NEW YORK - New York City public schools will reopen with in-person classes only in September, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday. Virtual classes will become a thing for the history books as the city's more than 1 million public school students will return to the classroom.
"We've got to understand we are leaving COVID behind. We can't live in the grip of COVID the rest of our lives," de Blasio said at his daily briefing. "It's going to be in our past as a crisis, like the flu and other things, but it will be manageable."
An hour after the mayor's announcement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed the same, saying all New York state schools will reopen in September.
Virtual learning has been the preferred option for most students in the city since the pandemic broke out mid-school year in 2020. Come fall, some version of the coronavirus protocols that have been in place in the current academic year, including mask-wearing and COVID-19 testing, will continue.
In April, 51,000 students returned to the classroom after schools were closed in March 2020. The city's Department of Education estimated that overall 360,000 students would return for the remainder of the 2021 school year. That number was less than 40% of the student population. Roughly 700,000 students remained remote.
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Children and staff members who have been in physical schoolrooms have been randomly tested for COVID-19, and the city has reported very low rates of virus transmission in the schools.
"You can't have a full recovery without full-strength schools," de Blasio said on the MSNBC program "Morning Joe."
He added that parents would be invited to visit their children's schools starting in June to get "reacclimated" to the idea of in-person school.
"Anyone who has a question or concern, come into your child's school," the mayor said. "See what's going on, get the answers."
In New York City, health and safety protocols will continue including mask-wearing and COVID-19 testing. Schools Chancellor Miesha Porter said all students, teachers, and staff are directed to return
The United Federation of Teachers issued a statement supporting the mayor's decision to fully return to in-person learning but also said a virtual option still needs to exist to service those with serious medical needs.
With The Associated Press