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mayor de blasio

New York City schools will not reopen fully in September

July 8, 2020
The mayor says in-person classes in the nation's largest school system will be limited to one to three days a week.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that public schools will not fully reopen in September, saying that classroom attendance would instead be limited to only one to three days a week in an effort to continue to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

The New York Times reports that the decision to opt for only a partial reopening, which is most likely the only way to accommodate students in school buildings while maintaining social distancing, may hinder hundreds of thousands of parents from returning to their pre-pandemic work lives.

Under the mayor’s plan, there will probably be no more than a dozen people in a classroom at a time, including teachers and aides, a stark change from typical class size in New York City schools, which can hover around 30 children.

Educators widely consider online learning to be a poor substitute for the classroom, especially for younger children and those with special needs. The shift has also created enormous challenges for parents who have struggled helping their children learn even as they have had to maintain jobs from home or, if they are essential workers, had to scramble for child care.

Under de Blasio’s plan, school principals will spend July determining which of three staggered schedule options to adopt. That decision will depend on how many students and staff can fit into school buildings while social distancing, and on how many families want their children to return to school in the first place.

School leaders will let parents know in August which days children can report to school, and which days they will learn remotely.

Campuses that can accommodate at least half of the student body with distancing guidelines will be able to educate children in person two or three days every week; schools that can fit only about a third of students will have children attend one or two days a week.

School is scheduled to begin in early September, but the options announced by de Blasio could still change significantly.

Restarting school even a few days a week presents myriad logistical hurdles.

Many of the city’s school buildings are more than a century old, with poor air ventilation and cramped classrooms and hallways. Budget cuts have left many schools with less money to hire teachers and staff — and the city estimates that about one in five current teachers will receive medical exemptions to work remotely.

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