NYC schools look to create safe environment as students return to classroom

Local News

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — Weeks until the start of school, questions remain of what the classroom will look like for New York City schools, as 1 million children are expected to return to the classroom.

Pediatric infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist Dr. Jen Lighter has been working on the frontlines of battling COVID-19 at NYU Langone Health.

She’s now recommending for all eligible children to be vaccinated and head back to classrooms five days a week. She says the science is clear: the states with the highest rates of COVID-19 have the lowest rates of vaccination.

Dr. Lighter says schools are safe spaces because of mitigation strategies, using NYC public schools as a prime example. She expects everyone in a school building to continue wearing a mask, just as they are now.

In the city’s Summer Rising program, about 153 classrooms out of 12,000 operating for summer school are closed due to quarantine rules.

Parents want to know from Mayor Bill de Blasio if similar rules will apply this fall.

“The answer for now, is the approach that worked previously was successful,” said de Blasio on WNYC Friday. “We see very few classrooms closing now. I think we’re in the right place, but I think it’s fair to ask again and have a conversation again.”

In line with the CDC, Lighter believes the overall well being of children emotionally, mentally and academically is improved greatly by in-person school five days a week.

She has a message for the mayor.

“The two case rule needs to go away and the quarantine days also need to likely get adjusted as well,” she said.

Lighter hopes the quarantine time drops to five days. The mayor says the situation will evolve as vaccinations of 12-to-17 year olds increase over the next eight weeks.

Only 11% of eligible NYC students are full vaccinated but the number increases by the day.

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