The in-class learning in the nation's largest public school system will start on Sept. 21, two weeks later than initially planned, the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday, adding that the local authorities reached an agreement with the teachers' unions.
The city aimed to reopen on Sept. 10, but the additional days will give teachers and administrative staff more time to prepare the buildings and ensure safe conditions for the students' return.
Remote learning stars as anticipated, on Sept. 16. Michael Mulgrew, the head of the United Federation of Teachers in New York, commented that the agreement is ''a national example of how to get the things done.'' He added the schools in New York would have the nation's ''most aggressive protocols and highest safety standards.''
The New York City mayor also confirmed that a team of engineers inspects the ventilation systems in all the 1,700 public schools across the city.
Classroom activities are set to start with a hybrid model, meaning that students who choose to attend schools will have two to three days of in-person classes and will study from home the other days. The measure aims to reduce class sizes and promote social distancing.
All K-12 students will be required to wear face masks indoors, excluding those who cannot do this due to health reasons. Face covering is obligatory for teachers too.
The educators' union already warned the local authorities that if the health and safety measures are not guaranteed, they will approve the first teachers' strike in New York in 45 years.
New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, also joined the reopening school debate, saying that bringing K-12 students back to the classroom would ''inevitably'' lead to an increase in the number of coronavirus infections in some schools.
In Cuomo's view, should look into how the colleges handled the situation. ''What we are seeing in colleges I think is going to replicate in K-12,'' Cuomo said. He opined that the question is how well the schools and the officials are prepared to deal with the situation and enforce the rules.
Cuomo gave as an example the recent surge of confirmed novel virus cases at SUNY Oneonta earlier this week. The college had to close doors for two weeks after 105 people tested positive. Under Cuomo's rules for colleges, a school must go all-remote for fourteen days if it hits 100 cases.
The governor said it is unclear whether the outbreak is due to socializing and parties at colleges or lack of compliance with the community's rules.
Mayor De Blasio already said he would reclose K-12 schools if the city's infection rate jumps above 3%.
What do you think? Shall the rest of the states follow New York's example and delay the beginning of the in-class activities?