Non-Negotiables

In addition to our demands to demarginalize healing and wellness over the longterm, We will not return to school sites until the following criteria are met…


Community voice must be empowered.

  • Community Based Policy-Making: Teacher, parent, student and community participation in all DOE-wide policy-making decisions and school-based Health Monitoring Teams.

  • Transparency and the Right to Know: DOE re-establishes trust by sharing risk of reporting to school buildings with all staff, students, and families. 

  • Public Employees in Public Schools: All employees who work in or for the schools serve the public and must be full time employees of the Department of Education, not private contractors, including but not limited to Custodians, Bus Drivers, Cafeteria Workers, and School Safety Agents. 


Physical health must be protected.

  • Public Health Standards: Mass testing, universal contact tracing, and social distancing, as outlined by the New York State Nurses Association, must be achieved throughout the NYC region and followed in our schools.

  • Basic Sanitation: Basic non-toxic sanitary supplies such as soap, soap dispensers, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, sanitary napkins, and toilet paper must be provided in all schools, now and in the future. 

  • PPE for All: Personal Protective Equipment and gloves must be regularly provided to all students and school-based staff, including cafeteria workers, SSAs and bus drivers.  Schools must provide PPE to students and families without the given resources.

  • Prioritize Space for Students: Space must be reorganized for prioritizing student use, such as creating space for social workers and counseling, not administration or NYPD. 

  • Longer-term Capital Projects: This crisis has revealed significant shortcomings with our school building infrastructure. We need major improvements to school building and equipment, including HVAC upgrades to improve ventilation, lighting, and water piping. Potable water must be free of lead.


Emotional health must come first.

  • Hire More Essential Staff: Nurses, social workers, grief counselors, school psychiatrists, and all other student-facing staff.

  • Hire More Staff, Period: Schools faced budget cuts before COVID-19 and our students paid the price. Going forward, we need far more staff to educate and protect our students, and we need the same staffing standard in every school. With over 19,000 fatalities statewide, an imminent risk of outbreak in every community, no school can justify layoffs or other reductions in the healthcare workforce. More healing centered staff is required to respond to the many traumas experienced before and after the pandemic.

  • Healing-Centered, Culturally Responsive, Anti-Racist, and Non-Criminalizing Approaches: Training for all staff, including community circles and restorative justice.


The right to choose, the option to refuse.

  • Protections for  parents/guardians’ choices and needs Fear of going outside is real. Parents do not want to put their kids at risk. It’s going to be hard to go back for kids. It’s going to be hard to re-adjust. Trust has been lost in the DOE’s ability to hold people’s best interest at heart. School staff and parents deserve the right to return on their own terms.


Health Justice Agenda for NYC Schools

Guiding Principles Slide Presentation Sign On