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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Media Availability

May 19, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good morning, everybody. There's a word we used to use, but this crisis has made a mockery of that word – the word is routine. What used to be routine in so many cases is no longer, and things that we now do that are routine to us are things we could never have imagined doing. I could certainly not have imagined all of us trying to stay six feet away from each other and socially distance. This is the closest, most emotional, warmest, passionate place anywhere on earth, and we're used to being close together. It's been a really strange thing to have to create a new routine where we have to stay part of a part so often and yet you have done it and done it well. It is not routine for us to work remotely in such vast numbers. And yet people have figured out how to do it as long as they need to. It's not routine to wear a face covering, Lord knows, but people have picked up the habit and gone with it.

So, this has been the reality in these last months. Finding a way despite the uncertainty, despite the confusion, finding a new way and it won't be something we'll be doing forever, but it's something we'll do as long as we need to do to get through. And that's been true in all parts of our city, all parts of our society. But one of the most powerful examples has been with our public schools. What used to be routine isn't happening right now, but new routines have been established, and so many people are working so hard. Students, parents, educators, to make it work and get the best for our kids. Remote learning, online learning, distance learning, whatever you call it, it had never been done anywhere near this scale. And so, it meant that teachers and parents had to work together, and administrators had to lead the way. The department education leadership had to come up with the tools, the resources, working with a whole variety of companies. I mean, all of this had to be to put together in record time. And the core transition took about a week. And I, I hope when the history is written, it will be really focused on that. There was a week between the time in which our kids were going into a school building and the time at which they started to learn in huge numbers online. And that was an extraordinary effort by so many of our educators to get ready.

So, we are now very focused in these last weeks of what would have been our normal routine school year. Very, very focused on ending the current school year as strong as we can through distance learning with a special focus on our graduating seniors. We really want to be looking out for them, and helping them to complete their studies, and to the next phase of their lives. We need to also recognize that this kind of situation, it takes special effort to connect with kids, to keep them engaged, to keep them learning. And that's not just now through June 26 with the traditional notion of the school year, we're in a whole new reality. So, we see the opportunity to keep helping our kids learn, extending all the way through the summer. Remember, distance learning creates challenges, but also creates a world of possibilities. And for so many kids this summer will be a chance to keep learning either because they need a little extra learning and a little extra time, or because it's something they want to do to keep building up their academic strength.

So, let's talk about summer learning. We see it in the positive and glass could be half full or the glass could be half empty. I'll tell you, my approach to life is look for the half full. I know the chancellor shares this view. We see this as a summer where unprecedented learning can happen, and it can propel us forward into the new school year. So, we've had the opportunity in these last months to learn our educators done amazing work with distance learning and in the process figured out what works best and are learning all the time how to do it better. And we're going to apply those lessons this summer. We have a number of students that need to be in summer learning. Students who need summer learning to help them finish out the school year strong and get ready for the next one. It's about 67,000 students in grades three to eight, about 83,000 students in grades nine to twelve, and then students with individualized education programs, special education students, 27,700 when you put that together, almost 178,000 of our students will continue in summer learning.

It's going to be a huge effort, an unprecedented effort, and the goal is simple and we believe we can attain the goal. Give every child what they need. It will look different obviously depending on the grade level, the age of the student and it will take creativity. It will take a lot of innovation along the way. Who better to do that than someone who's not only devoted his life to education and has been a leader of education all over the country, but someone who knows a whole lot about how to bring the school system back after a crisis. Chancellor Carranza previously served as superintendent of the Houston public schools, and he was there when Hurricane Harvey hit and decimated Houston, and disrupted public education, and everything in Houston. And he led the charge bringing public schools back, and making them strong again. So, he brings a special talent for the rebuilding, and for the innovation that we need for this summer and beyond. So, to give you a sense of what we're going to do this summer and how we're preparing for what comes beyond for the greatest challenge I would say the school system has ever faced, but one that I am absolutely convinced our New York City public schools will meet and then surpass. Let me turn now to Chancellor Richard Carranza.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I'd like to start off by saying that while this summer will undoubtedly be different than any summer we've had before, I want to give a huge thank you to our teachers, our students, our parents, our families, our administrators, everyone that has made this pivot to remote learning be as successful as it has been. Thank you. We are ensuring that our students will get the support and instruction they need this summer to continue learning. Learning will take place remotely, and is organized to account for different grade bands. I'll walk everyone through that now.

So, for our students in grades three through eight, summer learning will take place four days a week for a total of six weeks. This will either be on a required or recommended basis, and that is because teachers will make the determination based on each student's full year of progress. As always, as a school year closes, teachers will look closely at each individual student to determine whether they have met grade level standards, and this year they will take into account any challenges they've experienced in the past couple of months during the pandemic. Summer learning will be geared towards academic success in the fall. As the mayor has spoken on many times, this needs to be the greatest academic year in our history, and this will ensure that we have a running start to that. Summer learning will be geared towards the academic success of students who need additional supports to meet standards, and they will receive those additional supports over the summer. Teachers will communicate with families, whether their student is required to participate in summer learning in order to be promoted in August or recommended to participate to ensure they've achieved mastery of the standards. Students will also have check-ins with guidance counselors so that someone is always keeping a pulse on how they are doing in this remote learning environment. And it's summer, so we'll be incorporating things that students enjoy into the virtual experience including social emotional learning activities, and virtual field trips. So, that is for grades three through eight.

In grades nine through 12, for our high schoolers, it'll be just a little different. The schedule for summer learning will be five days per week. For a total of six weeks. Students will have up to five hours of instruction daily in subjects they received a course in progress mark for, or if they failed in a prior semester. Like elementary and middle school students, these students will also have one on one check-ins and important enrichment activities as well. Again, we want to make sure that students are being supported not only academically but in their social emotional needs as well. For students with disabilities. Our students with 12-month individual education plans will receive instruction and related services five days a week for a total of six weeks. This is also the same frequency that has happened in every other summer as well. Students will also get daily instruction and related services that are aligned to their individual education plan and remote learning plan. Students will also have check-ins with counselors and with other staff so that someone is always keeping a pulse on how they are doing as well in this remote learning environment. And as a student – these students will also enjoy the same opportunities for virtual field trips, social emotional learning activities that their peers are receiving in the other grades as well.

This, obviously, has been a constantly evolving situation, but there's one thing that hasn't wavered for a moment and that is that the City of New York is focused on accelerating learning and making sure that all students stay on track for continued success the next academic year, and that is not changing when this school year comes to an end. Our priority continues to be summer learning model, that is to keep our students on track and ready to hit the ground running in September. Before I turn it back over to the Mayor, I want to acknowledge our educators, once again, who have worked so hard and adapted to these new realities with unparalleled spirit, and enthusiasm, and dedication. I hope that many of you decide to continue to teach in the summer. We need you and our students need you. Applications will be open this week and we encourage our educators to apply. And to our families, we know this hasn't been easy. Thank you for your help and your continued support in this heroic, your heroic contributions to this effort in remote learning. And we know this means continued contributions over the summer. We can't do it without you. We wouldn't be here where we are without you, and, as always, I say we have the best students, staff, and educators in the world, no matter the day or the season or the pandemic. Nothing will ever change that. And I want to say to you, thank you. And with that, Mr. Mayor, I'd like to turn it back over to you, sir.

Mayor: Thank you so much, Chancellor. And thank you again for your leadership. And the whole time, I can tell you one thing about Chancellor Carranza, he has been positive, clear, forceful throughout that we're going to get through this and we're going to find the way forward and reach all our kids. And thank you, Chancellor, for that spirit and for all you and your team are doing.

Chancellor Carranza: Thank you, sir.

Mayor: Now, we understand, and no one's trying to say here that even though we're positive and we're looking forward all the time, that it's going to be easy. 1.1 million students, they've gone through a lot. We've talked about before, they've gone through a lot of disruption, a lot of challenges, some have gone through even trauma. It's, it's not easy for our young people. And on top of that, they're restless. It's been months that they're supposed to stay inside, especially hard as the weather gets warmer. So, look, I want to emphasize – and I'm saying this as a parent too – it's been tough so far on our kids. It's going to in some ways be even tougher as the summer goes on. We're going to be really creative in supporting them, really aware of all they're going through. Some of the things that any young person would be looking forward to in the summer they'd be looking forward to, you know, all the summer activities, barbecues and baseball, basketball, you know, concerts, whatever it may be. All the things that happen in the summer – going to the beach – you know, all those things now are on hold and it's tough. So, we know that's a challenge, that kids are restless. We know they're feeling let down. We know a lot of kids are feeling isolated. We know we have to watch out for their emotional needs and we also have to watch out for their academic needs because any summer there's the possibility of learning loss over the summer. That could be a greater challenge in a summer like this. At the same time, again, we're going to bring some tools to this that might help us fight back against that learning loss in ways we never have been able to before and in fact give kids who want to go even farther and accelerate their learning the opportunity to do that. So, we got to look at the challenges, but we also have to see the opportunity to do more that this moment affords us.

So, today I'm just going to give you a beginning of some of the ideas we have about how to address the summer and the needs of our young people. There'll be much more to say in the coming weeks, but here are some of the ideas that now are being worked on and these are some of the virtual approaches that young people can tap into and enjoy, even if they have to stay home. Virtual field trips is something that offers kids a whole opportunity to see things that they care about and want to learn about. New educational programming on TV, radio, as well as online – eBooks being made available with lesson plans, all sorts of things that will help young people want to engage in different ways and who need to engage to continue their learning. And then there'll be more structured activities – virtual clubs, ways of bringing kids together where there's a social element, where they're connecting with other young people, but in a safe manner. These kinds of ideas are being worked on. We're working with museums, we're working with libraries, we're working with the private sector to come up with more and more engaging ideas and a lot of people want to help our young people. I’ve talked to a lot of folks in the media and entertainment world, they want to help provide new and better options for our young people. So, this is a little framing of what is to come, much more to say in the next few weeks, but we're going to provide a rich range of options and safe options for our young people.

Okay, now, one of the things that has become clear in this crisis is when you need to do distance learning – when you need to do online learning – you’ve got to have a device to learn on. You got to have internet service. And we've all known about the digital divide, we've all talked about the digital divide, but it became very real and very tangible when this crisis hit because we knew a lot of kids couldn't get what they needed because they didn't have the technology. And so, the Chancellor and his whole team, they really very urgently and immediately said, we're going to solve this problem right now. They went out and acquired 300,000 iPads and we have been reaching out incessantly over the last weeks to find any family that needed one for their student. The original goal was 300,000 to be distributed to public school students. We kept reiterating the opportunity and many, many people signed up, but we saw there still weren't as many signups as there were iPads so we opened it up further and we said, if you're a student with disabilities who goes to a private school, independent school, a religious school, we want to help you too and we'll provide these iPads to you and more and more people signed up on top of that. So, as of today, we met our goal for the end of April of sending out an iPad to everyone who had signed up at that point. But then we – as we opened the doors further, more and more have come forward. So, now, as of today, 284,000 iPads have been delivered, 5,000 more have been shipped and on the way. And there were requests for more on top of that. The number now will reach 297,000, and I want to remind everyone out there that if there's still any young person in our public schools who does not have a device, who does not have internet service, you still can sign-up; call 3-1-1 we'll still make sure an iPad gets to you. The goal is to give every student the ability to learn, every student the access to all of this new programming that's being put together. And we understand the challenge, but we also understand what is called on us as adults, what we're called on to do, which is to create the best, most positive, most usable summer learning approach in the history of the school system to lead into the strongest, best school year in the history of this school system. We have to aim high. We, and I'm saying this from the beginning and I keep saying it throughout, our educators have done an amazing job these last months; our parents have too, our kids have too, we're going to keep building that momentum. When we come back in September, we're going to do things that have never been done before to accelerate the learning of our students so they will catch up from anything that might have been missed in this crisis and then go beyond. Before this crisis, New York City public schools were getting better all the time. We are not going to let that momentum slip. We're going to take this moment, this heroic moment and what we've seen from our educators and we're going to build upon it and create a new kind of momentum.

You know, lots and lots of people are asking questions about what's going to happen in the fall and it's still too early of course, to predict. But I'll tell you one thing, when we look to the fall, when we look to everything we want to do to re-open schools, unquestionably number one factor will be safety – the health and safety of our children, our parents, our educators, our school staff. And we've been looking at that from the beginning and that's going to be the first question in answering all of the challenges ahead. Now, that would've been true had we not seen the developments in the last few weeks, but obviously what we've seen with this new syndrome MIS-C causes us additional concern because it's about safety and health. So, if something new is happening or something has become evident, that wasn't evident before, we're going to focus on it, stay focused on it and it of course will be a factor in making decisions about what we do with our schools going forward.

Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, this is the name that the Centers for Disease Control is now giving it – this is what we will refer to it as. And I told you yesterday, new guidance has come from the CDC and we're working with that now. So, MIS-C, the symptoms are there on the screen, talked about them a number of times. If you're any child in your life has those symptoms particularly in combination, please call your doctor immediately - if you don't have a doctor call 3-1-1. Now, as of this moment with the initial definition we used, 147 confirmed cases – 69 of those cases, kids who tested positive for COVID or had antibodies. One child has been lost and obviously we never want to lose another child. We're going to have more updated information with the new categories, the new specifications we've gotten from the CDC. We will keep updating you on what we're learning as a result of the work the CDC is doing, but the bottom line is it is so important to just get the message out, early detection makes a huge difference. If you see these symptoms in children call it in to a healthcare professional immediately so we can protect that child.

Now, to protect all of us, we need to make sure our hospitals, our health care providers have the blood supply that they need. Normally, honestly, this is something that year-in, year-out, the blood supply is secure - it's strong. We've really not had a situation like this before. I've talked to a lot of our health leaders and they don't remember anything like this, but it stands to reason we've never had an economic shutdown before and a huge amount of the blood supply came from corporate, corporate blood drives, blood drives by different organizations, charitable civic organizations, government agencies typically would do a blood drive. So, all of that's been cut off and disrupted. Therefore, the blood supply has gotten lower than we ever could have imagined. Now, we're going to put additional safeguards in place going forward to make sure that we don't have this kind of situation again and we're encouraging all New Yorkers who can give blood to do so right away. We started talking about this a couple of days ago. So far, 2,500 New Yorkers have made appointments to give blood just in the last few days. That's a great start, that's going to help a lot, but I want to see thousands more come forward. I'm going to do it myself. I want to see thousands come forward to give blood, to make sure our hospitals have what they need. So, all sorts of times I've heard New Yorkers say they want to help in this crisis and I believe you and so many good people doing so much to help their fellow New Yorker. If you can give blood, this is a good moment to give back to the city. This is absolutely a reason to travel, to go and give blood. You're doing a great public service for your fellow New Yorker. So, anyone who can, we need you make an appointment with the New York Blood Center today; You can go online at, let's say again, or you can call 800-933-2566 and make an appointment and give blood and save lives.

Okay, now when we think about what we've learned and we've all learned so much during this crisis, here's a disease that again, less than a year ago, no one had heard of in terms of it being something that affected human beings. And we've all had to make so many adjustments, learn so much, and we still don't know everything that we need to know about this disease. The entire international medical community doesn't know enough, but there's some things we do know and one of the things we've seen here in the city and around our nation is that this disease amplifies the disparities that already exist in our society. And it's painful because we're talking about disparities based on race and class. We're talking about both ethnic and economic disparities that have plagued our city, our nation and once again, we see that those who are suffering the most, lower income folks, folks in communities of color, folks in the immigrant communities. So, that has been the health care reality. But we know, on top of that, adding to the pain has been the economic impact as well – this double crisis, the worst health care crisis in the century in this country and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. What a horrible one-two punch and, of course, communities that were already hurting are now taking the hit even harder.

We, the City of New York, our City government, we're going to fight back. We're going to use all our tools to fight disparity. We've been doing that in so many ways over the last six-and-a-half years. We're going to amplify those efforts. And that means every conceivable form of redistribution, that means making sure that we get resources to folks who have been unfairly denied resources, unfairly denied opportunity. And one of the best ways to do that is ensuring that more and more business goes to minority- and women-owned businesses. We do that through a very aggressive M/WBE contracting effort in the City of New York that's been growing by billions and billions of dollars every year, but we have to go even farther. We have to come up with new approaches, new innovations. We have to reach more and more M/WBE’s, because that is an act of fairness and justice, because we know when we provide resources to an M/WBE that, that money goes right into the neighborhood, and circulates and provides economic empowerment, people get hired, people who learn at one business start their own business. It's important any time, but it's particularly important in light of this crisis. So, we've had extraordinary efforts by those working on our M/WBE initiatives over these last years. I want to thank our Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson. I want to thank the man who led so many of our efforts, Jonnel Doris as director of our M/WBE office who has now become our Commissioner for Small Business Services. Gregg Bishop, who was that commissioner, now my senior advisor to help us build a whole new initiative to help small businesses in this city. They all made major, major contributions. But with Jonnel taking on his new role, I have the honor of naming a new senior advisor and director for our M/WBE office. The important thing to think about here is that we've got to do something transformative, we've got to do something different. And to do that, I wanted someone who had already proven her ability to make change and to take us places we hadn't been before. Magalie Austin, known as Maggie – Maggie has served for years as our Chief Diversity and Industry Relations Officer for our Department of Design and Construction – DDC. The Department of Design and Construction does a huge amount of work around this city. And what we saw as with so many agencies was there were extraordinary opportunities going missed to help minority- and women-owned businesses to get a chance to win those contracts and build up their businesses and serve their communities. Maggie took a situation where there was many missed opportunities and turned it into a situation where opportunities were being fulfilled for so many companies. She did extraordinary work at DDC. She oversaw a portfolio of projects valued at over $20 billion – a team of almost 1,400 employees that she worked with to make change, and she did it very, very effectively. Maggie is a New Yorker through and through, grew up in the city, a St. John's graduate, someone who loves and knows this city. So, she is going to take the work that's been done these last years, and that has included a more than doubling the number of certified M/WBE’s that can get this work with the city and the huge expansion in contracts that has existed, and she's going to supercharge it, take it forward and take us to a new place and that is going to help us address the economic disparities and help communities back on their feet. So, welcome, Maggie. I know you're going to hit the ground running and we are going to be depending on you to help us fight our way back from this crisis.

Okay. So, I am thankful for the very, very talented members of this team who do such good work for the people of New York City. And I like to express that thanks all the time, and I've been noticing lately when there are particular days or weeks or months that celebrate our public workforce and all the people that do so much good for us. So, here is a moment where there's an annual week devoted to some heroes who we should be appreciative any time, any year, but this year in this crisis they have done extraordinary things. This week for 2020 is FDNY’s EMS Week, and it is falling at a very fitting time because our EMTs, our paramedics, our EMS staff have been superstars. So much has been asked of them and they have performed brilliantly. This was literally weeks ago, we hit the point in the entire history of New York City the most calls went to EMS in its history and it held – an extraordinary organization held no matter what was thrown at it. Thank God, the numbers have come way down and things are substantially back to normal. But these heroes, they went through so much and did so much good and they saved so many lives. I think of all the members of EMS who fought so valiantly through this, but I particularly think about the four members of EMS who lost their lives in this crisis. EMT Gregory Hodge, EMT John Redd, EMT, EMT Idris Bey, EMT Richard Seaberry. These were members of our EMS, valiant New Yorkers, gave everything they had to save lives and protect people. We've lost them and we need to honor them and remember them. And we also need to think about a man who came here from Colorado to help us. He didn't have to, he chose to – Paul Cary, serving as a paramedic here in the height of the crisis and we lost him to the coronavirus as well. And we will remember all of them, and there's a special place in our heart for Paul's family. They will always be regarded by us as New Yorkers and we'll always be there for them.

So, the members of EMS have done amazing, amazing work. I've had the honor of speaking with a number of these heroes and thanking them and listening to their stories and understanding the amazing work they do. Please, if you see anyone who's part of EMS, give them a special thank you this week and every week for all they do. And we all know we've lost not just these extraordinary members of EMS, we've lost other first responders in this crisis. We've lost public health care workers. We've lost people who work in City agencies and served us. People who weren't famous, but people who are there for their fellow New Yorkers. We've lost a lot of public servants to this horrible disease that came out of nowhere and has afflicted us so deeply. 270 New York City employees have been lost to the coronavirus – 270. And it's so important for us to say to their families that we will be there for you. Not just words but deeds – we will be there for you. We owe that to you. Your loved one gave their all to us. We will be there for you. A few days ago, we extended health insurance for an additional 45 days to families of City employees that we've lost, that was at the request of the municipal labor committee. And we've been fighting to get more and more benefits for the families who have lost loved ones in the federal stimulus legislation. And there is some very good activity in Washington. I want to be clear, in the stimulus passed by the House, in a separate bill passed by the Senate sponsored by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, very good steps are being taken to help first responders, to help people who have been heroes in this crisis, and the families of those we've lost, but we need to go farther. We waited to see what was going to happen in Washington and what we've seen is a step in the right direction, but it's not enough, so we need to go farther. Many leaders have called for new and better approaches to helping those that we have lost and their families. And I want you to know, everyone who has been raising the concern, I've been listening. Members of the City Council – I know in particular Council Member Daneek Miller, Council Member Joe Borrelli have been two of the particularly strong voices. So, I've come to the conclusion that the right thing to do is to help the families who have lost their loved ones, to give them line of duty benefits. This horrible crisis came out of nowhere, grabbed this city, and these valiant city employees kept fighting no matter what. The City of New York believes, I believe, they deserve, their families deserve line of duty benefits for any death that was connected to COVID-19. So, to get that done, I'm calling upon the State of New York to act and I am officially asking the State of New York to authorize line of duty benefits for those public employees that we've lost. We'll work with all of our partners in Albany to get this done. We'll work with the City Council. We need to take this weight off the shoulders of the families of these valiant New Yorkers. They need to know their futures will be secure. And look, we can give all the praise, and we mean it – I know I speak on behalf of 8.6 million New Yorkers when I express my condolences to the families who have lost their loved one, my appreciation for all these public servants we've lost and all they've done for us – that these families need to know that they will be protected. And that's why we're going to fight for line of duty benefits for them to protect their futures.

Okay. Now, let's talk about our daily indicators. This is what we every day look to, to help us understand how far we've come and where we're going. Some days are really good, other days are mixed bag. Today is a mixed bag and it's a reminder of how much we have to stick to the plan. So, indicator one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 is up from 48 to 57. Again, a much lower number than we used to have, which I always appreciate, but still numbers going in the wrong direction today. Daily number of people in ICUs across Health + Hospitals for suspected COVID-19 has also gone up from 475 to 492. But the percentage of people that tested positive for COVID-19 citywide has gone down from 11 percent to nine percent, and I very much like to see that single digit number, nine percent. So, again, mixed bag, more to do. Take some real comfort and some real inspiration from that last number, because that's a real good sign, but let's keep focused on the mission and we will get there together.

Okay. A few words in Spanish –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, we will turn to our colleagues in the media. Please let me know the name and outlet of each journalist.

Moderator: Just a quick reminder that we have Chancellor Carranza in the Blue Room, and on the phone we have Dr. Barbot, Dr. Katz, and Campion. Alex from Chalkbeat is up first. Alex?

Question: Hey, Mr. Mayor. Two quick questions. One, I'm assuming the expansion of summer school is meant to help students who have struggled with remote learning. So, I'm just curious, like, how more remote learning will help – like, will it be different at all from what we're getting in the regular school year? And two, you talked a little bit about situations where it could be mandatory and situations where it wouldn't. Can you just spell it out a little bit more clearly, like when this will be mandatory and when it won't and whether parents can elect into it if they want to? Like, if they think their child might need more support over the summer, can they asked be part of it?

Mayor: Alex, I'll start and turn Chancellor. Look, the question's fair – if a kid hasn't gotten done everything they need to, how does more help them? Well, first of all, I'd say a lot of kids – the disruption, they're having to get used to a new model, there's a certain amount of drag, there's a certain amount of acclimation, and that's true for all of us – educators getting in the swing of it, parents getting in the swing of it, kids getting in the swing of it. Also, a lot of kids, as we said, didn't have the technology. We had to get it to them. But I think it's really true to say with every passing week, everyone's learning how to do it better. So, if a young person couldn't get done everything he needed to do, but we have, you know, more time and a more flexible approach that we can apply in that time, it stands to reason that you're going to see additional gains. So, that's something that I'm convinced is going to work for a lot of kids. With that, on the other questions you asked – turn to the Chancellor.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: Thank you. Thank you, Alex. I think what's important to understand here is that the people who know their students best are parents, teachers, and principals. So, the recommendations as to who is required to attend summer learning and who is recommended is going to be that individual analysis that teachers in communication with parents are having in terms of their child's academic progress. There are some students that will be required to attend summer learning. For example, students that at the end of the term are recommended for non-promotion, there'll be required to go to summer learning. Students at the high school level that have an in-progress classification will be required to go to summer learning. But there are others – and to your question, that communication, that that back and forth between parents and teachers could lead to a student being recommended because they have more gaps to fill or they have more learning that they need to do. This is why the two words we've used from the beginning of our pivot to remote learning – flexibility and patience. We're really going to count on our parents and our teachers to continue in that mode, but there's a myriad of reasons why a student would be required or recommended. And again, the people that are best positioned to make those kinds of decisions are their teachers, principals and parents working in concert.

Moderator: Emily from NY1 is up next. Emily?

Question: Mayor de Blasio, how are you? And how has everyone on the call? I wondered if the projection of students in grades three to eight – much higher than those who were [inaudible] to attend summer school last year. That's an indication that some students have fallen very far behind during the pandemic during remote learning.

Mayor: Yeah. Emily, I think it's quite clear that you take away, you know, months of the school year in the much more effective setting of everyone being together in a school building where teachers can use all their skills to maximum impact – of course it's going to have an impact and it's going to be a negative impact in a lot of cases. But what is important is how much ground has been made up by kids, by parents, by educators in the meantime. And it's actually very striking to me – I think this is, you know, very legitimate glass half full – how many kids managed keep going and keep learning so effectively. But it stands to reason it would be harder and some kids would have to need more time and more help. But the fact is – here's the good side of the equation with distance learning – it's very flexible. You can do it, you know, different times a day, you can do it weekends, you can do it summer, and so it's going to give us that catch up opportunity. So, unquestionably more kids need the help than would have been true in a traditional year. But we also have tools to work with to get that done. You want to add?

Chancellor Carranza: I'll only add Mr. Mayor that we looked at last year's data in terms of how many students were being served in summer learning. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison because there was a lot of other kinds of summer programming and schools had their own individual summer programs. This year is going to be centralized because we want to reach as many students as possible. Again, the academic term has not finished either. We haven't ended this school year. So, we are projecting and providing capacity to be able to serve as many students as possible and students that will need this kind of support. So it's a combination of both being prepared and also looking and triangulating the data from last year and looking at what should we be ready to do. We feel very confident that every student that needs this kind of support and we want to make sure that teachers that recommend summer learning for their student there will be a place for that student to be able to have that service.

Moderator: Shant from the Daily News is up next. Shant?

Question: Good morning everyone. Another question about summer school for you, Mr. Mayor and Chancellor Carranza, can you provide details of the prerecorded lesson component and address possible concerns that that kind of approach won't really engage students. Also on line of duty benefits, given that both the State legislative process and basically everything in Congress can take a lot of time. Why not use your emergency power, Mr. Mayor to expedite some level of funding out of the city budget to families of first responders? Thank you.

Mayor: Thank you Shant. I'll start and pass to the Chancellor on the other question. We're going to do whatever it takes, Shant, to make sure these families get these line of duty benefits. I believe the legislature will act quickly. They're planning to act on some other matters – to the best of my understanding, I think this is something that knowing the city supports they would embrace and they would act on. So according to everything I understand about State law the right way to get this done and the way that we'll really have both the immediate and the lasting impact for families is to do it through the State legislature. If we sense there's going to be a meaningful delay there and there's other things we can do, of course I'll look for every way to help these families. But I think this is something that will get, you know, real immediate attention from our colleagues at the State level. Chancellor you want to speak to the other piece?

Chancellor Carranza: Sure. So, the learning modality over the summer will be a mixture of live learning, virtual learning, and some prerecorded learning as well, but our focus is to have as much live learning as possible. In the education speak, we call it synchronous learning. Now the time period between the end of this academic semester and the start of summer learning will be used for additional professional development for our teachers that will be teaching in the remote learning venue over the summer. So, we will do some more skill development. Actually, we have quite a number of teachers in New York City that are already very skilled at remote learning, synchronous learning, live teaching, if you will. So, we're going to also tap into their expertise and share that broadly over the summer as well, as well as how we prepare for any eventuality as well, so it'll be a mixture. But again, it's all focused on making sure that students are engaged and they're making up or taking care of whatever educational requirements they need. The one other thing that I can't emphasize enough is these one-on-one check-ins that will happen. Counselors will be available, social workers are going to be available, teachers will be checking on students. So again, the social-emotional needs, a trauma-informed pedagogy that we will be providing these students and families over the summer is in many ways just as important as the academic needs being addressed as well.

Moderator: Erin from Politico is up next. Erin?

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Two questions. One about line of duty? Do you have an estimate for how much this will cost? Just to clarify, you're talking about all city workers, not just a uniformed first responders, right? And my second question is, have you discussed with the Governor what will happen if the city hits the State's indicators but not the City's indicators. Sounds like you said the State indicators should be hit in the first half of June. We haven't seen long stretches of, of continuous progress on the city ones. So, what's going to happen if those aren't in sync?

Mayor: Erin, on your first question, we'll get you the dollar estimate, but the bottom-line, yes. All city employees who died because of COVID-19, let's be clear, all city employees who died because of COVID-19, their families will receive death benefits. This is what the City of New York wants to see happen. This is what I want to see happen. Again, we'll go to the State legislature to get this done and we expect a lot of partnership there. The indicators look, I believe that they are going to link up. I believe they're obviously interrelated. They're not two different universes there. There are statistics and facts that interrelate to each other and move in very similar fashions. So, it's clear to me looking at both that the first half of June is the time where they all come together. If we think for any reason that's not going to happen and we'll have that conversation with the State. But I think there's been tremendous unity with the State on the fact that we're going to be careful and smart about when to do the first steps of reopening. We're going to watch carefully in each phase to make sure things work and don't go in the wrong direction. We're all very devoted to avoiding that boomerang. So, it's a very fair question, but I strongly believe they will align and as we get toward that point, if we don't see enough alignment, we'll have that conversation. I'm sure we will be able to find a common strategy to go forward.

Moderator: Yoav from The City is up next. Yoav?

Question: Hi everyone. I wanted to ask about the Health Department's analysis of what's happening at NYCHA as far as coronavirus. In a press release it said yesterday quote, the findings show that the degree to which residents of NYCHA have been affected by COVID-19 is proportionate to their representation of the city's population. Now my understanding that that was based on the number of confirmed cases, not on the number of deaths which did show a disproportionate impact. So my question is whether the death data was factored into that conclusion by the Health Department and if not, why not? Separately, I just had a quick question about testing sites. The Health Department put out a very useful map yesterday on where the sites are located. Thank you for that. But it looks like on the, on the map there isn't a site anywhere near the Rockaways which is one of the hardest impacted areas of the city. So, wondering where the closest site is and, and why there isn't a site that's closer there? Thank you.

Mayor: Thank you very much, Yoav. Let me confirm because now we're over 150 sites. Let me – the team here will get an answer either right now hopefully or to you right after, but we're trying to reach every neighborhood and keep building from there. So I want to confirm if there isn't a good site there, we'll get them one right away. But I want to make sure out of the 150, I want to see if your assessment is correct there. Look, any place that that needs more – the goal is to keep spreading the testing farther and farther around the city, keep adding more and more sites. So this will be a constant growth effort from now on.

On the question of NYCHA, look, we have been trying to really focus on people who live in public housing now for years long before this horrible virus, and I have to be blunt that for a long time I think the city government tried to ignore its obligations to public housing, and we over the last years have put a huge amount of resources into trying to improve the lives of public housing residents who have gone through so much. They happen to be folks who fall exactly into the categories of people who have borne the brunt of this crisis. Obviously overwhelmingly lower-income folks, people from communities of color, folks who in so many cases have not been given the health care they deserved over years because health care is still given out according to your bank account, not your need in this country, and that's wrong, and we're trying to fix that with guaranteed health care. What the data I saw said, I think you're right to say there's a difference between the people who have been infected by the disease versus the number of deaths. The number of people infected by the coronavirus in public housing appears to be almost exactly consistent with the amount of people in public housing and their presence in the population in New York City. The death number is higher. I think the fact is that we're always trying to understand what we need to do to serve people and help people. I know in NYCHA there's been tremendous devotion to making sure that residents got whatever help they needed. We've set up a testing sites at NYCHA. The State has as well. We've distributed face coverings to NYCHA residents for free food initiatives. I just been on a very rigorous cleaning schedule. So we know there's been a whole host of initiatives taken to protect people and those will continue and will deepen. So that's, that's the approach we're taking to protect our residents of public housing. Commissioner Barbot, you want to add?

Commissioner Barbot: Yes, Mr. Mayor. You know, we are and have been and will continue to be committed to transparency and we've been clear that yes, COVID-19 has affected communities of color disproportionately. In fact, you know, black and brown people are dying at twice the rate of white New Yorkers, and we're committed to ensuring that that information informs this response, and as the Mayor said, you know, there have been testing sites put in NYCHA facilities. You know, I want to just make it clear that in the press release that we put out, we also included the number of individuals who died because of COVID-19, either confirmed or probable and were residents of NYCHA, and you know, we lost unfortunately a little bit over 1,100 people who have lived or lived in NYCHA, so we are very committed to ensuring that, you know, we look at the data in any and all the ways possible and that's why we put it all out because it's important for us to make sure that we are transparent in this, in that we give communities the opportunity to interrogate the data and ensure that we are not missing ways in which we can further help support all New Yorkers, especially those living in NYCHA.

Moderator: Next is Brigid from WNYC. Brigid?

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Two questions, one just to follow up on some of the summer school announcements. I'm wondering if you or the Chancellor could talk any more about the criteria that will be used to decide what students should attend summer school this year given how different the learning experience has been, and then secondly, related to this new Health Department data that was released yesterday, another follow up for some of these areas that we saw such high death rates, specifically places like Star City in Far Rockaway in addition to some of the demographics, that helps explain why there's such a high prevalence there, is the City trying to understand if there's any other, you know, physical infrastructure issues like the air flow between apartments that could be part of the cost for why the spread and the death rate are still high there?

Mayor: Thank you Brigid. Let me have the chance to go first and then we'll turn to Dr. Barbot and Dr. Katz for their thoughts.

Chancellor Carranza: Sure. So, Brigid, thank you for the follow-up. Again. the recommendations for summer school including required attendance and recommended attendance are all based on the teacher's analysis of the academic progress of the student. That's not done in isolation. It's done in consultation with parents. It's also done at looking at the entirety of the students' academic performance over the course of the year. It's important to keep in mind that once we, when we pivoted to remote learning, almost three quarters of the school year had already been logged. So, there is all of that time as well to keep in mind as well. Earlier there was a question about is there an opt-in option? There isn't an opt-in option, but if a parent does feel that their child needs some additional instruction in this summer remote learning venue that's a conversation they should have with their teacher. The required elements for students to attend summer learning are obviously at the high school level students that have been given in-progress mark or students that have not completed the requirements for one of the courses, and, and for other students, it's students that had been re recommended for retention in June. Those are the lower grade students as well. Those other two hard and fast rules the rest is really based on that analysis that teachers and parents and principals will make together as they look at the academic progress of their children.

Mayor: Thank you, Chancellor. Dr. Barbot?

Commissioner Barbot: So, with regards to the parts of the city where we're seeing higher transmission, we are [inaudible] investigative pieces and try and identify potential clusters. We have not identified any clusters that have been linked to transmission [inaudible] for example apartment ventilation systems. There is, to my knowledge, no indication in the ever-growing literature that's being put out by scientists across the world in terms of COVID-19 being transmitted through ventilator systems, and so you know, it's something that we are continuing examining the literature and I think the best advice that we will continue to give workers is what we've been saying with regards to the best way to slow down and stop transmission of COVID-19 is for individuals to practice good hand hygiene, practice good respiratory hygiene meaning covering your mouth and your nose when you cough or you sneeze. Diligent hand-washing new stuff, face coverings when you go outside and staying indoors as much as possible.

Moderator: Next is Matt from Newsday. Matt? Hey, Matt?

Question: Can you hear me?

Mayor: There you go. How you doing?

Question: Hey, good. I'm doing all right. How about yourself?

Mayor: Good. Thank you.

Question: For the Mayor – will a business hosting an illegal gathering be spare to summons, provided the gathering disperses immediately upon request? And for Dr. Barbot, was the PPE in that depot at issue in March primarily intended for health care workers?

Mayor: Wait, say that again please. That last part.

Question: Sure, for Dr. Barbot, the PPE at issue at the depot in March. Was it primarily intended for folks who are health care workers?

Mayor: So, Matt, let me start on that and we'll turn to Dr. Barbot and then I'll answer your other question on the businesses. Again, the – I think the frame of the question misses the way we had to approach this from the beginning and I was intimately involved in the efforts to find PPEs all over the globe to protect our people. I spent a whole lot of time, whether it was on the phone with the White House or FEMA, or whether it was calling people who had leads to get us PPEs or talking to CEOs of companies who produce them or working to get them produced here in New York City. So, I can tell you from a lot of knowledge that from the beginning it was clear. We were really in a dangerous situation of not having enough of a supply coming from the federal government or from the international market and we had to keep building that supply rapidly. But we had to think about that supply in terms of the needs of our hospitals, our health care workers, and our first responders because everyone was interconnected. An EMT or a paramedic who brought someone to a hospital was in the same connection that doctors and nurses were who treated that patient. Many, many times, our police officers had to go into situations where they're dealing with people with COVID-19 and have to help them in a variety of ways, and everyone deserves protection.

So again, I have a feeling of tremendous respect for all of our public servants who've served the frontline. Our first responders, we were asking so much of them, they deserve protection. Our health care heroes deserve protection. Our job was to take whatever we had, get it to everyone who needed it, and then keep finding more all the time, and there was not a choice of saying, oh, you know, you're a correction officer or police officer or firefighter, EMT, we don't think we can give you something because we have to give it to someone else. No, we looked from the position of we had to supply the correction officer, the EMT, the paramedic, the police officer, and we had to supply the doctor and the nurse and the health care worker. So that was the understanding from the very beginning and to constantly try and make sure that we got what we needed, where we needed in time but against a tough, tough backdrop where it was constantly a challenge. And if we had just worked with the supply we had, we would have been lost in a matter of weeks. We had to constantly focus on expanding supply and that very successful effort. And a lot of credit goes to a core group of people. Emma Wolfe played a role and Jackie Bray and Jimmy O'Neill and Dan Symon and many, many others They succeeded every week and finding more and more and more, which is why we were able to keep those who needed PPEs in a steady supply them at the crisis level. I want to emphasize, Matt, not the level we would have ideally wanted in terms of the PPEs but at the crisis level according to the CDC standards. So, I want to give you that framing. Let me go to Dr. Barbot and then I'll come back on your second question, Matt.

Commissioner Barbot: Thank you, Mr. Mayor, and yes, you know, I think the way that you've put it as exactly how I was going to put it, you know, these were crisis situations where of course we needed to provide personal protective equipment for all of our first line responders and doctors and nurses, NYPD, EMTs, and we were making hard decisions all the time. I want to just make sure that there's no ambiguity, that we value all of our first responders equally, and that we were all working under extremely tough situations, but that we were working as a team and we were able to provide personal protective equipment for our first responders. Do we wish we were able to do more at that time? Absolutely. But you know, we were working under such extreme circumstances and really looking to everyday secure additional resources for the heroes on the front line. So, Mr. Mayor, I echo your framing and I just want to clarify that there was always a spirit of collaboration and I wish, you know, every day making hard decisions that we were able to do more at the time. But the great thing now is that we're able to provide the ongoing PPE that our first responders and NYPD, nurses and doctors, EMTs need every day.

Mayor: Thank you, doctor, I want to take one step back before answering the second part of Matt's question. Yoav asked the question about the Rockaways, based on what's been handed to me, Yoav I think you're right and the update is there will be a site in the Rockaways opened on June 1st. So that's going to be corrected quickly and as I said, there's going to be many additional sites around the city. On a Matt’s question, Matt, you'll remember the day that I directed that restaurants and bars no longer serve people in person, you know, no more dining in restaurants and bars, drinking in bars. That was a long time ago that we made very, very clear that was unacceptable. And you'll remember in the days after we sent out a massive enforcement operation and actually very few restaurants or bars were not complying and most if there was any outstanding issue, corrected it immediately, and we only found a few instances where there was resistance or unwillingness to address what needed to be addressed. And these are for profit businesses and where we found that there were some summonses but it wasn't a handful. Since then, we have not found there to be a problem. We've had a few reports lately.

But again, our goal is wherever possible, if we see a problem, we just want the problem corrected. We're not trying to take money out of people's pocket in the middle of an economic crisis. We want the problem corrected. If there's resistance to correcting the problem, then we will unquestionably issue summonses. If there's continued resistance, more summonses or even a close down a business or a building. So, I think as much as I understand the real desire to see clear, linear dynamics, the one thing I want to emphasize is the overwhelming reality has been people have done what we've asked them to do, and most people when reminded, take the reminder and act on accordingly, and we have very, very rarely since this crisis began, had to use summons. But when we need to, we will. It's quite clear if we, if the only way to fix a problem is with a summons, we will absolutely use a summons.

Moderator: Jeff in the New York Times is up next. Jeff?

Question: Good morning to the mayor and the panel. Two questions. The first one is for Dr. Barbot. Dr. Barbot, after attending 54 out of 55 news conferences since the first positive case of coronavirus in New York City, why have you been absent from the last four news conferences? Second question is for the Mayor. Mr. Mayor, who among your commissioners and senior staff is in charge of the city's public health response to the coronavirus pandemic?

Mayor: So, Jeff I'll start. I see you're always interested in personnel matters and that's great, but I think you should never miss the forest for the trees. This is a team effort. It was constructed as a team effort. It has been a team effort. It will be a team effort. And whatever definitions you or anyone else wants to put on, that's fine, but you know where the government here to serve people and we build the operation that will protect New Yorkers, and that's exactly what we've been doing. So, the way I look at it, we have a team, Dr. Perea-Henze as Deputy Mayor, working with commissioners under his leadership, including Dr. Barbot and Dr. Katz. Jay Varma’s good work as my Senior Advisor. And we work with the State and we work with the federal government, and this is something that we work on literally, of course, every single day. So that's the way we have structured things. The major decisions come right here to me. Throughout this whole crisis that's been the reality. This is the farthest thing from business as usual. And the other reality is that when we organize a press conference and we've been having them incessantly, we put together whatever group of officials make sense for that given day, and that's what we'll keep doing. So you can expect that every day you'll see different lineups and that's been the reality from the beginning and you should expect that going forward. But again, I don't know, I think some people like to see things in silos. I don't, I've spent six and a half years breaking down silos in this government and trying to create a much more of a team approach, and that's the only way to handle something of this magnitude. So that's how we've structured things. Dr. Barbot, you want to add?

Commissioner Barbot: Mr. Mayor, I just to echo what you said, that this response has been characterized by a team and we are – I am committed to continuing to work as part of that team.

Mayor: Thank you.

Moderator: Last two, Kathleen from Patch. Kathleen?

Question: Hi, this is a question about the summer programming. When will families find out when their kids have taken these classes? Will they be staggered through the summer or will they be taking place in one block of time, say July and then two weeks in August? And then my second question is, do any of the summer programming include opportunities for kids to be earning some money this summer as they might've done before the crisis hit?

Mayor: So, Chancellor, you're going to talk about how you're structuring the programs. Look, we, Kathleen, on your question, we very much want to think about anything and everything we can do to help our young people this summer. The traditional methodologies that, you know, were available to give kids summer opportunities where they could earn money. Those have obviously been profoundly disrupted. Our budget's been profoundly disrupted. But we're going to still keep trying to find solutions. We're going to work with the City Council to see if we can think of creative ways to move forward. But in the meantime, we're going to make sure, even if kids can't get outside, that there's a lot of great opportunities for them to learn and have positive engagement during the summer months. Chancellor, do you want to speak to the specific questions?

Chancellor Carranza: Sure. So, the summer learning time will be in a block of weeks, six weeks. There won't be any staggering. It'll all happen simultaneously. July through August.

Moderator: Last question goes to Duncan from the Gay City news. Duncan?

Question: Hi Mayor, I hope you're doing well through all of this.

Mayor: Thank you, Duncan. How have you been?

Question: I've been fine, thank you. I have a very quick question about shutting businesses down, which you've spoken to. Exactly, how do you propose to do that? You have to go to court to get a temporary restraining order in as a prelude to a court case. Can the Health Department just shut it down? Can the NYPD just shut it down? What's going to be the methodology if you have to do that?

Mayor: It's a great question, Duncan, and I'm happy to say, and you know, our team will get you the exact scorecard here if you will, but I got to say whatever we may have thought would happen in a situation like this, our city has been amazing in the sense of how little we have seen. Again, it's now been, you know, March, April, halfway through May, 8.6 million people and the greatest health care crisis we've ever seen. you might've expected a lot of people to not make the adjustments or try to resist or be really greedy and you didn't see that. You saw the vast, vast majority of people really respect what had to be done in this crisis, support each other, do the right thing. Again that – right after the order on the restaurants and bars, I would not have been shocked if there was a need for a certain amount enforcement. There was almost none unnecessary in terms of any kind of sanction. So I do think it's important to recognize how rare it has been that we have needed to take the more rigorous measures.

Now you, you've talked about the process and again we will get you more information about the specifics with the court systems, obviously not functioning as normal right now. Best of my understanding, you know, immediate actions by the police department, fire department, Buildings Department, Sheriff's Department, if they see something that is an immediate danger, they can act. Obviously, we're under emergency – state of emergencies or that empowers actions on behalf of public health and safety. But I also understand the Health Department's ability to issue a cease and desist order if they see something that presents a public health hazard and the Commissioner's orders are something that could be acted on very quickly. So, Commissioner Barbot you want to add to that? Well, let's try that again. Commissioner, do you hear me?

Commissioner Barbot: Sorry. Mr. Mayor, had some technical difficulties. I think you covered it and I don't know that I would have anything else to add beyond what you've already laid out. Thank you, sir.

Mayor: Thank you. Okay, well everybody I again, as you can hear in each day is presentation, I'm very sober about the challenge we face, but I'm also very hopeful. And I'm hopeful because I believe in the people of this city. I've been watching in a way that no one else gets to have the vantage point your mayor gets to have, and I've watched every corner of the city and how people have reacted to this crisis and it's been outstanding and it gives me a lot of hope for the city and its future because people who do this much good under this much duress, that's a special people. That's who New Yorkers are. But I have a special feeling for our young people and I want to focus on them in these last few words because I've seen so much in our young people. They're going through a lot as we talked about earlier, but I've seen so much strength in them.

I am probably affected by the fact that I'm the parent of a 25-year-old and a 22-year-old and they're proud graduates of New York City public schools and every moment of their education occurred in our public schools. But I saw in them and I saw in so many of their contemporaries, and I've seen in a lot of young people I've met since, a strength, a kind of steeliness that I think was evident long before this pandemic. I think it's been the reality of a generation that grew up with a lot of challenges. Sometimes they remind me of some of the stories I used to hear from my older relatives who grew up with the Depression of World War II. These kids at today, maybe it wasn't quite that, but they did grow up with the Great Recession. They did grow up with the threat of global warming looming over them. They've grown up and learned more earlier in life than any generation in previous human history because they've had access to so much information and information that caused a lot of them to grow up real fast, maybe sometimes too fast. But that's been the reality.

So, this generation – a generation I think in their own way as pretty tough – has then had to confront the coronavirus, and it's asking a lot of our kids, but what we've seen already is how many of them have found a way and have found a way to keep learning, and found a way to, you know, somehow make sense of a situation which is so confusing to all of us. This is the generation that will one day inherit this city and I see a lot of strength in them and it's our job to support them. It's our job to foster their futures, to believe in them, to do things that will support them even if there are things we haven't known how to do before, like distance learning, we're figuring it out. They're figuring out, we better figure it out too to be there for them. But I will tell you when we come back in September, as I said, we're going to have the greatest school year we've ever had because we have to, we owe it to them and they will be a new version of a Greatest Generation and they give me a lot of hope in terms of what kind of city we can have in the future, because they will be ready and it's our job to help them be ready. Thank you, everybody.

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