NEW YORK — The delta variant has the number of coronavirus cases in New York City climbing, but city officials say they’re not changing their plans to move full steam ahead in reopening public schools.
What You Need To Know
- City officials say there's no plan to go offer a remote option, even as the delta variant leads to an increase in coronavirus cases
- But some families say they won't be comfortable coming back in person, and want a remote option
- The schools chancellor says remote will be an option when a school or classroom must close
For some families, the return to school is a concern as delta surges.
“We are incredibly anxious, for lack of a better word,” said Paullette Healy, a parent and member of the Citywide Council for Special Education.
Healy’s two children learned remotely last year, and she’d like the option for them to do so again, especially with the large class sizes at their schools and unanswered questions about social distancing.
“We're looking at 35 kids in a classroom, coming in September,” Healy said. “We don't know if they got vaccinated, a lot of my daughter's classmates are not 12 yet, they won't be 12 until January, February, so they're not even eligible for a vaccine if they wanted to.”
Asked Wednesday if the more contagious strain would prompt him to offer remote classes for unvaccinated students, Mayor Bill de Blasio was decisive in his answer.
“No. The plan is to have all our kids back,” de Blasio said.
But remote learning won’t entirely disappear: it will be an option when classrooms or schools must close, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter told NY1 on Thursday.
“We remain committed to in person learning, but we’ve learned a lot over the past year about our ability as a system to pivot to remote if necessary. And so we have that as an option for potential closures, potential classroom closures,” Porter said in an interview with "Mornings On 1."
The city insists there will be no remote option, but that it will use remote learning in emergency situations, such as a class needing to be quarantined.
Porter appeared alongside Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi, who reiterated the importance of vaccination. The pair pushed the city’s "Vax to School" initiative, calling for eligible students to get vaccinated.
About 60% of faculty members are vaccinated, according to Porter, a number she expects to grow.
The city overall is seeing growth in vaccinations with the its new efforts to get more New Yorkers the shot.
Porter and Choksi have made the media rounds this week, urging parents to vaccinate their children ahead of the first day of class, Sept. 13.
“The more students, the more faculty members, the more people are vaccinated, the safer all of our schools and our communities will be,” Porter said.
While the city hasn't provided final details on social distancing or how frequently students will be tested for COVID-19, Porter says safeguards will remain in place.
But Healy believes the lack of a fully remote option will lead parents to consider alternatives like charter schools — and says she may do the same.
"Without a remote option, I and many other families are going to be looking at other public school options,” she said.
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Watch the full interview with Porter above.