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NYC Mayor Promises Full Return To In-Person School, No Remote Option: Parents Respond

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced on March, 24, 2021 that, come September, all public school students would be back in the classroom, five days a week, in front of live teachers. A remote learning option would no longer be available, and medical accomodations for teachers would be severely curtailed.

Here is what the parents he is supposed to represent think of that plan.


MS: I am very happy to hear about the 5-day reopening. My view is that young children need in-person instruction and socialization. However, there are, as usual, information gaps.  My main concern is the CDC rule requiring the 6-ft rule for lunch. My children go to a very overcrowded school (PS 102 in Brooklyn) and the school cannot accommodate the student body for a 5-day schedule unless the 6-ft rule while eating changes. Currently, at roughly 60% of the PS 102 student body opting for blended (this statistic was provided at the Town Hall meeting by the District 20 superintendent Pretto), many classes are still following the 2 cohort model, attending 2-3 days a week. How can they possibly accommodate 100% of the student body in September unless the rule changes? Larger schools can use this rule to say they are unable to provide 5 day instruction, and then the whole plan is off the rails. 

OL: I am elated at the fact that there will not be a remote option. The reason for that is this: In the past year, which was a disaster for many reasons, the principals were running 2 schools with the same resources. That resulted in reduced curriculum, reduced instructional hours, and worse educational outcomes for all. By not having a remote option, the teachers MUST return to the classroom, the children MUST return to the classroom, and normal school functioning may be possible without overstretching everyone’s resources.I am not sure it will happen. I do not believe it will. Right now it looks like a bait and switch tactic – something that DOE used repeatedly last year. I am on a strict budget now. At the first signs of school nonsense, I’ll move my family into a rental in the suburbs so the kids would have a normal school experience. If that happens, there us practically no chance we will come back to NYC DOE realm.This year has been a total disaster in everything – incessant school closures, lies, lies and lies again about 5 days a week schedule, missing art and other enrichment classes for entire year, no afterschool programming. At this point, whatever DOE says is not trusted at all..

CW: My daughter is going into kindergarten. I not only think that in-person is pretty much vital to kindergarten, it’s vital to society and to women. I am a single parent and I work from home. I need her to be in the building. I am vaccinated. She will be fine. I don’t know why teachers would be scared if they are vaccinated. I think they need to be heard and accommodated for, but not by putting people online who don’t want to be. Maybe with a year of leave? By December the kids might all be vaccinated.

JS: I don’t think kids should have to wear masks or socially distance anymore – enough is enough! Kids are happily playing in playgrounds together without masks and there have not been any surges in cases. With a 99.997% survival rate for those under 20 who contract Covid-19, I think it’s about time to let our children be free again!! 

EK: My thoughts are that unreasonable masks need to be canceled in the elementary schools. Nowhere in the world do young kids need to wear masks, why do we abuse our children in this manner? It has zero impact on the pandemic that is practically over. 

DL: I believe it’s a whole ecosystem. If they open (schools) aftercare needs to open too. Working parents can’t do 2/3pm.


ED: As a physician that worked during the entire pandemic, I think the fully on reopening plan is not well thought out for the children. 20% of new infections now are in kids. Currently there are about 400 new cases in NYC per day, just like last year in the spring/summer. Vaccinations for children 2–11 year-olds are not available until later in the year and not before the school opens in the fall. There is no way for children to socially distance at school at full capacity. Hundreds of thousands of middle school and elementary school unvaccinated children will be forced into crowded rooms in the fall. Wouldn’t it be better to give the parents of unvaccinated children an option of keeping them at home until the vaccine is approved for children later this year?

MK: Even now I get emails from my kids’ school reporting positive tests in the school. Without a vaccine for my kids I am very concerned with a school full of unvaccinated kids.

SC: The announcement from the chancellor earlier this week that there would be no remote option for NYC students was extremely disheartening and infuriating at the same time. While this was actually not surprising given what we experienced last year with the DOE being completely unprepared in September, I had hoped that with the new chancellor that might change. I completely understand that with the vaccine available to anyone 12 or older it’s time to get back to normal. I can’t wait for the first day I drop my daughter off at school. I am not a fan of remote learning. I also understand that most kids who get COVID-19 are fine. However, my daughter almost died from doctors assuming she was like most kids. So nothing sends chills down my spine more than hearing the words “most kids.” I fought doctors then and I’ll fight for her now. The fact that the mayor and chancellor made this announcement without providing an option for children who could not attend in person sends a signal to parents who have medically complicated children – you are not considered valued members of NYC and the largest school district in the country. We don’t deserve a “free and appropriate education.” I’m not asking for remote learning for all students. I’m not even asking for it in all schools. I’m asking the mayor and chancellor to take a close look at their full population of students and develop a plan for September until there is a vaccine that’s available to all school age children.

AI: Until a vaccine is approved for all school age children, I don’t think it’s appropriate to force in-person instruction.  Even though the vaccination rate is quite high – and will likely continue to grow – until the infection rate is 0%, we’re not out of the weeds.  My son is 7 and has asthma.  He simply cannot catch COVID and his health should not be put at risk. I’m sure there are many others with similar concerns.  

AM: I was surprised by the announcement that there will be no remote option for students. My kid was in G&T and we moved to Success Academy because I did not want to commute to school as many G&T kids do. SA had live remote instruction and all subjects including specials. I was glad to be remote this year and my kid thrived. Given the chance, I would choose remote for the fall. I would not switch back to our G&T spot at this point since remote wouldn’t be an option.

JK: I think Hizzoner spoke too soon. With camps, summer school and Summer Rising programs reopening, he should’ve waited to see how COVID #s will be affected.  I hope sincerely that all will stay good, but we do not know that. Not to give parents a choice is not appropriate. There are also teachers, who may have issues with health, who would prefer teaching remotely and they would have students who would prefer that as well. There are kids who may have social anxiety issues, for whom remote learning became a salvation. There are those who may have panic attacks simply from being in school at all. There are those who lost teachers, family members, etc…  What about them? There is a lot of talk about helping kids re-integrate into the school setting, but really, who would do that? Our Mayor’s Wife’s Mental Health program?  I don’t think so. Even with 3 feet seating apart, schools are packing up, adding 3K classes. They are just babies – they need to be held and hugged and mothered, and I do not think that NYC Public school building is a setting for those – especially with masks and 3 feet apart and limited social interaction. I do not think schools are ready to open. My kids’s school started external construction when they graduated from PreK. They will be going into 3rd grade, and scaffolding is still up, which means windows are closed. There are no ACs. How do they expect to have the kids sit there, in masks?  In the winter time, I saw our teacher teaching from school wearing a heavy jacket – is that how this will be?  Who needs this nonsense? DeBlasio is out the door, almost, and his initiatives only benefit one person…  I won’t name last names, but the first name is Bill.  No need to do things in a hurry – you gotta do things right.  Slow and steady wins the race.


AM: I haven’t heard anything about kids under 12 getting vaccinated. Until that happens, I really hope that masks will continue to be worn in schools. I have been comfortable with the current safety measures in place at my son’s elementary school. However, if the DOE decides on no masks (because they change their mind on a whim) and kids aren’t vaccinated, with no remote option what am I supposed to do if I’m not comfortable sending him back to school in a crowded classroom? 

DD: I don’t believe DeBlasio because he has lost my trust at this point, schools being open sounds great in theory but let’s just wait for the UFT to respond since it seems like they’re the real ones running the show… I would love to know if the teachers will be wearing masks…since now they aren’t required in NY State….and why do kids need to wear masks if the teachers have had the option to be vaccinated?  Kids don’t even transmit the virus. Will they require kids to be vaccinated to take their masks off?  When will kids be allowed to take their masks off?

CJ: We still are not sure if we are going to send our child to our zoned school, it is a popular zoned school on the UWS. NYC may not be ready for prime time yet, specifically with the increase in crime (shootings in broad daylight) and with many families moving out I am concerned that the ambitious families that made the public schools competitive are becoming fewer. 

IW: I will send my child back but don’t believe it will happen. My children attend a very well run and organized school that had cleaning protocols in place way before the pandemic. I’m concerned about bigger schools like the ones with six schools in one building or schools with 1700 students. Bigger schools should be allowed to have a remote option or they’ll end up with weekly COVID-19 cases and have to close.The issue is the Mayor and the fact that he’s led by his ego not what’s best for the city and definitely not what’s best for children.He hasn’t asked for parent input. Parents and their children are pawns as he and (Union President) Michael Mulgrew grease the wheels of their political machine because COVID-19 is still a real threat. If my kids attended a large school, I’d be angry with this decision and support parents who aren’t okay with this. As the DOE prepares for the fall, I need to know that my vaccinated  children will not be subject to “mandatory” COVID-19 tests in the school. I need to know that current safety protocols will continue to be in place and what the DOE will do to foster a more thorough and rigorous academic curriculum should schools have to close again.

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