New York City is scheduled to reopen its public high schools this Monday, welcoming some students to learning – in person – about a year after schools were closed for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The majority of high school students in the nation’s largest school district will continue remote instruction. But as many as 55,000 students in grades 9-12, who previously opted for in-person learning, are expected to return Monday, authorities said earlier this month.
That’s about 20% of students enrolled in the district’s high schools, Citizen Free Press affiliate WABC reported.
About half of the city’s high schools will be able to provide in-person learning 5 days a week to all or most of their students, New York Education Commissioner Meisha Ross Porter said at a news conference, the March 8, with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In a message to families last Friday, Porter said high schools would follow the same protective measures that have been put in place for younger students who have returned to the classroom, such as weekly random tests of students and staff, physical distancing. and use of masks.
Additionally, with spring break scheduled to begin on March 29, students and staff traveling to certain locations on the travel advisory list must be quarantined for 10 days, according to the Department of Education, or undergo a covid-19 screening test, based on state guidelines.
The mayor said that children had experienced greater emotional turmoil in the past year during the pandemic, and said at the press conference earlier this month: “Think of the children who have committed suicide.”
Think of that kid who is feeling a little desperate and lonely right now, what it will mean to them on Monday March 22nd, when they come back through the door of their high school, see their friends, see their teachers, and have hope. again,” de Blasio said.
Sports and sports practices will return in April
Sports in high schools will resume in April, city officials said, touting the positive impact they can have on the mental health of student athletes. But there will be “strict safety protocols,” said De Blasio, who tried to temper parental expectations, saying sporting events “can’t have large crowds.”
“We have to protect everyone,” he said, “so it’s about giving children the opportunity to participate.”
Younger students have already had the opportunity to return to face-to-face classes: elementary schools reopened in December, while high school students returned at the end of last month.
The push to reopen the school for younger age groups came because they have had the most difficulties with learning online and appear to have the lowest rate of coronavirus spread.
The reopening of high schools comes just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an updated guide for children in schools. That included relaxing the physical distancing guidelines, recommending that students maintain at least 1 meter of distance, instead of the two meters previously recommended.
New York City’s teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, told its members in an email on Friday that it was consulting medical experts on the guidelines. The group said the physical distancing rules “would be extremely difficult to implement” in New York City public schools.
Following the release of the updated CDC guidelines, Mayor De Blasio announced on Friday that the city was preparing to allow more students to opt for in-person learning, with an initial focus on pre-kindergarten and elementary school students. More details are expected on Monday.
De Blasio said Friday that he had been told that more than 40,000 educators had been vaccinated, but that he believed the number was much higher.
The mayor has pledged to fully reopen all of the city’s schools in the fall.
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