City council schools chair says NYC DOE should offer remote schooling for youngest kids

Coronavirus
New York City's "surprise" opt-in period for in-person learning could lead to virtual study halls for students due to teacher shortages, NYC Councilman Mark Treyger warned.

New York City’s “surprise” opt-in period for in-person learning could lead to virtual study halls for students due to teacher shortages, NYC Councilman Mark Treyger warned. (Credit: PIX11)

NEW YORK — New York City Councilmember Mark Treyger, who leads the council’s education committee, said in a Tweet Monday that students who are not yet of vaccination age — under the age of 12 — should have the option to learn remotely.

Treyger’s recommendation is contrary to the New York City Department of Education’s current plan for the fall, with no remote option set to be offered for public school students.

Treyger also said he feels that remote learning should be run centrally by the DOE, rather than by individaul schools.

“I support 5 days a week in person instruction for all, but we need to follow science and adjust accordingly while providing flexibility for families,” he said.

It’s a controversial subject, with some parents, educators and students insistent on getting back into classrooms full time after a year of COVID-19 protocols; others, though, feel the city is moving too quickly, and in order to proceed safely, should still offer remote learning.

“One million kids will be back in their classroom in September, all in-person, no remote,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said back in May when announcing plans for fully in-person learning in the fall. “You can’t have a full recovery without full-strength schools, everyone back sitting in those classrooms, kids learning again.”

Come Sept. 13, all students, educators and staffers are expected to return to the classroom full-time for the first time in 18 months.

While the vaccination rollout has been largely successful in lowering COVID-19 cases, the new and more-contagious delta variant has created concern among officials and experts.

The American Academy of Pediatrics believes it’s best to make schools in-person as safe as possible, so that the majority of students could be physically present for classes.

The group recommends everyone over the age of 2 wear a face mask inside schools – regardless of vaccination status.

The CDC’s K-12 guidance has only emphasized mask wearing for those who are not fully vaccinated, as well as keeping unvaccinated students at a 3 ft. distance.

The United Federation of Teachers union launched an initiative to encourage families to once again get back on board with in-person learning.

In an email to union members, the UFT offered $25 per hour to teachers willing to talk to parents face-to-face and convince them to send their children back into school buildings in the next academic year.

“We are shifting gears to encourage a return to in person learning for all students during the 2021-2022 school year,” the email states.

The program calls for a one-day training session, along with 10 “house visit shifts” that are four hours each over a six-week period. Teachers would go door-to-door for outreach to the community, talking about safety in schools. 

A spokesperson for the UFT told PIX11 the money comes from a national grant of $5 million going to big cities across America. 

De Blasio, meanwhile, reiterated that children will be wearing masks in the new academic year regardless of vaccination status, which is in accordance with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

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