By Emily Drooby
Backpacks and buses were seen around New York City Sept. 21, as public schools began their staggered rollout. Kids in 3-k, pre-k and district 75 special education started in-person learning. The rest of the city’s 1.1 million students started virtually.
It’s a far cry from the city’s original plan, which had all students starting in-person Monday. That was changed last-minute, less than a week ago.
Still, parents of the Big Apple’s youngest students told Currents News they were thrilled to get their kids back into a classroom.
With the new plan, 90,000 students start in-person learning this week at 734 schools and 1,050 community based early childhood programs.
Mousumi Islam said her daughter could not wait to go to school this morning.
Imitating her daughter, she said, “‘Mommy lets go, lets go.’ Wait, wait, 8:30 your class is opening. Hold on hold on. ‘No let’s go.’”
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the first phase of the rollout as inspiring. It’s the “first time our children are going back into school buildings in big numbers since the middle of March,” he explained.
Some parents are still worried.
“I’m a little bit scared with COVID-19,” Mousumi told Currents News. “I’m a little bit scared.”
The road to schools reopening has been long and bumpy. In-person learning has now been delayed twice, with health, safety, and a lack of teachers as to blame.
The new staggered reopening plan has elementary schools, both K-5 and K-8, going back next Tuesday, Sept. 29. Middle schools, high schools, secondary schools and transfer/adult education won’t start until October 1.
Despite continued delays, Mayor de Blasio remains optimistic.
“This morning, strong lift-off and you heard, it’s a huge number of schools and early childhood programs, and they’re starting strong,” he said. “So, I feel very good about the trajectory we are on.”
He was encouraged by the school’s safety procedures and by the sight of the city’s youngest students successfully wearing their masks.
“They were wearing those masks, it was natural to them,” Mayor de Blasio said. “That’s going to be crucial to everyone’s health and safety. Even four-year-old’s, three-year-olds can do it.”
About 42 percent of the city’s students have opted to start the year learning virtually, while most students who do go to in-person classes will still have a hybrid schedule.