Borough President Vito Fossella, local elected officials call on DOE Chancellor and DOHMH Commissioner to reconsider latest COVID-19 guidance for schools
Borough President Vito J. Fossella and fellow elected officials have sent a letter to Department of Education Chancellor David Banks and Department of Mental Health & Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan requesting that they reconsider the COVID-19 guidance for parents and students as the new school year begins next week. Currently, unvaccinated parents are prohibited from coming into a DOE school building and unvaccinated students are not allowed to play in after-school sports programs.
In the letter, they cite how important parent involvement is needed, especially after almost two years of interrupted school sessions due to the pandemic. It states:
“While well-intentioned and noble, some of the decisions in the past have negatively affected many children. Evidence suggests that cases of mental illness in school-aged children are on the rise and low-test scores are sadly becoming the norm. We urge you to reconsider and reverse the policies regarding unvaccinated parents and children.
Unvaccinated parents have not been in their child’s school for over two years and have missed out on critical moments including meetings, events, award ceremonies, and graduations. NYC DOE student enrollment is down, and parents are showing their opposition to these overreaching policies by removing their children from DOE schools. Furthermore, unvaccinated children who have been welcomed back to school are prohibited from participating in many after school sport programs, which is proven to be instrumental for a well-rounded education.”
They also refer to when New York City lifted restrictions for other activities and locations where large gatherings can take place.
“Months ago, New York City rightly relaxed all of its in-person restrictions for the unvaccinated to attend indoor sporting events, concerts, all entertainment venues, or to simply enjoy indoor dining or going to the gym. As the DOE COVID-19 guidance stands now, unvaccinated parents are not allowed into their child’s NYC DOE school building for back-to-school events, socials, PTA meetings, parent-teacher conferences, fundraising, parent workshops, or any in-school events with their child.”
The letter was signed by Congressmember Nicole Malliotakis; Senator Andrew Lanza; Councilmembers David Carr and Joseph Borelli; Assemblymembers Michael Reilly and Michael Tannousis.
Borough President Vito J. Fossella is pleased to announce his appointment of Aaron Bogad as the Staten Island representative to the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP).
The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) consists of 15 appointed members and the Chancellor. Each borough president appoints one member, CEC Presidents elect one member, and the mayor appoints the remaining nine members. The Chancellor serves as an ex-officio non-voting member.
Aaron Bogad is the immediate past president of The Staten Island Federation of PTAs and has held that position for the last 5 years. Mr. Bogad has been a member of the Community Education Council 31 since 2015, three of those years as President of the CEC.
Previous positions include President of the District 31 High School President's Council, and a member of the District Leadership Team where he represented families on the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Committee. For the past 13 years, Mr. Bogad has held many positions, including PTA President and PTA Treasurer, and has been a part of many working groups within the district and DOE Central. He also has been involved locally, previously serving as a board member for 5 years at the Arden Heights Jewish Center. For the past 12 years, Mr. Bogad has coached youth softball where he remains a USA Softball Certified Coach in his daughter’s travel softball organization.
Mr. Bogand and his wife have three daughters, one of them who attends a New York City public high school.
“We are pleased that Aaron has accepted this appointment, and are confident he will work well with us to make the best decisions for our school community,” said Borough President Fossella. “Our priorities for Staten Island include robust academic achievement, enhanced school safety, expanded sports programs, innovative education, and public/private partnerships to help our students. Additionally, I thank Jaclyn Tacoronte for her service on the PEP.”
“After suffering career ending injuries on September 11, 2001, while working as a NYC EMS Emergency Medical Technician that responded to the World Trade Center, I decided that I needed to do whatever I could physically and emotionally to make things better for my daughters as well as the children in our district,” said Mr. Bogad. “I thank Borough President Fossella for the opportunity to continue my work supporting our schools. It has been and remains to be a huge honor and a privilege to serve our community.”
We gathered under solemn skies at the Postcards Memorial on Sunday to remember those lost in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the First Responders who have died in the years since due to their work at Ground Zero.
“I am honored to continue this tribute of remembrance and reflection,” said Borough President Vito Fossella.
Bishop John O’Hara, the Episcopal Vicar of Staten Island and southern Manhattan, delivered the invocation, and the Rev. Dr. Victor Brown, the Pastor of Mount Sinai United Christian Church, delivered the benediction. Gov. Kathy Hochul offered remarks. There were musical selections throughout the evening and an FDNY Marine Division boat sprayed water in the harbor. Bells tolled during the 9/11 Tribute Readings and the First Responders Tribute Readings. A moment of silence was held.
“There’s an old saying ‘make a memory every day’ -- tragically one thing 9/11 did was to prevent and destroy so many possible memories for so many families from being made,” said Borough President Fossella. “In fact, it’s been 7,671 days since that fateful day. If you take the number of those who perished and add up all those days, you get close to 2 million. That’s 2 million memories that didn’t occur -- memories like that of a newborn child, a first birthday, a first day of school, a graduation day, a first job, a walk down the aisle or something as simple and precious as a walk in the park.”
As the ceremony concluded, roses were placed between the silhouettes of the Postcards Memorial and on the rain-slicked panels of the First Responders Memorial.