NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Students have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, both academically and mentally.

On Wednesday, the teachers union in New York City made a multi-billion dollar request of the city and state to help public school students recover and thrive again, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.

“I have students that are really struggling and their teachers have no idea because they are getting straight A’s,” social worker Shoshana Brown said.

Brown has a heavy caseload of 35 students at a Manhattan public high school.

“Who over the last year that have exhibited signs of depression, signs of suicide ideation, signs of injurious behavior, substance abuse,” Brown said.

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The pandemic has had a damaging impact on countless students.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

With an estimated $5 billion in new federal education funding coming to the city, the United Federation of Teachers is calling on the city and state to earmark more than $1 billion to help students recover from the psychological effects and learning losses.

“We know we have to start engaging our students in ways that they have not been engaged in the last, over a year now,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.

The UFT laid out a five-point plan, which includes:

  1. Forming mental health and academic intervention teams for each of the 1,800 city public schools, including hiring 10,000 new counselors and social workers.
  2. Creating smaller class sizes in the city’s neediest schools.
  3. Extended summer learning programs.
  4. Targeted high school programming, including college and career prep.
  5. Teacher training to identify and address personal and students’ stress.

“Whatever we were doing beforehand, wasn’t working. We were just figuring it out and plugging holes. Well guess what? The ship is sinking and now it’s our job to pick that ship back up and not plug the holes; we need to fix the whole shebang,” teacher Pedro Dones said.

“I’m really grateful that this push is coming or hopeful that this push is coming,” Brown added.

The union made its pitch to Mayor Bill de Blasio about a week ago cautiously optimistic the city will use the funding as an opportunity to make the education system bigger and better than before.

The UFT said it is already looking at possible hires for the school intervention teams, and may arrange a program to recruit SUNY and CUNY graduates.

Hazel Sanchez