NEW YORK (PIX11) — Thursday marks the first day of public school for kids across the five boroughs. And there’s been plenty of change since classes broke for the summer, with most COVID-19 protocols now dropped for the first time since 2020, and a new plan in place to protect kids from violence in schools.
Mayor Eric Adams, city schools Chancellor David Banks, and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell will be on hand at one Bronx school Thursday morning to welcome students back after the summer break.
But soon after, they’ll discuss a sobering reality: their new tactical plan to secure schools inside and out after an uptick in weapons found last year, and the tragic mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex. in May.
The NYPD spent part of the summer training and strategizing for potential similar attacks in city schools. This academic year, schools’ side doors will be locked, with only one entrance accessible during the day. Additionally, 3,100 school safety agents will be deployed across the city to start the year, with about 850 more to be added later in the year. A new push alert system will also provide parents with updates in real time during lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, or evacuations.
The updated safety plan for public school students will be detailed just one day after a 15-year-old boy was fatally shot in a park just blocks from his Brooklyn charter school.
Students’ physical and mental health will also be top of mind in other ways. Though schools will not have mask or vaccine mandates, or in-school COVID-19 testing this year, take-home diagnostic tests will be provided to students, according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. Additionally, every public school citywide will be staffed with mental health experts this academic year.