Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
After spending the rest of the school year and the entire summer online due to COVID-19, New York City public schools opened their doors to students once again on October 1. Thousands of students returned to their classrooms on Thursday following Mayor Bill De Blasio’s previous two attempts to reopen schools in September.
The last phase of the three-stage plan reopened middle schools, high schools, evening schools, transfer schools, and adult education facilities. For the first time in six months, students had the opportunity to attend in-person classes in the city that used to be the global epicenter of the pandemic.
Mayor de Blasio is optimistic about New York’s progress and the current situation is being monitored closely just in case they have to shut down again.
“It takes weeks in a normal school year for all the staffing realities to sort out,” Mayor de Blasio stated. “It will take weeks here but we are up and running. When everything is said and done and everyone is in their final assignments at that point we’ll give an update on exactly how many additional staff were needed for this extraordinary situation.”
Although schools are open, some families chose to continue with remote learning over in-person classes. Around 480,000 students are spending the rest of the school year learning at home due to the current situation. While some students are thankful to be in class with their friends, parents and teachers are concerned about the spike in cases in different neighborhoods and zip codes.
Living in fear of the possible second wave, individuals are concerned about what the future might look like now that schools are open during the pandemic, and teachers are doing something about it. New York’s largest union, the United Federation of Teachers grouped to draw attention to the safety measures needed to contain the spread of the virus. Staffing issues are still a concern yet to be addressed.
Protests against the reopening occurred in Washington Square Park where students, who chose not to attend classes, demanded better quality safety precautions. This includes more nurses and updated ventilation systems in schools.
It is unclear if New York public schools will be able to survive the school without too many cases, but critics predict it is very unlikely.