NEW YORK — The city needs to hire thousands of teachers in order to bring students in all grades back to schools part-time next week.

How's that process going? Mayor Bill de Blasio refuses to say.

"When we have everyone assigned, every seat filled, we'll announce that number, that final number,” de Blasio told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. “I'm going to announce it when we get to the final thing."

What You Need To Know

  • De Blasio won't say how many new teachers have been hired — or how many more the city needs

  • Students in K-5 and K-8 schools return Tuesday, and middle and high schoolers return Thursday

  • Teachers and principals tell NY1 their schools remain short on teachers with just days to go until students arrive

The mayor has pledged to hire 4,500 people to help schools teach children in classrooms and remotely simultaneously, an approach called blended learning. But the union representing principals has said those hires would only be enough to allow for the reopening of elementary schools on Tuesday, and more would be necessary to reopen middle and high schools on Thursday, as planned.

"The most important reality is to have every school have the complement they need for the reopening, and I feel good about the effort,” the mayor said.

The staffing crunch is what led de Blasio to delay the opening of schools a second time in favor of this phased-in approach.

During his weekly radio appearance on WNYC Radio on Friday, the mayor said there's no reason to delay again — and became frustrated when asked if that meant there was no chance of a delay due to staffing.

"I don't think that's productive. I'm telling people, I'm just telling you, the truth is, that we are getting the people we need in place, period,” he said.

But one high school principal tells NY1 his school still needs 14 teachers, and that while he'd been given extra funding to hire substitutes, he wasn't confident enough were available.

And teachers at New Utrecht High School, in Brooklyn, who penned a letter this week calling for all-remote instruction, say they're not ready for Thursday. They claim the school has not lined up enough staff to teach blended learning students on the days they're working remotely. Without more staff, teacher Nate Floro says, those students will suffer.

“It basically just means that a student is going to be doing independent work or struggling to figure out independent work four days a week almost on many weeks or three days a week, unless the teacher is lucky or doesn't have kids or other responsibilities and can spend four or five hours after work calling kids,” Floro said.


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