NEW YORK CITY — For the first time in nearly two years, the majority of New York City’s 1.1 million public school students return to the classroom for fully in-person learning Monday.
Only about 500 children who have serious medical conditions will start the new school year with remote learning, according to Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter.
Things will look much different compared to last year when many parents opted to keep their kids home with remote learning, while others took advantage of a hybrid model, combining remote and in-person learning. In-person learning last school year began with a staggered approach by grade.
Chancellor Porter addressed some questions and concerns Monday morning on the PIX11 Morning News:
The city has been working for months to develop their Safe Schools initiative to keep students and staff safe.
The protocols include 3 feet of social distancing where possible, upgraded ventilation, masks for everyone in a school building, a vaccine mandate for teachers, random bi-weekly COVID testing and a remote quarantine option if three or more students in one classroom test positive for COVID.
However, not all parents are satisfied with the safety measures. A group of parents rallied outside City Hall on Sunday, calling for a remote option like families had the previous academic year.
Remote learning will be offered to public school students only under very specific circumstances, including if a classroom shuts down, Porter said.
“We learned a lot last year and so we still have the ability to shift to remote if we need to- a classroom or a school building,” the chancellor told Dan Mannarino on PIX on Politics.
Immunocompromised students will get in-home instruction.
The city says 65% of students age 12 to 17 have been vaccinated, while over 72% of teachers have been vaccinated.
Through a city-imposed mandate, all public school teachers must get at least one shot by Sept. 27.
A fraction of the city’s 80,000 teachers who have specific medical conditions demanded a pass and were granted a last-minute reprieve to teach remotely.
The city was in arbitration with the United Federation of Teachers, which represents almost 80,000 teachers in city public schools, over issues including accommodations for teachers who say they have health issues that prevent them from being vaccinated.
The arbitrator ruled late Friday that the city must offer non-classroom assignments to teachers who aren’t vaccinated because of medical and religious exemptions.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew spoke with the PIX11 Morning News on Monday about the union’s victory: