Mayor Bill de Blasio Visits St. Bartholomew’s UPK Center During First Day of Public School Classes

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by Erin DeGregorio

ELMHURST On Sept. 21, Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, and New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza welcomed parents and children outside the Mosaic Pre-K Center, which the city runs out of St. Bartholomew School, for their first day of in-person learning. Greetings included elbow bumps, enthusiastic waves, and asking how students were feeling about the first day back at school.

Public schools across the city were supposed to begin the school year on Sept. 10, but pressure from school labor unions delayed the start twice. Up to 90,000 3-K, pre-K, and special needs students in the Department of Education’s 734 schools that serve District 75 are expected to return in person during the week of Sept. 21. Students in the older grades, who had opted for blended learning, began the school year with remote learning, instead, on Sept. 21. They will be physically returning to the classrooms during the week of Sept. 28. 

While in Elmhurst, Mayor de Blasio noted the devotion that was on display by Mosaic teachers, staff, and administration prior to the children’s arrivals.

“I have a lot of faith in our educators [and] I have a lot of faith in our school communities,” Mayor de Blasio said. “People choose to teach because they love children and they’re going to take good care of your children.”

All of the students who arrived at the building already had their backpacks and face coverings on before going inside. The mayor emphasized how these 4-year-olds are naturally and effortlessly wearing the coverings.

“It isn’t a hassle for them. They just go with the flow,” Mayor de Blasio said after touring the Mosaic Pre-K Center’s interior. “They’re really adaptable and we’re seeing it throughout the entry in the morning and also in the school … That’s why I’m very convinced this is going to be a good and safe experience for everyone.”

In the same vein, Chancellor Carranza said the Elmhurst center’s programming is “very smart” as small-sized groups and ample social distancing protocols are in place.

“‘They’re bringing students in smaller groups — even smaller than what they will have going forward because they want to orient students, make sure they have that transition,” Carranza said. “This is a great first day of school and we can hardly wait to see more of this as we go around the City.”

The Mosaic Pre-K Center opened in Sept. 2015 with 144 available seats.