NEW ROCHELLE, NY — While almost all employees of the City School District of New Rochelle were sent home when the schools were closed last Friday — two days after Governor Andrew Cuomo effectively shut down New Rochelle High School, Albert Leonard Middle School and William B. Ward Elementary School by declaring a 1 mile radius around Young Israel New Rochelle a “Containment Zone”, a handful have continued to report to work including a few administrators and the custodial staff.
Victor Cristiano, the Head of Health and Safety for FUSE, the school district union in New Rochelle that represents teachers and other pedagogical staff as well as service-related professionals, has called on school administrators to send the custodian home.
An Open Letter to Mr. Greg Kern (Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administration)
As the FUSE appointed Head of Health and Safety, a lifelong resident of New Rochelle and a carpenter working foreman for the CSDNR, I feel that I have a responsibility to the members I represent to address recent emails and notifications to me and other staff related professionals by school district administrators.
It is my understanding that once the superintendent closed all schools on Friday, March 13, 2020, there was a discussion between Marty Daly, FUSE President and yourself. Custodial Staff would report on that Friday to deep clean the buildings so that they are ready and disinfected when students and staff return. Additionally they would be trained to apply a new disinfectant proven to kill viruses. After completing the cleaning and the training, school buildings would be locked and staff would remain home. Essential services like payroll and tech support would report as needed. Mechanics would be available for emergencies that may arise (broken pipes, windows etc).
According to our negotiated contract between FUSE and CSDNR, “When schools and offices are closed for students and teachers due to an emergency, they shall also be closed for secretaries, clerical employees, mechanics etc.” I believe we can all agree from listening to our Mayor, Governor and today our President that Covid 19 is an emergency on a magnitude that this community has not seen. All non essential personnel have been directed on a state and national level to remain home. I believe directives coming from Central Administration including installation of stair treads, building water fountain mounting boards, painting the boards, installation of water fountains and having custodial staff come in so outside contractors can finish work cannot be defined as essential. Additionally if outside contractors are coming in wouldn’t that re contaminate our buildings? We are just now getting testing in our community and while there are no reported Covid 19 cases reported to the School District, information changes each hour.
I believe our members are not in violation of their contract to remain at home, following the social distancing and self isolation mandated by Andrew Cuomo and President Trump.
Thank you in advance for you time and consideration to this sensitive matter. I know that we all agree that we wish for the health and safety of all our members.
Cc: Dr. Laura Feijoo
Martin Daly (FUSE)
Billy Coleman (FUSE)