Some parents may be itching for schools to reopen in September, but one NYC official’s suggests no children should set foot in a classroom until October at the earliest – and some older students wouldn’t go back until 2021.
Citing poor planning, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is pushing for the back-to-school phase-in to be held off until after September for children 10 and younger.
“We think opening up in September is just way too early,” Williams said Monday. “10 and under should be the only ones in those schools.”
Williams enlisted some medical experts who agree with his sentiments. An epidemiologist said that the youngest students are the ones who benefit the most from in-person learning, and they can be spread out throughout middle and high school campuses.
Research published in the Journal of American Medicine found that children under the age of 10 produce less of a specific enzyme in the nasal cavity that helps COVID enter the body – making them less likely to become infected, develop severe symptoms or transmit the virus to others.
“If you look at where schools have reopened, countries like Norway and Denmark are among those who have done the best,” said epidemiologist Celine. “They started with the youngest kids or really only reopened for elementary school kids, did not see outbreaks in the schools, did not see evidence of community transmission.”
The unions representing teachers and principals are raising safety concerns about returning to the classroom. Despite that, Mayor Bill de Blasio says he still hopes school will open in September – with students of all ages splitting their time between in person and remote learning.
“We've surveyed parents, they desperately – a huge majority wants to get kids back into school for the right reasons, to help them learn again, and for their social development,” de Blasio said. “Because they know it's a safe place, and there's food available.”
In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that from 231 school districts in the state, most students (76 percent) and teachers (81 percent) are expecting to return to the classroom this fall.
Others in the city are pushing for more creative solutions. Some parents have petitioned school officials, urging them to consider outdoor schooling especially while the weather is warm.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the decision need to be based on the rate of infection at the time, and has said a plan won’t be announced until early August – leaving parents scrambling and trying to plan for multiple possible scenarios.