NEW YORK — As New York City public school students headed back into classrooms Monday for the new year, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter told PIX11 there may be some classrooms where it’s not possible to space students 3 feet apart, despite federal health guidance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its social distancing guidelines for schools in March, saying students could now sit 3 feet apart in classrooms, where possible, instead of the 6-foot standard throughout the peak of the pandemic.
This update didn’t have much of an effect on NYC schools at the time, as most students were either still learning remotely or in a hybrid model and only in school part time.
However, with no remote or hybrid option offered for the new school year, and over a million students expected to return for in-person learning, the suggested spacing became a concern for parents and teachers.
The DOE has been working to ensure adequate space between kids wherever possible, but Porter on Monday conceded there could be instances in some classrooms where desks are not 3 feet apart.
“There may be potentially classrooms where we can’t get to 3 feet,” the chancellor said. “However, we have the additional safety protocols: Masking, ventilation, two air purifiers in every classroom — but our goal is to get to 3 feet everywhere possible.”
Additional protocols include students and staff wearing masks whenever in school, as well as mandated vaccinations for most teachers and staff, and random bi-weekly COVID testing for students.
During lunch, some students will eat in cafeterias while others eat in classrooms or outside, the city has said.
Not all parents are satisfied with these 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.