NYC Pushes Back Start of In-Person Classes


NYC Pushes Back Start of In-Person Classes

Sep 17, 2020

In New York City, with the planned start of the already-delayed school year just four short days away, the mayor dropped a bombshell today: only a tiny fraction of students would be admitted to school buildings on Monday, September 21.

Instead, the city will bring students back to the physical classroom gradually, with middle and high schools now projected to open their doors on October 1. Around 40 percent of the school system’s 1.1 million students have opted for the city’s remote-only plan, reports The New York Times.

The mayor cited two primary reasons for the delay: The school system still had significant staffing shortages because it needed to accommodate two slates of teachers—those teaching remotely and those teaching in-person as part of a hybrid format. (An official report estimated that the district needs as many as 11,900 additional teachers or substitutes.) And the mayor cited the importance of fully implementing safety protocols before reopening.

The outcry against the announcement was swift and fierce. Teachers, parents and students had been sounding concerns about safety and inadequate staffing for well over a month. Principals also raised the alarm, citing problems with air ventilation, among other factors. Critics contended that the safety rules agreed to by the teachers’ union earlier this month had not been met—contentions that the mayor dismissed just days ago. A middle-school principal in Brooklyn tweeted, “I’m beginning to think this is part of a secret plan to mentally and emotionally break me.”

The scale of the uproar may be fitting for the country’s largest school district. But it is not alone in pushing back reopening. According to an EdSurge/Social Context Labs database of 375 districts, as of two weeks ago, a whopping 23 percent (85 districts) had announced a delay in the start to their school year for in-person, hybrid and remote learning.

Most announcements were not as dramatic as New York City’s eleventh-hour decision, and many were by just a few days to accommodate additional teacher training. But at a time when so much about the school year is up-in-the-air, the frequency of delayed starts is just one more area of anxiety for many educators, parents and students.


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