BROOKLYN, NY – On Tuesday, during a Stated Meeting, Council Member Farah N. Louis (D-BROOKLYN) introduced two bills intended to strengthen New York City’s response to the continued threat of COVID-19. 

“Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic going forward must be holistic and equitable. We cannot afford to repeat any of the missteps that occurred in the Spring of 2020 and must begin to think of ways to support our communities proactively, beyond the obvious necessities. We must be prepared to confront the long-term effects of COVID-19 and rise to meet these challenges.These bills are intended to further inform the City’s plan of action to address the mental health effects of the pandemic and to request more support for parents of students engaging in distance education, respectively. In this case, I am hoping to address the unseen needs: constituents who might be struggling with mental illness and feelings of isolation, and parents who must balance work, childcare, and maintaining healthy learning environments as homes become schools,” said Council Member Farah N. Louis.

The first bill, Intro 2005, is a Local Law that would require the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to report on the mental health of New Yorkers during the COVID-19 public health crises. The data gathered would provide the City with insightful information to assess how this pandemic has affected constituents and adapt existing services to meet immediate needs.

Widespread loss of life, social isolation due to stay-at-home orders, economic anxiety, essential worker burnout, and uncertainty surrounding the virus itself have all caused a marked increase in mental health issues countrywide. COVID-19 has shown us that none of us are immune to the debilitating effects of mental illness. Even the most “well-adjusted” person can feel isolated, hopeless, and alone. Council Member Louis, a former mental health professional and healthcare administrator, introduced Intro 2005 in honor of a dear friend, Marquis Andino who took his own life because his mental health needs were not met. . Unfortunately, this tragic situation is not unique. Intro 2005 would help us more readily identify any shifts in the mental health needs of New Yorkers, close any gaps or lapse in services.

Council Member Louis, a former mental health professional and healthcare administrator, introduced Intro 2005 in honor of a dear friend, Marquis Andino who took his own life because his mental health needs were not met. . Unfortunately, this tragic situation is not unique. Intro 2005 would help us more readily identify any shifts in the mental health needs of New Yorkers, close any gaps or lapse in services.

The second bill, Resolution 1374, calls upon the New York City Department of Education to establish a remote learning training program for parents.

Schools were forced to develop distance learning programs under emergency circumstances and mistakes were made. At the height of the pandemic, it took weeks for families in some communities, including District 45, to receive iPads and internet access to resume their academic studies at home. Unfortunately, parents were not provided with any standardized training to help guide their children through this process. 

These issues were particularly compounded for parents who were not technologically literate, speak English as a second language, may have disabilities or must support a child(ren) with disabilities. 

With the 2020-2021 school year fast-approaching, it is likely that our educators will have to provide instruction through a combination of in-person and remote learning. Distance education could become the new normal.

Resolution 1374 will help schools avoid the shortfalls that occurred during the latter end of the 2019-2020 academic year. It will ensure parents and students are equipped with all of the essential training and information to receive a quality and globally competitive education. 

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