys have given me what I would need. But it's not it's not enough.


So it's just tonight it was flat, flat out denied, and I've had advocates that have pushed for me from the city and the city has told. There's a person that has been pushing for me, I taught her daughter, coincidentally, she happens to work for a New York senator a coincidence, right?


And she said to me that when she's asked about it or pushed for it, what the city has said to her, the deal she has said to her is that teachers should sure she doesn't have one of these.


Listed conditions, it's like, of course, I'm sure if I who wouldn't be sure of their own health?


Are you trying to get me to come up with a condition like what are you doing?


Why would they ask? Are you sure that's been twice? Yes, I'm sure. You know, and I'm not going to lie. I do not smoke. And thankfully, I am healthy. My daughter's condition should be enough.


So you think that they're trying to push you into saying that you have one of these conditions so you can get exempt but not tell the truth, which is that you don't have these conditions, but your daughter does?


Yeah. What are you supposed to make of that? It sounds like they may want to help you, but also, you know, they're trying to follow the rules.


It's just not the way things are supposed to be done. We'll be right back. 3M is using science and innovation to help the world respond to covid-19 and taking action to support communities in the fight. Since the outbreak, 3M has responded with cash and product donations, including surgical masks, hand sanitizer and respirators through local and global aid partners. In addition, 3M is on track to produce two billion respirators globally by the end of 2020. Learn how else 3M is helping the world respond to covid-19.


Go to 3M dot com slash covid. 3M Science Applied to Life.


Hi, this is Kara Swisher and I want to talk to you about my new podcast for the New York Times called Hsueh.


When you hear someone influential, a business leader or a cultural icon or God forbid, a politician telling us about themselves and they're like, we're going to end world hunger or cure cancer or we're going to revolutionize the tech industry, if only you'll buy our product. And it just sounds like they're reading from a press release.


Yet we don't learn much from talking points. If you want to know what people who hold power in our world are really all about, you need to hear how they answer the tough questions. And that is my specialty. That's why I'm teaming up with The New York Times for a new podcast called Hsueh. I'm going to talk to some big names, but also some names you may not recognize but need to know. And although it might get messy, in fact, it's guaranteed to be messy.


It's going to be really fun, too.


You can get the first episode of Hsueh Monday, September 21st, wherever you get your podcasts.


So so you're you're asking for an exemption, but I'm just wondering, why do you feel like. That teachers, if they didn't have. High risk people living at home with them and they didn't have these conditions listed on the CDC, you know, website.


Do you think that they should be teaching in person? No, they should not be in person teaching it can be done remotely and it can be done well remotely.


All we needed was some time to get it done and some real training on it and maybe the city by a platform for it that everybody can use or have a choice of platforms there.


There are so many resources out there and the city chose not to.


Do you know your schedule next week yet?


No, I don't know yet. So so there could be days where I mean, is are all five days, are you going to have some sort of in-person interactions or are there going to be some.


Oh, yes. Next week, as in the week of the 21st. Yeah, they're coming. The kids are coming. I'm getting group A on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and then Group B Thursday, Friday and the following Monday. And then group A again Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. And then group like it's what job can anybody have where they say, hey, only two days out of the week off some weeks, three days, what days?


I don't know. It's going to constantly rotate. What job is going to do that for people?


How are people going to go back to work? How fraught does this moment feel for you, like in terms of just conversations with your non teacher friends, like conversations with with friends who are parents who are really struggling at home with kids because their kids are are learning remotely like it does?


Does it feel sometimes like there's just a constant running tension between sometimes between parents and teachers? Yes.


Yes, there is.


As you know, especially under these circumstances, there are people out there and parents out there that think that old teachers are putting up a fight because they don't want to go back to work.


These parents, I think some of them are under the assumption that we were home doing nothing. In the spring, when that is not the case, we were. We were home behind the computer and some of us were very anxious about just our computer skills.


And feeling like, oh, my God, am I doing enough? Am I doing enough? Am I doing enough? That was the running question in my mind all day, every day during the spring in my assigning enough. I don't want it to be too much. It is a pandemic, but I don't want it to be too little where it seems like I'm not doing my job. It's just crazy. And yeah, there have been parents.


I have made some comments like, you know, like we just don't want to go to work. That's not the case. Remote was not easy. So it's not it's not a walk in the park to go remote either, it's just about safety at this point. This is like a cluster, you know what I mean?


Gosh, it's so disorganized, but here we are running back to school six months in.


And I feel like, you know, if I were the mayor and I opened up New York City schools, the largest school district in the nation, that would look pretty cool on my resume, on my political resume. Do you think this is like a political move for him? Partly, yep. I do. In terms of the question of like kids falling behind, you know, like that is a concern that Mayor de Blasio has talked about kids falling behind.


You know, we have, you know, the number of kids in especially in New York City, the number of kids that are poor, the number of kids that are with special needs, and this idea of being out of school without in-person instruction since March.


But, you know, what do you think of that?


Well, I think that those are real concerns, especially around the area of those students with special needs.


OK, but we are in a global pandemic. So when we think about kids falling behind, yeah, it is a real concern. And I get it because I'm a mom, too. But I also think about it as a teacher. Like falling behind.


What? Their home safe, healthy and alive. If your kid's alive and healthy, we can work on it. How are teachers communicating with each other during this time?


Well, those of us that know each other personally, you know, we call we zone. We have group chats going. We have a page on Facebook for teachers only where you can post anonymously or you can comment on somebody's post.


And this is how we like find out about a lot of the other conditions and other buildings aside from our own, you know, like. Do you want to read some of the comments that you're reading? Yeah, like somebody wrote today, you know, day five in the building and no temperature checks. What are we waiting for? Anybody else's protective Plexiglas, not clear, can't see out of it. Somebody wrote, I still don't know what I'm teaching.


I have spent almost 100 percent of my time getting devices ready for and out to families teaching a new grade. I'm so overwhelmed and so confused that another one.


And then they there there were there's also this going on with this this is people are also posting like about the people that we lost in the union, you know, and posting up pictures and just saying, you know, we should be thinking about them at this time, too, you know, which is true.


Which is true. What is that specifically? Do you want to read that one? This one is about a teacher. I'm not going to say her name, but she was fifty two years old and she was a wonderful teacher, active, enthusiastic member of the school community. She mentored new teachers. She reached out to students with disabilities or those having a difficult time at home and was always there to applaud performances. Just, you know, what a wonderful person she was.


It's a long, long post. And she passed away on Saturday, April 4th, 16 days after schools were closed. That's heavy and and the whole thing has been out of the mayor's mouth. Kids need this. They need it. They need it. They need it. Yes, they do. I I agree. At what cost? Do you ever think about getting sick? Yeah. I've thought about it, I've I've of course, I've thought about it, I'm just so overwhelmed with.


Chloe's situation that I haven't given much thought, you know, it's not written anywhere that if I do get sick that I'm not going to be the one to have a hard time with it. So, yeah, I mean, I've thought about it. Of course I have. But, you know, my immediate thought is, oh, my God, if I do, I'm going to bring it home. That's my more immediate thought always about bringing it home.


And what if I have to quarantine because I've been around someone or one of my students and say, oh, they closed down my class?


Where do I go do that? I've already came up with a plan with my coworker that you met because she's one of my very best friends. I've said to her, if I call you and I tell you that I have to quarantine before I can go home, you have to go and get my kids out and get them to pack. Put them in and we'll put them in an Uber. Airport. And they're going to North Carolina. That's where Liam's father lives.


And that's that that's your plan, if I have to quarantine, they got to get out of here because where am I going to go? I can't go quarantine in somebody's. House, I'll put them in danger. So if I have to quarantine, they got to go before I walk in the house. That's a ridiculous way to live. And quarantining, I mean, that just means that like a kid in your class tests positive or was exposed and they decide that we need to quarantine.


Yes, I mean, that could very well happen. Oh, absolutely. Of course it could happen. Of course.


I mean, our numbers are good, but they're not zero, so it absolutely could happen.


Absolutely. At any given moment. I could have to quarantine because of either the class or maybe the school itself, whatever the reason. And if I have to quarantine, they got to go. You feel very strongly about that. Yes, I will not quarantine with my kids in this house, especially not with Chloe in this house. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. So this morning, I start with our clear, strong dedication to our public schools and to in-person learning.


On Thursday, two days after Lisa spoke with Iolani Grehan, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, to lead the start of in-person classes.


I also want to be clear and very straightforward about the fact that real concerns have been raised by my colleagues.


During a news conference, the mayor acknowledged that the city had failed to overcome the obstacles to bringing students back and that teachers and administrators are not yet comfortable with the city's preparations.


Yesterday morning, they reached out to me and they said they had real concerns about specific things that had to be done to make sure our schools could start and effectively start safely. And although they acknowledged that some real progress had been made, that not enough had been made and more had to be done to make sure that things would be as strong as they needed to be.


Instead of opening on Monday as planned, elementary schools, including Green's class, will open on September 29th. Middle and high schools will open even later on October 1st. We'll be right back. The Daily is supported by First Republic Bank, experienced personalized banking from the comfort of your home with a newly redesigned first public mobile app, you can schedule upcoming payments, manage your debit card and talk to your banker any time anywhere. The First Republic app is available now in the App Store and Google Play.


Visit First Republic Dotcom Slash Digital to learn more. That's First Republic Dotcom Digital Member, FDIC Equal Housing Lender. Here's what else you need to know. I have been a Republican for my entire life. I am. A McCain Republican. I am a Bush Republican and I am voting for Joe Biden because I truly believe we are at a time of constitutional crisis.


In an unusual move to former Trump administration, officials are endorsing Joe Biden, saying that President Trump has badly mismanaged the pandemic and the presidency.


It was shocking to see the president saying that the virus was a hoax, saying that everything's OK when we know that it's not.


The officials aren't. Josh Venable, former chief of staff to Betsy Davos, the secretary of education, and Olivia Troy, a top homeland security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, who recorded a video explaining her decision.


The truth is he doesn't actually care about anyone else but himself.


And officials in New Jersey have agreed to adopt a so-called millionaire's tax to alleviate shortfalls caused by the coronavirus in what may become a model for budget strapped states across the country.


We do not hold any grudge at all against those who have been successful in life. But in this unprecedented time when so many middle class families and others have sacrificed so much.


Now is the time to ensure that the wealthiest among us are also called to sacrifice and literally by the measure, would tax earnings over one million dollars at ten point seventy five percent, up from the current rate of eight point nine seven percent and is expected to raise nearly 400 million dollars over the next year. The Daly is made by Feel Malcolm. Andy Mills, Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lindsey Garrison, Annie Brown, Claire Tennis Geter. Paige Kowit.


Michael Simon Johnson. Brad Fisher. Larissa Anderson. Wendy Dor. Chris Wood. Jessica Chang. Stella Tannen. Alexandra Lelong. Lisa Chow. Eric Kripke. Mark George. Luke Vandersloot Kelly from Julia Longoria Sindhu. Jonah Summon MJ Davis Lyn Austin Mitchell. Nina Pontac. Dan Powell. Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guimet, Hanz Butoh, Robert Jimerson, Mike Benowa. Bianca gave us the Chaturvedi, Rashelle Banjar and Liz Oberlin. Our theme music is by Jim Grundberg and Ben Landsburg of Wonderly.


Special thanks to Sam Domecq, McKayla Bouchard, Lauren Jackson, Julia Simon, Nora Keller, Mahima Chobani and Des Iboga. That's it for The Daily. I'm Michael Barbaro. See you on Monday.