About one million children in New York City will return to the classroom on Monday. Most of them are the first since the closure of the largest school system in the United States in March 2020.
The city reopened school for part-time study last fall, but the majority of students chose to continue studying in remote areas. However, the classroom will fill up for the first time in a year and a half, as there are currently no remote options available to almost all parents.
For months, Mayor Bill de Blasio predicted that the first day of school would be a victorious coder in a long recovery from the New York City pandemic.
“This will be Game Changer Day, the day I remember when I turned the corner of Covid,” the mayor said at a press conference last week.
However, the widespread use of the highly contagious Delta variant has complicated the city’s promotion of a complete school reopening, and many families and educators are worried about their plans for the coming months.
In May, De Blasio announced that the city would not provide remote guidance to most students as vaccine deployments became more active and the number of virus cases declined rapidly. (Thousands of children who consider the city medically vulnerable can still learn from home.) His announcement caused little political resistance in the spring, but his administration caused parents Faced with increasing pressure from politicians to reconsider.
Last year, there were about 600,000 households, mostly blacks and Latino Americans, whose children continued to learn from home. Parents are much more willing to reopen school this year, but some want to wait at least for young children to be vaccinated. Currently, only children over the age of 12 are eligible, and children under the age of 12 may not be eligible until the second half of the year at the earliest.
Although the mayor has taken safety measures, he is determined to proceed normally in the school year. However, a serious infection in schools this fall could cause a temporary shutdown of many school buildings and even the entire system.
Municipal schools had significantly lower levels of virus infection in buildings last year, but most schools had significantly reduced capacity. Even with a transmission rate of 0.03% at the end of last year, quarantine was still routine.
This year, at least some confusion is inevitable.
De Blasio hopes that all children will actually return to school this week as some parents have informed the principal that they want to wait days or weeks to see how the reopening will take place. I admitted that I didn’t.
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A similar situation has already occurred in Dallas, with some parents leaving their children home to start school. Since then, more students there have begun to return to the classroom.
But school prime minister Meisha Porter said last week that the Children’s Services Department could be involved if the family refused to send the child back a few weeks later.
The city’s newly announced quarantine policy will almost certainly lead to frequent short-term classroom closures.
In elementary schools where children are still too young to be vaccinated, one positive case in the classroom encourages a switch to 10 days of quarantine and distance learning throughout the classroom.
In middle school and high school, only unvaccinated students need to be quarantined if exposed to the virus. This means that unvaccinated students may have a significantly different grade than their vaccinated classmates. More than 60% of New York City children vaccinated have at least one vaccination, but the city does not know how many of those children attend public school.
The city’s quarantine protocol is more conservative than recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but New York school inspection plans are more conservative than the CDC requires, which surprises some parents and public health professionals. increase.
A random sample of 10% of unvaccinated students will be tested at each school every other week. By the end of last year, the city had tested 20 percent of people in every school building every week. According to experts, the city’s current inspection plans are almost certainly too small to prevent many outbreaks before they occur.
New York is even more advanced than most districts in the country by enforcing full vaccination obligations for all educators, along with all adults working in school buildings. The mayor said he believes this mission will help keep schools as safe this year as it did last year, as well as improve immunization rates for qualified students.