Faced with a return to in-person learning in the fall – and with no option for remote schooling – New York parents are hopeful – but also anxious about what the city will do to safeguard the health of their children.
With vaccinations increasing and cases decreasing, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the September return on Monday – one he said is possible with health measures in place.
“It’s just amazing the forward motion right now, the recovery that’s happening in New York City,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “But you can’t have a full recovery without full-strength schools, everyone back sitting in those classrooms, kids learning again.”
Natalya Murakhver, who has a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old in a city public school, told CNN that parents such as her will need to understand the implementation of the return to school.
“We do believe the mayor has the best interests of children at heart and applaud his statement, but we do need to see a plan,” said Murakhver, whose kids have already returned to class on a part-time basis.
The risks of Covid to children, as she sees it, are minuscule, and Murakhver said saw her kids struggle academically when learning remotely. They wanted nothing to do with the screen on remote days and couldn’t catch up on the days they went into school, she said.
Now, she said, they have a “fighting chance” at a good education.
“They’re different children,” she said. “They’re definitely happier. They can socialize with friends in and after school and it’s far superior.”
But Min Lee, the mother of an eighth-grader, is feeling mixed about the return to full-time in-person schooling.
Her family has opted for hybrid learning, in which her son goes into school three days a week, she said.
The majority of adults being vaccinated and her son receiving his first dose has eased her safety concerns some, she said, but she also weighs the possibility that her son could still get sick.
For her, as well, hearing a plan would be a comfort.
“Knowing that now the full student body will be there, kids traveling from all different boroughs on public transportation…I would like to hear more not only from the city and Department of Health but the DOE as to what they’re planning and how they plan to implement these safety protocols and make sure they’re not only implemented but enforced correctly,” Lee said. “Then that will give me some peace of mind.”
Regardless of her family’s decision, Lee said not having the option to be remote might not consider the needs of different families.
“I think that especially during this past year, we needed a lot of people being thoughtful and empathic, being more considerate of everyone’s situations,” she said. “You don’t really know what people have gone through.”
Though many kids might benefit educationally and socially from being in school full time, Lee said she doesn’t see that as a blanket statement for all students.
Some, she said, may be dealing with some PTSD and social anxiety from the pandemic, and they may need to ease back in, she said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said all students in the state, not just those in the city, should be able to return to campus in the fall.
A Buffalo parent, Rachel Fix Dominguez, told CNN affiliate WKBW the state should be mindful of individual places and circumstances.
For Buffalo, she said she believes remote learning should still be an option in the fall. With less public transportation to and from school, the push for mandatory returns may not be as feasible, she said.
Dominiguez, co-chair, Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization, told WKBW that a plan for the next school year will be presented at the city school board meeting on June 4