Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, everybody I'm really encouraged by what I see here at Village Academy. So, we're out in Far Rockaway. We are at a school that really speaks to me because this is a school created by an educator who wanted to do something different, wanted to do something better for the kids in this community. This is a community that's had its share of troubles and challenges over the years. But what Doris Lee has done is create a school that really responds to the needs of the community and uplifts the kids and Doris, I really want to thank you. It takes a lot to be an educator. It takes even more to create a school, to found a school and then make it something great. So, really want to thank you for all you have achieved, and then on top of that, when the Chancellor and I talked to Doris about what it's going to take to get ready – look, we have a month to go now till school begins, and I said, Doris, how's it looking? What are you doing? And she said, we've got a lot of educators who care about kids. They want to be there for the kids. We're going to make this work. It's going to take creativity and flexibility of course, we're dealing with a lot of things we’ve never dealt with before, but what I heard loud and clear in this leader's voice is we're going to make it work for the kids and we're going to make it safe and healthy for the kids, and that is the spirit you see here in this school.
So, as the Chancellor and I walked around, you see a lot of things that are different. You see the hallways are marked, so you go one way on one side, the other way. On the other side, you saw the spacing of the desk. I've never seen a classroom was so few kids who will be in it. I mean, think about it. We saw classrooms that are going to have no more than 10 kids in them. So, you're going to have the distancing. We saw the electrostatic cleaning. This is a game changer. The custodian told us that he can clean that room in two minutes or less and make it, every day, safe for kids. I mean, these are the powerful tools, and of course everyone with a face covering, the fact that kids are going to be eating at their desks. They're not going to the cafeteria for lunch. They're going to be eating at their desks. There's a lot of things here that are being done and they're common sense plans that are going to keep our kids safe.
So, I'm just really impressed that it's a whole month until school begins, and this much is already ready here at the Village Academy, and this is happening all over the school system. Principals, administrators, teachers, they're all working hard right now because they're entirely devoted to their kids. That's what I've learned over the years as a public school parent myself, and here's what I want to finish with before I turn the Chancellor. What is the alternative? The alternative is to deprive our kids the very best education available because I haven't met an educator that believes you can do the same things with remote learning that you can do in person. Even if you only do it a few days a week, the amount of education you can provide a kid, the amount of support and tutoring, the amount of mentoring, the amount of attention you can provide to their health, including their mental health needs in person is a measurably more than you can do remotely. We owe it to our kids to get this right. So, we're moving forward with that spirit of devotion to our children, and now turning to the man who has stuck with it every step of the way and is inspiring a team to move forward and get this right, our Chancellor Richard Carranza.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I just want to start off by absolutely adding to what you said about this incredible principal, Dr. Doris Lee, what an amazing job you're doing here. So, thank you. Thanks for taking us on a tour. I know that the students here at the Village Academy will be in very good hands when school starts in September, and the other thing I wanted to say is for a whole group of individuals that don't always get the recognition they deserve. I want to give a huge shout out to our custodial engineers, right here at this campus. What we saw here today is a lot of hard work, a lot of thoughtfulness and a real dedication to make sure that this site is safe for children and those that serve the children. So, the custodial engineers, I just want to say thank you for your hard work, and it sure feels good to be back in a school. During normal times, I'm usually out at schools at least twice, three times a week, and what I saw today is one of the things that I know is absolutely true. The people that know their schools the best are our principals, and what Doris and her team are doing here is possible because of the circumstances that they have in the configuration of their building and what the families want and how students will be in their buildings. That's what we've tried to do to, give guidance but then give the flexibility for principals who know their school sites best to actually implement all of those best practices. So, what do we see? Every classroom will have a hand sanitizer and a disinfectant available, face coverings are going to be required, and those who don't have a face covering, we will provide one for them. Social distancing, which the Mayor spoke of. We saw it in two different configurations in two different classes, but it's mandated, and as we saw rooms will be configured in different ways to accommodate for this using tape and markings and making sure that it's very clear where people are to go and not to go. Students will have individual spaces. So, there's no possibility of overlap between students, and we saw a demonstration of the electrostatic cleaner actually in use today. It was pretty amazing, right, sir. I think the Mayor and I geeked out a little bit on that because it's a neat new tool. But as the Mayor said in under two minutes, you can sanitize completely disinfect and sanitize a classroom, which should be a real sign of comfort to our parents wondering how are you going to do this every single night.
We're also here to thank our educators and school leaders for the tremendous work that they're doing in a school year that is unlike any that we have ever, ever faced before. Now, speaking to families, I want to be very clear to our families. This fall will be unlike any other fall we've ever experienced where students run into school and they hug each other and they're jumping over each other and they congregate in the cafeteria and they're hugging on the way to classes in the hallways – that will not happen this year. It will be very different. So, for parents, what can you do to help us as true partners? Start having those conversations with your children, start talking to your children about why it's important – it may be inconvenient, but why it's important that you wear your face covering all at all times. Why it's important that you maintain distance between you and your super best friend. It doesn't mean they're not your best friend. It just means you're keeping the distance to help them stay safe and help you stay safe. Why it's important that you follow the directional signs on hallway floors, all of those things that will be different. We should start talking to our children now, before they ever get to school, because it's important for students to understand that this fall will also be very different than anything that they've experienced and undergirding all of that is that we will continue have the strictest regimen for cleaning and for making sure that as we keep the virus in terms of community spread suppressed, it's only going to be possible by all of us continuing to do our part, and that includes our students, our parents, and our educators in all of the safety protocols that we have in place. So with that, I just, again, want to thank our principal, Dr. Lee for the tour. Mr. Mayor, thank you for coming out and seeing this firsthand and I'll turn it back over the Mayor.