Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photogr
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday that some New York City public schools would reopen for in-person classes starting on December 7. After closing public schools due to the coronavirus pandemic earlier in November, most lower-grade schools will transition from remote learning to attending full-time in person.
Students in Grades 3K through Grade 5 and all grade levels in District 75 will return to schools while grades 6 through 12 will continue learning remotely until further notice. Disabled students will be able to start on December 10. Around 330,000 students are eligible for in-person classes and the plan is to start the transition with students attending five-days a week.
“When the health situation improves — and particularly when we start to see some vaccine distribution on a broader scale and we think we’re in a much better environment — then we’ll do an opt-in because then we’ll be in a position to do an entirely different approach to our schools,” De Blasio said on Monday. “But, for now, this will be the universe of folks who will be in in-person learning.”
Entering this new stage, De Blasio revealed the plans for the city and how parents would be offered alternative options if they decide to opt-out of physical classes. A two-week window was provided to families to decide if they wanted to continue with virtual learning or sent their children to in-person classes. Every week, students will be randomly tested once their parents agree to sign a consent form.
After being met with a lot of criticism from the previous shut down of schools, De Blasio believes that safely opening up schools “the right direction and the right decision.” Although the school closure in November was due to the city reaching a 3% positive testing rate, De Blasio states that schools will no longer be required to close when it gets to that percentage.
“Getting our kids back in school buildings is one of the single most important things we can do for their wellbeing, and it’s so important that we do it right,” Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza said in a statement. “The unparalleled value of in-person learning for students has been evident in the first few months of school, and we will do everything we can to keep our schools safe and keep them open for the duration of this pandemic.”