Some 51,000 New York City public school students will be heading back to class on April 26 in what will be, by one education reporter’s count, the eighth and in all likelihood final “first day of school” in this topsy-turvy pandemic academic year.
The number represents the students who had been taking classes from home, but opted to switch to in-person schooling during a sign-up window the city opened up recently. Elementary, middle, and high school students will all be able to go back on the same day — good news for the older kids, since the city previously said there was no guarantee of when middle and high schools would accept them.
But the large majority of students — 650,000 out of about a million in the system — will continue to take classes completely online through the rest of the school year.
Schools will be getting a bit cozier too after the city and state announced plans to adopt a new 3-foot social distancing standard suggested by the CDC, which halved its old guidance. With that, Mayor Bill de Blasio said many schools will be able to let students attend five days a week, rather than coming in only part-time under the pandemic-induced hybrid learning system. That followed new rules issued last week raising the threshold for how many coronavirus cases would trigger a school closure. (It wasn’t enough to satisfy parents who filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to force the city to open schools five days a week for all.)
At the college level, the state will be sending Covid-19 vaccines directly to colleges and universities to get more of their students vaccinated on campus (maybe not quite as cool a place to get vaxxed as the Broadway site Lin-Manuel Miranda launched with the mayor on Monday, but take what you can get). And in-person graduations are making a comeback too: they’ll be allowed to resume on May 1 at reduced capacity, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.
WHERE’S ANDREW? No public schedule available by press time.
WHERE’S BILL? Appearing on Hot 97 and holding a media availability.
ABOVE THE FOLD — AND WTF: “ONE WOMAN carried a ruler at FBI headquarters so she could smack James Hendricks’ hands when he reached for her legs and breasts. Another went home shaken after he tugged on her ear and kissed her cheek during a closed-door meeting. And when Hendricks went on to lead the FBI’s field office in Albany, New York, in 2018, colleagues described him as a ‘skilled predator’ who leered at women in the workplace, touched them inappropriately and asked one to have sex in a conference room, according to a newly released federal report obtained by The Associated Press. Hendricks quietly retired last year as a special agent in charge after the Office of Inspector General — the Justice Department’s internal watchdog — concluded he sexually harassed eight female subordinates in one of the FBI’s most egregious known cases of sexual misconduct.” The Associated Press’ Jim Mustian
MAYORAL CANDIDATE Dianne Morales is often written off as unelectable, but members of the Working Families Party rated her a close second to City Comptroller Scott Stringer in a member-driven survey obtained by POLITICO. Stringer scored the best of six candidates recently screened by the left-leaning third party, earning a cumulative ranking of 4.25 on a five-point scale. Morales — former CEO of an arm of affordable housing developer Phipps — came in a close second at 4.21. And a third candidate vying for the party’s endorsement, former City Hall attorney Maya Wiley, received a rating of 3.85. But Morales beat Stringer and Wiley on several metrics the party considered ahead of its endorsement, which is scheduled for this week. Morales received a score of 4.45 for overall interview performance, followed by Stringer at 4.26 and Wiley at 4.16, according to the internal documents. POLITICO’s Sally Goldenberg
ANDREW YANG’S opponents on the left have pledged to start dragging down the popular frontrunner. This week, they launched a potent new line of attack: Yang wants to crack down on street vendors…City Comptroller Scott Stringer, whose mayoral campaign so far has been lagging in the polls, headed to Queens Monday with leading Latina supporters to denounce Yang’s support for more enforcement. “He wants to start a crackdown on vendors and send enforcement after the immigrant communities that powered us through the pandemic,” Stringer, a career politician running as a progressive, said at Corona Plaza, a popular spot in Queens for Latin American food vendors…Yang said Monday he regretted the tweet and his intent was not to antagonize street vendors. “I love street vendors as many New Yorkers do. And I’m supportive of the measures to try and increase the number of licenses,” he said. POLITICO’s Erin Durkin and Jonathan Custodio
NON-PROFIT GROUPS are accusing Mayor Bill de Blasio of a slew of broken promises during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Human Services Council, which represents groups that run homeless shelters, child care, youth programs, food pantries and other social service facilities, is releasing a scorecard detailing commitments where they say the city has fallen short of de Blasio’s public pledges. “Now, a year into this crisis, it is clear there is a damaging established pattern of commitments being made by Mayor de Blasio only to be walked back or outright ignored, leaving nonprofits providing essential services to pick up the pieces,” said Human Services Council executive director Michelle Jackson. POLITICO’s Erin Durkin
“STAFF AT New York jails and prisons are taking the COVID-19 vaccines at less than half the rate of other congregate settings and the general population, according to city and state data provided to Gothamist/WNYC. Health experts say the pattern is concerning given how the coronavirus has torn through correctional facilities since the pandemic emerged last year. Three months after becoming eligible for vaccines, just 19%—around 2,000 out of more than 10,138 the city’s Department of Correction staffers—have received at least one vaccine dose. Contrast that against 55% and 64% of staff at the city’s nursing home and adult care facilities, who’ve been eligible for nearly the same amount of time.” Gothamist’s Mirela Iverac
“MAYORAL HOPEFUL Kathryn Garcia took a personal tone Monday as she touted her new plan to guarantee a permanent home for every kid in the city’s foster-care system. She fondly recounted her experience growing up as one of three adopted children in her family while arguing that the next mayor must attack racism and improve conditions for foster kids. ‘When I think about my adoption in my family, one thing is clear: Everybody needs a forever family to support them,’ Garcia said at a news conference outside Family Court in Brooklyn. ‘Family is forever, and we need more families like mine.’ Her plan starts with what she called ‘rooting out systemic racism’ in the foster-care system.” New York Daily News’ Shant Shahrigian
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — District Attorney Sherry Boston of Dekalb County, Ga., is endorsing Lucy Lang for Manhattan district attorney, the latest in the string of sitting DAs from around the country to back her campaign. Last week, Lang, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, was backed by Baltimore DA Marilyn Mosby, and she has the support of more than a dozen prosecutors. “Our campaign is endorsed by those most impacted by the justice system, and by those who are leading the charge to reform it,” Lang said.
“GOV. ANDREW M. CUOMO’S lucrative book deal is not the only instance where the governor’s office mixed private activities and government staff. The Times Union obtained emails showing that in 2019, Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, did work related to campaign polling in the early morning and stretching into the afternoon of a Tuesday. She also instructed lower-level staff to perform a task related to the poll. On August 13, 2019, DeRosa spent time suggesting edits to a poll being conducted by the firm Global Strategy Group. While Cuomo’s campaign is a client of that polling firm, the poll in this instance was being conducted on behalf of Jobs of New York, a so-called ‘super PAC’ funded by billionaire New York City landlords. Still, DeRosa — and Cuomo himself — were allowed to review and edit the poll being conducted by Jobs for New York.” Times Union’s Chris Bragg
“A LEGISLATIVE aide in New York’s state capital grabbed the thigh of a lobbyist so hard at a fund-raiser that he left finger-shaped bruises on her skin. A top official at a state agency projected a picture of a colleague in a bikini for all to see in a meeting she was attending. Another lobbyist described a legislator touching her thighs and feeling her chest in his State Assembly office. And a state senator said a male colleague told her she looked ‘like a Bond girl’ as they sat near each other in the chamber…If encounters like these are unacceptable and potentially career-ending, especially in the #MeToo era, they are also a defining partof the culture of government in Albany, N.Y., and so endemic that they have continued even after sex scandals took down a governor (Eliot Spitzer) and several members of the State Assembly.” The New York Times’ Sydney Ember, J. David Goodman and Luis Ferré-Sadurní
“FOR MOST of his long political career, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo railed against the dangers of having a nuclear power plant operating just 25 miles away from New York City, saying its proximity to such a densely populated metropolis defied ‘basic sanity.’ But now, the plant is preparing to shut down, and New York is grappling with the adverse impact the closing will have on another of Mr. Cuomo’s ambitious goals: sharply reducing the state’s reliance on fossil fuels. So far, most of the electricity produced by the nuclear plant, known as Indian Point, has been replaced by power generated by plants that burn natural gas and emit more pollution. And that trade-off will become more pronounced once Indian Point’s last reactor shuts down on April 30.” The New York Times’ Patrick McGeehan
CP-S DEEP DIVE: “As majority leader of the New York State Assembly, Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes long ago joined the Albany hierarchy that admits few to its select ranks. The Buffalo Democrat has paid her dues since her election in 2002: committee chairwoman, head of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, co-chairwoman of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s re-election in 2014. And as majority leader, she ranks only behind Speaker Carl E. Heastie in the lower house. But as champion of the just-passed landmark bill that legalizes adult marijuana use, Peoples-Stokes last week may have made her most important impression yet — not only among Albany insiders, but on the way New Yorkers lead their lives. Smoking cannabis will move from behind closed doors into a mostly accepting society, and just about everyone associated with the effort credits Peoples-Stokes with making it happen.
“‘You needed a strong representative who has relationships and also a person of color, and that’s why it had to be Crystal,’ said Sen. Diane J. Savino, a Staten Island Democrat long active in the legalization effort. ‘And then you had to have someone who would take the time to dig down and learn the industry, learn the challenges and learn the politics.’ Buffalo News Robert J. McCarthy
#UpstateAmerica: Even more than most NFL crowds, ‘Buffalo Bills fans love their game-day beer and weed, study finds.’
“NEW YORK is suffering from a ‘systemic lack of investment’ in public transit, roads, bridges and a range of other infrastructure systems, causing excessive commute times and disparities in everything from housing and child care to internet access and drinking water, the Biden administration said Monday. The administration drew the dire assessment about New York in a fact sheet breaking down the need for overhauling infrastructure nationwide as President Biden pushes Congress to pass his $2.3 trillion ‘American Jobs Plan.’ The state of infrastructure is equally troublesome in nearly every part of the country, but New York stands out in the need for overhauling public transportation, according to the fact sheet. Because of a lack of resources, 11% of trains, buses and other public vehicles operating in New York are ‘past useful life,’ the White House said.” Daily News’ Chris Sommerfeldt
“NEW YORKERS who lost loved ones to COVID-19 can finally get the federal government to reimburse them for costs related to funeral and burial arrangements, a couple of Democratic lawmakers announced Monday after months of advocacy. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y), who began a joint push for establishing a funeral cost reimbursement program nearly a year ago, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has now officially launched a hotline that eligible New Yorkers can call to submit claims.” New York Daily News’ Chris Sommerfeldt
— Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney took his time disclosing that he sold off shares of eight stocks totaling more than $11,000 that he inherited after his mother’s death.
— Most upstate CEOs say there are plenty of jobs, but just not enough workers to fill them.
— There are probably cougars in the Finger Lakes region.
— After nearly two weeks MIA, the state’s road test scheduler is up and running.
— The president of Regis High School was fired over sexual misconduct.
— The Uniformed Firefighters Officers Association is endorsing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for mayor.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: NBC’s Justice Gilpin-Green … Bloomberg’s Ayanna Alexander … Mercury’s John Gallagher … Edelman’s Sujata Mitra and Kate Meissner … CNN’s Nathaniel Meyersohn … SKDKnickerbocker’s Mia Motley … Kevin Warsh
MEDIAWATCH — Joel Siegel, managing editor at NY1, will become managing editor for Spectrum News DC. … Bernard Gugar has been named general counsel and EVP of corporate development at Fox News Media. He most recently was U.S. head of industries for Google Cloud’s deal pursuit organization.
“AFTER SITTING unused for over a year and a half — and costing the city over $500,000 in upkeep — Staten Island’s minor league ballpark is homing in on a new team in time for the 2022 season. The city’s Economic Development Corporation is in discussions with the Atlantic League — a quirky eight-team league that signs former pros, but isn’t affiliated with Major League Baseball — to take over the lease from the defunct Staten Island Yankees at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, THE CITY has learned. Staten Island Borough President James told THE CITY on Friday that he expected an agreement in place for a specific team to be announced soon.” The City’s Clifford Michel
“LIVE MUSIC has returned to New York City, though more with a whisper than a roar. On April 2, a few performance venues across New York City sprung back to life after the Covid-19 pandemic had shut them down for more than a year. But many venues, burdened by capacity limitations, ongoing financial pain and the high cost of reopening, remained closed. The state allowed small and medium indoor arts venues to reopen starting April 2 only at one-third capacity, or a maximum of 100 people indoors, which some venue managers say isn’t enough to break even. ‘It’s pretty simple for us: It’s not financially viable,’ said Kae Burke, a co-founder of nightclub and performance space House of Yes in Brooklyn, which hosts everything from live music to circus performances and dance parties. The space generally saw about 800 people filtering through on a given weekend night before the pandemic.” Wall Street Journal’s Laura Cooper
“SEVEN YEARS after the city housing authority signed off on a court-monitored agreement to clean up its toxic mold problem, a fatal flaw in the deal has triggered the judge in charge to order NYCHA and lawyers representing public housing tenants back to the drawing board. Manhattan Federal Judge William Pauley cited what he called a “latent defect” in the original agreement that removes his oversight from public housing apartments transferred to private management under a program known as Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD). In a 22-page order issued Monday, Pauley found that the language in the 2013 deal that he signed off on ‘gives rise to an inescapable problem: a portion of the class this court certified is no longer covered by the consent decree. This is an urgent issue the parties must address.’ He gave both sides a month to figure out how to get all tenants back into the case — and if they can’t do that, they’ll have to fight it out in court.” The City’s Greg B. Smith