Some students at Tottenville High School arrived for their first day of in-classroom instruction Thursday facing a last-minute change of plans. Because of a teacher shortage, students physically going to class will still be taught online.
“It’s kind of dumb. In my opinion, a classroom full of kids with no teacher doesn’t really go well, not here," said Tottenville Junior Damien Villaret.
His classmate Nicholas Catania is more open to the idea.
“I think it is very weird, but it’s better than being home, because at home you’re just not doing anything. It gives you a reason to leave your house," said Catania.
Principal Gina Battista abruptly announced the changes last weekend because she said her school did not have enough staff to teach students both in classrooms and remotely.
Students who chose blended learning, alternating between learning in classrooms and remotely at home, will still go to school on their designated days and to a classroom with adult supervision. But once there, the students will log onto their laptops or tablets and follow a teacher who is either at home or in another classroom.
It’s not exactly how Joseph DiMartino hoped to start his freshman year in high school.
“I feel like they’re going to skip out since it’s online and therefore I’m not going to learn as much in my freshman year,” said DiMartino.
Other schools in the city are doing the same thing. They planned it that way to provide the same course load with the teachers they have on hand.
But Many Tottenville parents are furious at the changes. Led by City Councilman Joe Borelli, some plan to join a lawsuit against the city’s Department of Education (DOE). They want the DOE to offer a five-day-a-week in-school option for families who want it.
“This is not a way to teach children. They are not going to learn," said parent Mary Delorenzo. "They need to be prepared. My son needs to go to college next year. My daughter needs her education."
Some students just hope it all goes back to normal before they graduate.
“I really do think I need to go into my final year of high school regularly because it’s just not fair for me to have to miss out on those things,“ said Catania.