NYC Will Not Fully Reopen Schools In The Fall

by Cassandra Stone
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Classroom attendance will be limited to only one to three days a week in NYC for the upcoming school year

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that as far as the upcoming school year goes, public schools in New York City won’t be fully reopening in September. In-person classroom attendance will be limited to only one to three days a week to help stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Aside from Florida, many schools nationwide haven’t announced firm plans for the fall. With NYC schools being the largest public school system in the U.S. (approximately 1,800 schools are in the system), they very well could be pioneering the path of what a full school year looks like during a pandemic.

Per the New York Times, the staggered school schedule is likely designed to accommodate social distancing between students while inside the building. Unfortunately, this type of schedule will heavily impact parents’ work schedules and limited childcare options.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced the “blended model” plan, which consists of a combination of in-school and remote learning, according to the New York Post.

“For the vast majority of kids and the vast majority of schools, you will be going to school to either two days a week or three days a week, depending on the week,” de Blasio said during a press briefing about the matter. During the days the students are not physically in school, they’ll be remote learning. Families in NYC public schools also have the option to switch to full-time remote learning if they’re more comfortable with that.

“For the 2020-2021 school year, it will look different,” Carranza said. “Students will return in September in a blended learning model or an online learning model, if they choose.”

Though this option is currently how many universities and colleges around the country are planning to operate for 2020-2021, it still presents challenges. In New York schools, for example, many of the buildings are over a century old and have poor air circulation systems and cramped quarters. Teachers union leaders have expressed concern over the amount of available personal protective gear and school nurses in order to reopen safely, but city schools say they’ll be deep-cleaning each night and providing hand sanitizer and disinfectant in all classrooms and shared spaces. Budget cuts across the country could present a problem in supply and demand in terms of disinfectant and PPE, however.

The staggered schedule model means that one group of students could attend school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the second group attending Wednesdays and Fridays. Mondays can be alternated between the two groups, de Blasio explained.

More crowded schools will break those groups into three rather than two, with students attending in-person on fewer days. While the in-person instruction likely won’t be consistent in terms of days, the goal is for NYC students to have five days of in-person learning every three weeks.

The decision to model the upcoming school year this way was based on a survey sent to parents from the Department of Education. The results showed 53 percent of parents felt “very or mostly comfortable” with sending their kid back to school amid the coronavirus pandemic. Twenty-four percent were “a little comfortable” and 22 percent were “not at all comfortable.”

Only half of parents and students grades 6-12 were “very or mostly comfortable” wearing face masks every day in school next year.