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De Blasio says he and nearly 500 employees in his office to take furlough

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says about employee furloughs: "It is with pain that I say they and their families will lose a week's pay. But it's something we have to do." Credit: NY Mayor's Office

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and nearly 500 employees of his office will take five days of furlough between October and March in an effort to save $1 million from the cash-strapped municipal budget, the city said Wednesday.

"The folks who work here throughout this [coronavirus] crisis, they have not been working 35- or 40-hour weeks. They've been working 80-hour weeks, 90-hour weeks, 100-hour weeks, because they believe in this city, and they've been fighting for all of you," de Blasio said at a news conference Wednesday. "So, it is with pain that I say they and their families will lose a week's pay. But it's something we have to do."

De Blasio said there is a chance the furlough would extend to the rest of the city's 300,000 workforce and pledged to avoid a property tax increase to plug budget holes caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"That's off the table, period," he said of a property tax increase. "People in this city are hurting, in a way that is unprecedented."

DeBlasio said city schools — set to reopen Monday — recorded nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear whether the cases were staff or students.

New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said students aren't guaranteed live instruction on every day they're learning remotely — a reversal of assurances that there would be some live learning for students on days they are not in the classroom.

"Some of your education remotely will be asynchronous, and that can still be very rigorous assignments, very rigorous lessons that students complete," Carranza said, using jargon for when a student does not have live instruction online.

Carranza’s concession appears to apply only to students whose families opted for so-called blended education — meaning some days are in-person in a school building, and others remotely.

He said that "as we continue to ramp up" with more teaching personnel, "We're going to continue to add capacity to provide and meet our goal, which is synchronous instruction every single day."

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