City schools are preparing to welcome students in just over a week. While the teachers’ unions are still in negotiations with authorities, parents are slightly apprehensive about sending their children to school.
Owing to a dip in transmission on coronavirus cases, the city is planning to start school on Sept. 10. Under the new setting, students will learn five days a week with a choice of a blended learning plan (two days at school, three days at home) or fully remote.
Apart from the strict inspections and corrections with respect to better ventilation systems in every nook and cranny of each school, the city has also distributed 324,000 iPads to students who need them. Currently, school ventilation action teams are checking the air quality in every classroom and learning space. As of today, 88% of school buildings have already been inspected, and necessary repairs are underway.
The Department of Education has approved more than 240 outdoor learning plans, with more expected to get the green light as the weeks go on. Students and faculty are required to wear masks and check their temperature before going into school buildings and could be randomly chosen for temperature check during their time at the school premise.
Another concern for parents is the commutation. There’s no school busing plan in place, as bus drivers continue to hammer out their contract with the city and potential safety protocols, including 25% capacity on each bus.
What’s more, is that the teachers union is threatening to go on an indefinite strike if the city doesn’t start a medical monitoring program, requiring monthly random COVID-19 testing within each school community. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said, “We will not go back unless independent medical experts gave us a stamp of approval. It’s not like the mayor is going to convince me not to have a mandated testing program.” This being said, many teachers have been backed by parents, in a demand to push back the date of re-opening to a later date.
Many parents are worried that Sept 10 might be too soon, especially since schools “are not prepared” for this sudden intake.
“The mandatory approach has not been the way that’s been done in other countries, and it’s something that we’ve looked at, but believe, for a variety of reasons, it is not the best way to get to where we need to go,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.