FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MARСH 26, 2020 • KIDS & EDUCATION • THE QUEENS COURIER 21
kids & education
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DOE educators discuss challenges faced at
newly launched Regional Enrichment Centers
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BY JENNA BAGCAL
On Monday, the Department of
Education launched Regional Enrichment
Centers (REC), providing a place to stay
for the children of emergency and essential
workers including those in healthcare,
the FDNY and NYPD, OEM and NYC
Th e agency opened approximately 100
centers across the fi ve boroughs, giving
children the opportunity to participate in
remote learning, art, music and physical
education while also practicing safe social
But some educators said that the RECs
have gotten off to a less than perfect start.
An assistant principal at a Manhattan
high school, who asked to remain anonymous,
said that it’s been diffi cult for
superintendents to fi nd administrators
with School Building Leader (SBL) licenses
to supervise these centers.
Th e assistant principal said that each
REC must have at least one SBL-certifi ed
educator present at all times in addition to
a school nurse and cafeteria and custodial
staff . Th e rest of the staff on site work on a
A substitute teacher from Queens, who
also wished to remain anonymous, asserts
that many of these volunteers are actually
fellow substitute teachers.
“Th e substitute teachers are not being
off ered remote learning situations, they’re
being off ered just going into these REC
centers. Substitute teachers have no paid
sick days, no medical insurance and no
benefi ts at all,” she said.
She added that the substitute teachers
are getting paid the same amount they
received in their regular roles but are
off ered prorated pay if they volunteer for
longer shift s.
“Many of the subs feel that they are not
willing to put their lives at stake or themselves
at risk when the DOE is not going
to do anything for them if they contract
the virus,” she said. “Also many of the substitute
teachers are on the older side and
they feel that they would be at ‘high risk’
to go in.”
She said that those who were asked to
volunteer to work at RECs had the option
to opt out of being contacted. Despite
having opted out of calls to volunteer,
due to possible exposure to a coworker
who contracted COVID-19, the substitute
teacher said she received “over 100 calls”
through the DOE’s SubCentral System
this past weekend.
But according to the assistant principal
from Manhattan, the schools and DOE
have been “trying their very best” to follow
CDC protocol and keep these centers
safe for the students and employees.
“Something that they have been stressing
a lot is the importance of social distancing.
Th ey arranged the desks to be very separate
and there is no more than 10 kids per adult
in the classrooms,” she said. “Custodial
staff is working overtime to clean everything.
Th ey increased the cleaning cycle
for those specifi c centers from the regular
twice a week to four times a week, which
puts a lot on their plates. But they’re trying
their very best at this moment. Everybody
is very tense and just making sure that
everybody is being kept safe.”