July 8, 2021
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. Wasn't yesterday amazing? A beautiful salute to our hometown heroes. It was so emotional, so powerful. I talked to so many of the heroes who never expected to be honored in this fashion the same way as great figures in history have been and winning teams and everyone who's gone down the Canyon of Heroes. This was a day for working people. This was a day that we celebrated the people who saw us through COVID through thick and thin and honored them in a way working people deserve to be appreciated and honored. The eyes of the whole world were on the Canyon of Heroes. And I just want to express my thanks to every single person, every essential worker, every educator, first responder, health care hero, everyone. We tried to include all the folks who saw us through COVID and continue to. And I say, God bless them all. It was a beautiful day. And another sign that New York City is back and strong. A day of him by and for New Yorkers, and something to be really proud of.
Now, the reason we could have that parade goes back to the thing we talked about every day, vaccination. The vaccination effort, and the heroes who were part of that, the vaccinators, Test and Trace Corps, all the folks in the community clinics and the hospitals, all the folks who made vaccination happen, they made it possible. And the New Yorkers who stepped forward to get vaccinated made it possible. And all the labor unions we worked with who encouraged their members. So, many people did the work of getting New Yorkers vaccinated. It's made a huge difference. You can feel it out there in the streets. And today we've surpassed another milestone in the vaccination effort, 9.5 million vaccinations given from day one. The official figure, 9,539,004 doses to date, a vast effort. And it continues to grow every single day, thousands and thousands, more people getting vaccinated. We're going to keep doing this until COVID is once and for all gone. And it is another example, there's no stop in New York City. This is an example of the strength of New York City. This kind of effort, and the way New Yorkers responded to it has made all the difference.
Now, yesterday we celebrated the resiliency of New Yorkers, the perseverance of New Yorkers, the ability to create even in the midst of challenges and crisis. And a great example of that is what we celebrated on Tuesday when Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter and I went out to P. S. 6 in Flatbush, Brooklyn. We saw the first hours of Summer Rising. We're hearing great, great responses from parents and kids about what it means to have a safe, positive place to go this summer for free, with learning, with culture, with recreation, a whole day for our kids. And it's amazing to think about what this means in terms of our comeback. So many kids who are getting back in the classroom now who haven't been in a long, long time. They're getting ready for September. They're warming up. They're going to be in much better shape because of Summer Rising. Over 200,000 kids now, and applications still open. So, I want to let all parents know, if you're a parent out there and you still don't know what's the right choice for your child this summer, you want something convenient, something fun, something positive, something free, go to schools.nyc.gov/summer. You can still sign your child up. And based on the feedback we're getting already, you're going to have a great experience and your child's going to have a great experience. And I just want to thank all the educators, all the staff, everyone at DOE, everyone who made Summer Rising come together, unprecedented. And it's going to have a huge impact on the comeback of our schools and the comeback of our kids and the comeback of our city.
Now, talk about our comeback. The number one thing we want to talk about today is our Academic Recovery Plan to achieve a recovery for all of us. We all know that our decision to open our schools, to bring our kids back last year was essential to our ability to get through COVID. And we all know that schools coming back full strength in September is going to be one of the most essential things we do in the recovery of New York City. And it is not just enough to bring all the kids back to the classroom. We have to help them recover academically, emotionally in so many ways. The focus now is on doing unprecedented things to close that COVID achievement gap, to get our kids in a strong place for their futures, to catch up for the time we lost and then surpass. So, today we're unveiling the New York City Universal Academic Recovery Plan. Universal Academic Recovery, that is the vision. Reach every single child. We're going to jumpstart each child's educational comeback. And there are so many crucial pieces to this plan. You're going to hear from the Chancellor, but it all begins where educators will tell you – the whole foundation is on literacy. So, the focus now is Literacy for All, deepening efforts we've put in place over the years to go much farther in making sure that kids can read on grade level by third grade. Obviously, what we've done with pre-K and 3-K are the foundation of the foundation, but we're going to go a lot farther now focusing on our younger students, making sure that they get the supports they need so they are fully ready for their future.
And a new curriculum we will build of and by and for New York City. The Universal Mosaic Curriculum, it's unlike anything else in this country. It is about New York City, made in New York City for New York City because we need a curriculum that works for our kids and our educators, that allows our children to learn in a way relevant to their lives. So, the input of actual New York educators will be the foundation of this new curriculum, and it's going to allow us to go places we've never gone before. We're also going to make a huge commitment to ensuring that our kids are reading all the time. And one of the best ways to get kids reading all the time, give them a lot more books. So, we're investing in nine million new books for our classroom libraries. Nine million books that can go right in the hands of our kids anytime they want. Anytime they're inspired to take the next step, a book will be there for them.
The Universal Academic Recovery Plan will focus on literacy, will focus on curriculum. It will also focus on making our kids digital citizens for today and for the future. An area we have a lot more to do on because we know that that is the passport to the future, having that digital literacy. That's a big part of this plan as well. A big focus as well on special education. Our special-ed kids went through so much. Our special-ed parents went through so much. We want to support them in new ways. Extended learning opportunities to help them through as part of this comeback. And a deeper focus on universal career and college readiness and providing free, accessible support to make that happen. The bottom line is we're going to do something that's never been done in the history of New York City public schools, huge new investments, very bold and ambitious approaches to bring us back from COVID and then go farther. I want you to hear all about it from a visionary who has led the way in putting this plan together, and her heart and soul is in it, our Chancellor, Meisha Ross Porter.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I'm so thrilled to be here today. You know, I've been an educator for over 20 years, and I know that turning this opportunity into real change in our system is the work of the whole community. So, when creating this plan, we talked to everyone. We talked to teachers, to principals, to central office staff. We spoke to families and students. Everyone shared their hopes and dreams for how we move our system forward. But we also learned that healing must happen hand-in-hand with rigorous academics. And as the Mayor said, this is incredible news for our students, and we all get to be a part of it. So, I'm really excited to walk you through each piece today.
Literacy and reading are fundamental to our children's ability to reach important milestones on their educational journey. We're making critical investments to ensure every student is reading on grade level by third grade. For students in kindergarten through second grade, pre-K and 3-K, our educators will use a universal literacy screen to identify students’ strengths and challenges, including dyslexia, and make a support plan. Too many of our kids have struggled with print-based disabilities like dyslexia. And this is not okay. Too many of our students have not had the resources they need, and this is the moment for them. So, we're taking action. On top of this, we're bringing the number of reading coaches to 500. So, every 3-K, pre-K, and K2 classroom has one. And we're reducing class sizes at dozens of elementary schools that need it, and more. This is going to be the year of the literacy blitz.
So, this naturally leads to the question, what will students be reading? This fall, students will receive an infusion of books that reflect the variety of histories, languages, and experiences that make up this great city. This is part of our Universal Mosaic Curriculum. It is a curriculum by New York City educators for New York City students. It will reflect who our children are because students are more engaged when they see themselves in their lessons and materials. I have experienced this as a student, a parent, and an educator in our schools. This will be a comprehensive curriculum that accelerates student learning and prepares them for success in school and in life. That includes brand new support materials for ELA, math, arts, and more. And a longer term transformation for our system-wide ELA and math curriculum.
Now, let me talk for a moment about technology. Providing students with a 21st century education is critical. We made important progress in bridging the digital divide during the pandemic. And we're going to build on those investments. We will distribute an additional 175,000 devices to guarantee that every K-12 student who needs one has one. And we will expand Computer Science for All to 400,000 students by 2024. We will also train over 5,000 educators in advanced computer science. This plan will position all New York City students as digital citizens in today's world.
We know that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on our students with disabilities. So, we are making every resource available to better support students with IEPs at every grade level, from launching after school and Saturday programs available to all students with IEPs to receive additional instruction and related services to hundreds more pre-K seats. These investments are key for our students with disabilities.
So, what's the last stop on our educational journey for our students? Preparing students to be college and career ready. Especially as our students heal from the pandemic, we need to make sure they are better prepared for the next steps in life. Every junior and senior will get free personalized college counseling after school. Every family will be offered universal college financial aid guidance in multiple languages to help navigate the application process. We will add dozens of virtual Advanced Placement courses and restore College Now courses so every high school student has access to high-level college coursework.
I know that's a lot, but I want to make two more important notes. First, multilingual learners and immigrant families are valued and supported at the DOE. Each of these focus areas includes dedicated supports for these students and families to address their distinct needs and support their academic progress and language acquisition. Second, children in every community are carrying trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A successful academic recovery can only happen when the emotional and mental health needs of our students are addressed. So, we will make sure every child has the supports they need from social workers to social-emotional screenings. We are pulling out all the stops.
I want to conclude by sharing how excited I am for our homecoming this fall. Every student – for every student, for every teacher, for every family, for every leader, and for all of those who helped us get to this point, I'm excited to ensure every student is welcomed into an affirming, supportive, and rigorous learning environment where they see themselves in the curriculum, where we honor the voices of our students and families. I'm more excited than I've ever been in my two decades in education for our next, our most important first day of school. And with that, I'll turn it back to you. Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: It's been two decades, but it felt like two days.
Flew by. Thank you so much, Chancellor. And I can tell the passion you bring to this, and we're so excited. And let me tell you, this is a conversation that's been going on for a long time about what we could do if we actually had the resources that our kids deserve. I've had this conversation with Michael Mulgrew over the course of the last decade, dozens maybe hundreds of times, dreaming of what we could do if we finally could reach our kids with the support they deserve and support our educators in the process and clear the way for them to do what they are so good at. So, for all of us – I feel the Chancellor's excitement because this is a turning point moment. I want you to hear from someone who has been fighting for these changes and fighting for these investments for years and years, and has succeeded, particularly with the fight in Albany for just funding for New York City. I want to congratulate him on that. President of the United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew.
Thank you, Michael. Amen. Ownership, I love that phrase. And I thank everyone, I want to thank all our educators, all our school staff. Ownership, for sure. They owned the need to help every child through, and they did it brilliantly. Thank you for your leadership, Michael. And we've got a lot to do, let's be clear, a lot to do between now and September, but we've got the plan and we've got the resources to do it. Now, giving credit again, where credit is due. I want you to hear from two members of Congress and both of them fought really hard to make sure we had those resources. And this is the pivotal reality. That federal help was there for us so we could do what we needed to, to bring back our schools strongly. First, I want you to hear from a member of Congress who has really focused on equity throughout his career. I remember many times when we've talked about the needs to make sure that the schools in his district got their fair share. What we now have before us is a great example of forwarding equity in everything we do in education. My pleasure to introduce Congress Member Adriano Espaillat.
Thank you so much Congress Member Espaillat. Thank you for your leadership and fighting for us. And now I want you to hear from another member of Congress who also fought to get this funding and put his heart and soul into it because he is an educator. And I think I'll get some agreement over here on this side of the table. We'd like to see more educators in public office because they bring perspective and focus on our kids and they know what works. So, he was a lifelong educator, did great things for kids that way. He is now the Vice Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, where he can do great things for the kids of this entire nation, but his heart is here in New York City, Congress Member, Jamaal Bowman.
Congress Member, you are in the zone.
You are – I just want to let you know you are passionate on this topic and we appreciate your passion, and we appreciate your support. It means a whole lot to us. And we've got one more person who's going to join us. And he is one of the only people who could probably match the passion of Congress Member Bowman. He also was an educator for so long and helped our kids in so many ways. And now he is the Chair of the Education Committee in the City Council. And once an educator always an educator, Council Member Mark Treyger.
Thank you. He is fired up. And I knew that he would rise to the challenge. Every time. Mark Treyger, you are dependable. Thank you. Thank you for your support for this plan. And everyone, you can hear just the passion and energy everyone is feeling because we want to bring back our schools. We want them to be as great as they can be, and we know they can be. We want our kids to have everything they need, and we're all committed to it. You're going to see something extraordinary this September and this whole school year to come. And this is going to be crucial to the recovery of New York City.
Now, one other point I want to raise. We're going to do a few more things today before we go to question and answer. One of them is to really talk about another building block to bring back New York City. Recovery for all of us means getting back the jobs, getting back the vibrancy, the economic activity, bringing this city back to its fullness, and then surpassing where we were before the pandemic. To do that we got to bring tourism back strong. Now the good news is, you already see is starting. It's amazing. Tourists are coming back in really strong numbers already. Well, we want that message to spread far and wide. It's time. It's time to come back to New York City, everyone. This is the place to be, and this is going to be the Summer of New York City. And you got to be here. We are sending that message all across the nation with an unprecedented advertising campaign to bring people from across the 50 states here to New York City. It's an extraordinary $30 million effort. TV ads will be across the country telling people this is the place to be this summer. And I want you to see this ad. You'll see what the whole country is going to see about New York City.
I love that. I love that. We're back and it's time to come back to New York City, everybody, because just that little moment shows you everything here, the energy, the life, the reason this is the place to be. This is going to have a huge impact. And I want you to hear from someone who was one of the architects of the unbelievable levels of tourism that New York City had in recent years, that fueled our economy, brought so many jobs to so many people. He's done it before. He's going to do it again. The President and CEO of NYC & Company, Fred Dixon.
It's time, Fred. I'm getting that feeling. It's time. Also, Fred just really said something important about helping all Americans not have that nagging FOMO feeling. And, like, if you don't want to feel that just come to New York City so you can say you did and experience what amazing things are happening in the Summer of New York City. We want to make it easy. We want people to be FOMO free, and the best way to do that is just to come right here and experience it.
All right, now, before we do our indicators, just a quick note on the weather. We're keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Elsa. So far, the storm is staying far enough away and that's good. We're going to keep a close eye. Our Office of Emergency Management is constantly monitoring, with the National Weather Service. Tomorrow, we expect at this point, some heavy rains and winds from early in the morning into the afternoon. Knock on wood, that's all we're hearing so far. Let's keep it that way and we will keep everyone updated as we go along.
Okay, indicators now. Number one, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19, today's reports, 73 patients, and confirmed positivity rate of 12 percent. Hospitalization rate per 100,000, 0.29. That is a very good number. And you're going to see in these numbers today, some variability, because what we're seeing is fewer folks are getting tested, understandably, and we're not doing the school testing anymore, which was a tremendous success. And we all worked on it together on this side of the table, tremendous success. But also consistently showed incredibly low levels of positivity. So, that's not happening the same way as it was before. That's affecting the numbers. But what we're really focused on is this hospitalization number being very, very low. Case number now, new reported cases on a seven-day average, 203 cases, but the positivity number is higher, but again, based on fewer tests and we like what we see overall. So, the positivity number for, a citywide number – excuse me, percentage of people testing city-wide for COVID-19, 1.06 percent. Okay, a few words in Spanish. I'm going to go back to where we began with the Academic Recovery Plan.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, let's turn to our colleagues in the media, and please let me know the name and outlet of each journalist.
Moderator: Good morning. We will now begin our Q-and-A. As a reminder, we are joined by Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter; Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company; OEM Commissioner John Scrivani; Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi; and Dr. Mitch Katz, President and CEO of New York City Health + Hospitals. Our first question goes to Jillian from NY1.
Question: Hi, Mayor. Thanks for taking my question. I’d like to start with the Mosaic Curriculum here. The shift to a universal curriculum seems pretty significant in a system that's sort of been decentralized throughout the past, maybe a legacy of the BOE, right. But I guess what is prompting the move to something more universal. And can you give us a sense of what this will, you know – what this will be made up of beyond just, you know, new books for students to be reading? Will this be, you know, standards that every school will have to be meeting? How are you going to be kind of developing that and what kind of breadth will this curriculum have?
Mayor: Jillian, I'll start as the layman, and I'll turn to the educators to my left here to talk about it. I think this is a powerful moment for our kids, our families, and our schools, because we're going to have a curriculum that's of and by and for New York City, and that excites me. As we've talked about it over the months, what's become clear is we need a curriculum that will reach our kids most effectively, engaged them most deeply in learning and to be a curriculum that reflects what our educators know will work, and that's why the fact that it's being based on the ideas and experiences of New York City educators is so powerful. We know we can reach kids a lot better and having a single New York City curriculum is going to allow us to do that. It's going to simplify things. It's going to free up a lot of teacher time for the work that teachers do best with their kids. So, I think you're going to see a variety of benefits here, but the way I would crystallize it is we need a curriculum for New York City kids that is built in New York City. That's what we're doing here. Chancellor.
Chancellor Porter: Yeah, sure. So, this is a moment of also about partnering, partnering with communities, partnering with families, partnering with teachers, partnering with leaders to create that very curriculum that is representative of New York City. And we know very clearly that our students learn best, and we know coming out of this pandemic more than anything, our students need to be engaged and connected. So, this isn't just about purchasing books. It's about purchasing books, developing materials, creating units, creating lessons, and taking away that work from teachers of looking for diverse curriculum, looking for diverse texts and saying, we know we need it. We know who we are in New York City, and we need to build that. This is long overdue and its work that should have been done, and we are excited to partner to do it.
Mayor: Michael, you want to add?
President Michael Mulgrew, United Federation of Teachers: Yeah, and to the original part of the question. We are – as you know, or you don't know – we are a standards-based state. We have new standards, New York State standards that were put on hold during the pandemic, what we'll be rolling out this year. Those standards, we all understand, every school district has to adhere to. But in terms of the Mosaic Curriculum, New York City hands down is the most diverse school system in the entire United States, if not the entire world. In order to engage students, which is the key to – the basic key to all education, we need a curriculum that is responsive, and they recognize and have their own interest in. So, teachers have scrambled for decades trying to find these materials. What we're saying here is that the school system is taking on the role and the responsibility of bringing all these materials together that represent all of the different children and populations and cultures that we teach and making them available so that the schools don't have to scramble all over and find them on their own. It is absolutely the smart thing to do and I'm glad that we are getting started on this massive project.
Mayor: Amen. Go ahead, Jillian.
Question: And then just a question on Summer Rising, we've heard from a couple of parents that they were contacted by the school location where their child was attending Summer Rising and were told that they wouldn't be able to stay for the full 8:00 am to 6:00 pm day due to staffing shortages. Just wondering how widespread of a problem that is and what's being done to address it?
Mayor: Yeah, I do not believe that is at all a widespread problem. I think that's something we're solving as we speak, I'll turn to the Chancellor, but the message to the schools, to the community-based organizations is bring on all the staff and you need, and obviously DOE Central Office is helping to make that happen. And what I'm hearing, Jillian, is just literally just tremendous enthusiasm from parents about having a free, safe, positive place for the kids to go. That they don't have to think about all – there's no, you know, hoping and praying you get a seat somewhere. A seat is guaranteed for every child, and this is very much what we've found with Pre-K for All, and we're finding with 3-K for All, when you give a universal right to people, it makes their lives so much better. It takes the stress out of it. So, that's why we're emphasizing right now, any parent who does not have a plan for their child, we can accommodate your child in Summer Rising and give them a great summer and prepare them for the new school year in the fall. Chancellor, you want add?
Chancellor Porter: So, I've said over and over again, Summer Rising is the important pathway for us back to in-person instruction in our schools, and we are excited by the demand and are going to meet the demand where we need to. And so, this is not a common problem. This is an instance at a couple of sites, and we are working very closely with our DYCD partners to make sure that we are staffed up. And just want to – I just want to thank all of the staff at all of the sites that have shown up. Jillian, you saw in Brooklyn on Tuesday, the excitement, not only that our young people, our students, and families felt, but the excitement, our teachers and leaders felt to welcome students back into the building.
Mayor: Thank you.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Andrew Siff from WNBC.
Question: Mayor, good morning, and everyone on the call –
Mayor: Andrew, I saw you covered in confetti yesterday.
Question: Yes, I was covered in confetti, and I was among the crowds and walked the entire route.
Mayor: Thank you. I hope you enjoyed it.
Question: [Inaudible] we did. We very much did. It was [inaudible] I wanted to [inaudible] amid all of that at sort of [inaudible] celebration and the milestone, I wanted to get your health folks to weigh on this [inaudible] state of Missouri, they ran out of [inaudible] that the Delta cases are so significant in unvaccinated areas. There’s crisis team, federal crisis team, responding to parts of the US, not other parts of the world. While organizing for tourists here [inaudible] do you have any layer of concern [inaudible] unvaccinated folks [inaudible] whether or who is vaccinated [inaudible].
Mayor: Andrew, we lost a fair amount of what you said. I think we have enough to answer, but if you can get to a better connection, that would be real helpful. But let me turn in a second to Dr. Chokshi and Dr. Katz. This is why I say, the answer always is more vaccination of our people is the way to protect our people. 9.5 million doses now, 4.3 million New Yorkers fully vaccinated, 4.7 million have had at least one dose and we fully expect they’ll get a second dose soon. And we just got to keep going every single day. Typical day is tens of thousands more people, which is fantastic. This is the key. What we saw – what we're seeing in Missouri right now, it's very troubling. You're absolutely right. Clearly correlates to a gap in vaccination or an unwillingness on a large scale for folks get vaccinated. That's not what we're seeing here. We're seeing more and more people stepping forward all the time, and I think you're going to see that grow as we get closer to September and people are preparing to come back to work, come back to school. So, I think the way we handle every element of the equation is just deepening the vaccination effort. Dr. Chokshi followed by Dr. Katz.
Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Thank you, Mr. Mayor, and the bottom line is the one that you said, which is that vaccination is the key with respect to protecting us from not just the Delta variant, but all of the variants that are circulating in New York City and the United States right now. We do know that the Delta variant is here in the city and in fact comprises a significant number of the cases that we're seeing in the city right now, and the CDC released data earlier this week showing that the Delta variant is the predominant one across the United States. But what we know is that that variant is most risky for people who are not yet fully vaccinated. That's why we're seeing what we're seeing in places like Missouri and Nevada, because we know this virus is an opportunist. It will go to the places where people are the least protected, and that's something that we as a city have agency over. It's why you've seen us continue to lower barriers to vaccination day by day, week by week, which we'll continue to do so that everyone can get afforded the protection that vaccination offers. The final thing that I'll say is that, you know, we're getting more and more evidence about how effective the vaccines are against the Delta variant, particularly for severe illness. There is a slightly higher rate of vaccine breakthroughs that is apparent for the Delta variant, but the big picture is that it remains highly protective and particularly for the outcomes that we care the most about for ourselves and our loved ones.
Mayor: Thank you. And Dr. Mitch Katz, I saw you proudly marching with your Health + Hospitals team yesterday. Congratulations to you. Anything you want to add?
President and CEO Mitchell Katz, NYC Health + Hospitals: Thank you, sir. I was so proud to be with the heroes and sheroes of Health + Hospitals who did such an amazing job during the pandemic. I just want to add that overwhelmingly what we're seeing at the hospitals and the clinics are that the people getting sick with COVID are un-vaccinated, and that's the major, major group, and that's why, as you say, sir, we have to keep working on vaccination. There are a few breakthrough cases that we've seen on people who are vaccinated, but they are mild. I mean, as Dr. Chokshi says, right, it's the vaccines are incredibly, incredibly effective at preventing serious disease, which is what we really care about. It's not so much what the swab is positive or negative, it's saving lives and keeping people healthy, and that's the guarantee that they get from the vaccination. Thank you, sir.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead, Andrew. Andrew?
Question: Better right now?
Mayor: There you go. Let's hear it.
Question: Mayor, can you – all right. Mayor, as you know, tomorrow's the last day for the Javits Center as a vaccine hub, I'm wondering what you make of that milestone and where the city stands as far as closing whatever remaining city hubs you have and making vaccinations strictly pharmacy, mobile units, and doctor's offices?
Mayor: It's a great question, Andrew. I appreciate it. I think for months we've been saying that a more decentralized approach is what works, especially in communities that we need to reach more deeply. So, I think you're right. It's the doctor's offices, pediatricians especially, it's the pharmacies, it's the mobile vans and buses that have been incredibly effective. Dr. Chokshi, Dr. Katz, you can talk about just how much you will rely on a fixed locations versus all those other options. But I think, Andrew, we do know that these – this mix of approaches is the thing that's working for us. Go ahead, Dr. Chokshi.
Commissioner Chokshi: Thank you, sir, but just as you said, our approach is to get further out into neighborhoods and communities. You've seen us do that over the last several weeks, particularly with our mobile vaccination options, as well as partnering with independent pharmacies and doctor's offices not just, you know, at large systems, which of course is important, but the smaller practices where we know that people already have trusted relationships with their family doctors and with their pediatricians, and so we're working with them, doctor by doctor, practice by practice, to ensure that they have what they need to vaccinate their patients, and that will continue. The other thing to highlight is that thousands of people have already gotten vaccinated through our in-home vaccination efforts, and the Mayor announced a couple of weeks ago that that is now open for anyone who is currently eligible for vaccination, and what it means is that we will pull out all the stops so, that access is not a barrier for vaccination. You can get it on your own terms when it's convenient for you because that's how serious we are about vaccination.
Mayor: Thank you. Dr. Katz, you want to add?
President Katz: No, thank you, sir.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Juliet from 1010 WINS.
Question: Oh, hi. Good morning, Mr. Mayor, how are you doing today?
Mayor: I'm doing great. Juliet. How are you?
Question: I'm good, thank you. I wanted to know other than congratulating Eric Adams, what else did you both talk about?
Mayor: Look, I really want to commend Eric Adams for running a great campaign. This was a tough, tough year coming out of COVID, June primary, ranked choice voting – a lot of variables. He and his team did an outstanding job, and I've certainly said that to him, and I've told him, you know, I look forward to working with him as we move forward. But I give him a lot of credit, and I think when someone does that, when they put together that kind of effort under these kinds of adverse circumstances, it's a really good indicator of what kind of leader they are, and it makes me feel very good about him in the future of what he's going to do for New York City. Go ahead, Juliet.
Question: Yeah. So, you know, he has an earring now after a request from a constituent or people who said, well, we'll support you if you follow up. So, I was wondering, have you thought about any requests from a constituent that you'd like to meet before you leave office?
Mayor: That's really interesting Juliet. I have, I have not gotten the earring request yet. I'll have to think about that one. I think it's great he did that, I think it’s fun, but I will be listening to the requests from constituents. I'm not sure I'll agree with all of them up front. I'm going to be very careful. The last time I did that, you know, Bill Neidhardt made me wear a really loud Hawaiian shirt. Now, that proved to be a fashion hit. So, sometimes it works. Sometimes it works.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Henry Goldman from Bloomberg.
Question: That's a tough act to follow there, a Hawaiian shirt and the possibility of an earring, but I will do my best.
Mayor: Nose ring – yeah that's the big question. Is it nose? Is it? We're not going to accept that. No, that’s off limits. I'm turning that down. I'm sorry, Henry. There was some conflict here in the room we had to resolve.
Question: There was a controversy months ago about Andrew Cuomo and whether he had engaged in some kind of altering of his appearance.
Mayor: We’re moving on.
Question: But I wanted to ask you a question about Andrew Cuomo and Eric Adams, and whether you have any advice for him in how he proceeds with his relationship with the Governor?
Mayor: You know what I've said for years – and I think Ed Koch first said it, and I agree with it – there's always going to be a challenge because a Mayor and the Governor have different responsibilities. A Mayor has to look out for eight-and-a-half million people and fight for the needs of the residents in New York City, and a Governor has a different constituency. But Koch used to say, you know, when a Governor does something good for New York City, thank them, praise them, and when they don't, challenge them, take them on, and I think that's the right way to proceed. Go ahead, Henry.
Question: Okay thank you for that. I also wanted to ask you about the class sizes in this plan. How much are they going to be reduced?
Mayor: So, I'll start, and I'll turn to the Chancellor. Look, I'm excited about this because, again, our focus is on the youngest kids. This really builds out what we've been doing for years now, Pre-K and now 3-K, and that gives you a strong platform to work on this crucial issue, which is getting kids to grade level reading by third grade. An exciting new option is to have two teachers in the classroom in some of those younger grades to help move that process along because that will amplify everything the educators are doing and help them reach kids a lot better, and you know, it really is about laser focusing on the highest impact time. We're doing more than we've ever done before with early childhood. But those follow-through years up to third grade is an area where we can, we can double down, and that's what this is about. Chancellor.
Chancellor Porter: So we're targeting class size reduction by hiring approximately 140 teachers in 72 schools with the largest class sizes and focusing – like really being targeted like the Mayor said in areas where they are low proficiency rates, so that we can provide the support where it's actually needed and continue to work towards building a plan to look forward towards the future, as we look towards reducing class sizes over time.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Jessica from WNYC everyone. Thanks for taking my question. I'm really interested in drilling down into some more of the specifics about the Mosaic curriculum. So, first of all, I wanted to understand if it's going to be required and in, you know, K-12. It also sounds like you're in the process of still formulating it, so I wanted to know what the timeline is.
Mayor: I'll start and turn to the Chancellor. This, you know, a universal, you said Mosaic curriculum, that's right. But the word that goes before that is universal and it's meant to be universal. It's meant to be for the whole system, which I think is going to simplify and clarify the work of our educators, and again, better represent our kids and what's going to get them learning. So, this work is beginning right away. It'll be implemented over the next few years. But it's a culmination of ideas that have been increasingly supported for years now about how to make learning more relevant to our kids. This is not a new concept. It's pulling it together in a new way, and I've heard this so many times from educators, from parents, from elected officials, as you just heard from Congressman Espaillat, a curriculum that reflects this city and our children is what we need. Go ahead.
Chancellor Porter: I mean, we've been hearing for years from families, from students, from teachers that we need a curriculum that represents our city – that represents the diversity of the city like Michael said. So this moment isn't about a mandate. It's about a collaborative process. It's about a collaborative process to build a curriculum. It's about a collaborative process to identify the literature and the millions of books that need to be in our classrooms, and so we expect that this process is starting now identifying materials, getting materials into schools, but also the process of developing that universal curriculum that will be ready for our schools in the fall of 2023. So, we're excited about it. We're excited about being engaging in a collaborative process that will require our teachers, our leaders, and our partners to step up with us and our families and especially our students. I think the moment that is really important about this is also including the voices of our students and what they're learning and who they're seeing in their learning, and so I'm excited about this. I'm excited to partner across communities to get this done, and I'm excited about the fall of 2023 when our schools are all implementing this curriculum,
Mayor: Michael, you want to add?
President Mulgrew: Yeah, and I can't emphasize enough the struggle that so many of our schools go to, trying to find relevant material to teach our students. It's – this is New York City. I mean, we have all of the different cultures of the Caribbean, you have Eastern European, you have Central Africa, South Africa, West Africa, you have Central America, you can keep going on and on. All of the students of the world are taught in our schools and teachers constantly every year, always looking for material that are relevant to that student. And what we're saying here is we're telling our school system that we're developing this, we're going to bring the materials and you're going to have a place to go, instead of having to try to figure out all of these things on your own. It's a phenomenal project, and when it's done it should be the preeminent resources for any school district, because we should have almost every culture in the entire planet will be represented in our material, and this is a big, big undertaking, but it also will lift a major burden off the schools because New York City is a phenomenal place to live, but it's not like the old days where one neighborhood stayed a certain culture for a long period of time. It's constantly shifting. So, this is why we have to have all this material.
Mayor: Amen. Okay, Jessica, go ahead.
Question: I was wondering for the doctors; you were talking about the kinds of cases you're seeing in clinics and hospitals of unvaccinated people. I was wondering – I don't want an exact number, but I was curious what, how many of those proportionally are children who are unvaccinated?
Mayor: Dr. Chokshi, Dr. Katz.
President Katz: I'm happy to start. Very, very few children. Right, this is something we saw from early on in the pandemic, that children do not seem to have the serious repercussions of COVID in the vast majority of cases. There have been a few serious cases of inflammatory reactions to COVID. There have been a few sick children, but remarkably few. I don't believe at the moment in all the Health + Hospitals facilities would have a single sick child. So, very, very few. I'd be interested what Dr. Chokshi thinks.
Mayor: We love that statement from your Dr. Katz. Go ahead, Dr. Chokshi.
Commissioner Chokshi: I agree with you, Dr. Katz. when we look at our data, particularly with respect to hospitalizations due to COVID-19, the rate of children being hospitalized is significantly lower than for adults, and it remains older adults who are at greatest risk of hospitalization, even though we do have higher vaccination rates among older adults. But what I will say is that for some children we do now have the ability to confer even more protection because of course, hospitalization is not the only outcome that we are most concerned about. You know, we're also concerned about the longer-term effects from COVID-19. And so, I urge parents to very seriously consider getting their adolescents – anyone who is 12 or older – vaccinated as well, because that will help keep them protected.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Bob Hennelly from the Chief Leader.
Question: Thanks for taking [inaudible]. Throughout your tenure, you have repeatedly raised the issue of the nation's race-based wealth inequality, which has only accelerated at an exponential rate during the pandemic. And, certainly, universal-K and then many programs you announced [inaudible] education are steps to address that, but I wonder how you can reconcile those concerns and accomplishments with your inability to meaningfully address the plantation system New York City has long had in place when it comes to the vast pay and benefit disparity between and FDNY, EMS [inaudible], police and fire. The City's EMS workers are primarily female and people of color who make much less than their peers in police and fire that have traditionally been white males despite the reality, as we saw, during the pandemic, EMS workers very much put their lives on the line, 24-7 for New Yorkers in the most dire of circumstances.
Mayor: Bob, EMS workers do absolutely extraordinary work and crucial work for the city, and we respect them, and appreciate them deeply. And that's why for weeks and weeks we've been in discussions with the union, looking for ways to address their concerns, and doing proactively, because I want to address these concerns. And we've got to do it in a way that creates balance in everything we're doing, you know, with almost 400,000 employees of New York City. But I think there's a way forward and I'm hopeful we're going to get somewhere soon. Go ahead, Bob.
Question: [Inaudible] union boycotted yesterday's parade. In an interview, Andy Ansbro, the UFA President of Firefighters Association flagged several reasons for the unions opting out. The one that I wanted to ask for a response on was, he says that the administration is – has not provided hazard pay for first responders on the front lines of the pandemic, despite the fact that, Ansbro says, Senator Schumer told him directly the American Rescue Plan permits the city to do so and have those costs covered by the federal American Rescue Plan. I think it's instructed to also dozens of local governments, as diverse as from Maine to Texas, have opted for some form of hazard pay retroactively.
Mayor: Listen, yesterday was about honoring the people who did the work who saw us through. And I think what New Yorkers felt all over the five boroughs was it was really important to show how much we appreciate those folks and to give them their moment to be focused on for their accomplishments. And we try in everything we do as a city to honor working people, which is why we have some of the most generous benefits anywhere in the country, for example, and why we fought to keep our workforce whole throughout this entire pandemic. And we did not, thank God, with great cooperation with labor, we did not lay off anyone. We fought to keep the workforce together and support the workforce. Look, we need more resources for a lot of things, and that's a really important idea to support workers directly. We have more resources, but, as you saw with the last budget, we had to first bring the city back, and there's still a lot of needs if we're going to bring this city back, and a lot of people still struggling right this minute who don't have work, who need help, and our kids who need help, and that's where we put our focus. But if we get more resources, that's the kind of thing – of course, we want to do everything we can to help working people.
Moderator: We have time for two more questions today. Our next question goes to Kristin from the Staten Island Advance.
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. How are you today?
Mayor: I'm doing well, Kristin. How have you been?
Question: I'm doing good, thanks. So, I just – I have a bit of an update on the cooling centers for you. So, it seems that they are individual to each location. So, none of the locations on Staten Island permit pets, only service animals. And I spoke to a few Staten Islanders who told me directly that they would not leave their pets at home under any circumstances, regardless of how hot it gets in their houses. You know, is there a way that we might – you know, the City might be able to make a pet friendly cooling center for those people who really need it but don't want to leave their pets?
Mayor: I appreciate the question, Kristin. You're always out there on the frontline, seeing things we need to address, and I appreciate that a lot. Our Emergency Management Commissioner John Scrivani is on with us. And John just came on the job weeks ago, so there's some things he knows at his fingertips and other things he'll have to check into. I think you're raising an important point, we’ve got to get people, if they're in danger, we’ve got to make them comfortably willing to go to a cooling center, and there's got to be a creative solution here. I don't know what it is, but I believe it's the kind of thing we need to figure out. John, you have anything you want to say to that?
Commissioner John Scrivani, Emergency Management: Yes, sir. So, we've been actively working with the Animal Planning Task Force. We re-engage them after the question we received the other day from Kristin and we're still working toward a solution. It's been long coming, but, as she mentioned, you know, these are not City sites. Some of them, there are often complications with bringing multiple different types of pets into an area. But we are actively working with the task force to come up with a solution.
Mayor: Okay. Thank you, John. Go ahead, Kristin. Kristin?
Question: Thank you so much. Yes, I'm here. So, I wanted to talk about summer school. So, the updated guidance that the State released the other day says that unvaccinated children are strongly encouraged, but not required to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors. Does the DOE plan to update its guidance for summer school to reflect this change and also align with the City summer camps throughout the city?
Mayor: I'll start and I'll turn to Dr. Choksi and to the Chancellor. Look, we've taken a cautious approach in general and even when other standards are changing around us, we try to be smart and careful about the best way to handle the situation, and I think that's served us really well. So, to-date, you know, our approach has been a cautious one on the question of masks and I think it's helped us a lot. But as to how we're aligning to new guidance, Dr. Choksi, do you want to start?
Commissioner Chokshi: Yes, sir. I'm happy to start on this. And briefly, you know, our recommendation has been to keep the current guidance for DOE schools, which keeps the mask requirement in place for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. As the Mayor has said, this has been a key part of our layered approach, which has kept schools safe and has made the transmission of COVID almost minimal in school environment. And so, that is that is the current recommendation. We will continue to evaluate this as we get more and more evidence about what is most effective in the school setting. And, of course, my team is in constant communication with the Chancellor and her team about this.
Mayor: Thank you. Chancellor, you want to add?
Chancellor Porter: We're going to continue to work with our medical experts. The guidance currently stands and we will stay in regular communication.
Mayor: Well said, thank you. Go ahead.
Moderator: Our last question for today goes to Dana Rubinstein from the New York Times.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. How are you?
Mayor: I'm doing great, Dana. How have you been?
Question: I'm good. So, just to drill down on your earlier question regarding Eric Adams, based – can you still hear me?
Mayor: Yeah, I can hear you well.
Question: Sorry. Basically, you suggested that something about the way Eric Adams led his campaign, or the fact that he led a winning campaign lead you to believe that he will be an effective leader. I was wondering if you could sort of talk about what about his campaign that inspires you with that confidence given that, you know, plenty of people that win elected office, but turn out to be, you know, problematic once in office.
Mayor: Yeah, that's a true statement, Dana, but I think we also learn a lot about people by the campaign they run in the coalition they built. I think Eric did something I admire. He said, this is going to be a campaign about working people – that was music to my ears. He focused on the working people of the city. He focused on the outer boroughs. He focused on communities that often didn't get their fair share and he built a very powerful coalition. I think that [inaudible] well for how he's going to govern, both what his priorities will be, but also the fact that he knew how to build that coalition and spent years and years doing that work very patiently and put together a great team. So, you're right to say, does it guarantee the next thing? Of course not, but that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying, I'm very impressed by what I've seen. And, in this particular case, it gives me some real confidence. Go ahead, Dana.
Question: Thank you. And then relatedly, I'm curious sort of what your level of confidence is that he'll carry out the most important pieces of your legacy? And also, what you consider those most important pieces to be?
Mayor: Look, everyone up here on this panel can guess what I'm about to say to you? The love of my life is education. And, you know, I wanted to make sure we profoundly changed public education in New York City. And we now have added not just one, but two grades. You know, 3-K will be fully universal in the two years in New York City. And we are going to have, as a result of that, a whole new reality for kids and families in the city as it really blossoms. So, to me, the first question is, you know, building upon that, building out the notion of a more egalitarian approach to education, because what drove me, among other things, on pre-K was how unfair it was that some kids were getting full-day pre-K and other kids were getting absolutely nothing. And that happened to align too often the wrong way in terms of income and privilege. I have no doubt in my mind that Eric Adams will focus on inclusion and equity in public education. No question. And I feel very good about the balance he’ll strike on public safety, because he's been a reformer, you know, for decades, long before a lot of people were willing to take that risk, he was. But he also understands how important it is to keep people safe. That's the balance we've been striking with neighborhood policing. We've talked a lot about mental health. I think he's very focused on that and understands the trauma so many people in so many communities have been through, even before the pandemic. I think he will continue those crucial investments. So, you know, I look across the spectrum. I feel like there's going to be a lot of agreement with the things that we started and I think he'll build upon them and take them in his own directions, but I believe they'll be kindred.
Okay. With that, everybody, we are so happy today that we are able to keep talking about New York City coming back. We saw it yesterday with the parade. We see it today with the Academic Recovery Plan and the many, many tourists that Fred's going to help bring to New York City, who are going to help fill the coffers, and get people back to work, and bring even more life and energy. And remember, we'll finish today with important point, do not experience FOMO. If you don't want FOMO, you have to come to New York City. That'll solve it for you. Thank you, everybody.