NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Friday marks a crucial deadline for New York City parents. They must inform the school district whether their children will opt for entirely remote learning or attend some in-person classes in September.
As CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports, it’s a difficult decision for parents who must take into account more than just their child’s safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re thinking about their emotional growth, their educational growth. But also thinking about their safety and the safety of our loved ones,” said Michael Meade.
Many parents said they’re still grappling with the decision and need more information.
“With my wife… we haven’t agreed, necessarily, yet. I think it’s a matter of postponing the decision,” said Pedro Sancholuz.
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“There’s not a waking moment where I don’t think about this decision and what I’m going to do,” said Derin Vidal, whose daughters want to go back to school. But, she’s not ready to decide.
“The centralized plan that they’re having, I don’t know what it entails. I don’t know who is gonna be teaching my kids,” said Vidal. “So, I’m like stuck.”
“The plan is not good, no one is happy. Parents aren’t happy. Teachers aren’t happy. School administrators are working so hard to make this work,” said Amanda Ritchie.
Watch Aundrea Cline-Thomas’ report —
Brenda and Anthony Wallace, in Washington Heights, say their daughters will do school fully online come fall.
“Doing the half remote, half in-person, I just think will be very difficult for them to adjust to. They’ll never feel comfortable,” Brenda Wallace told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
Friday wasn’t a hard deadline. Parents can switch at any time to the other option.
“Right now, we’re just waiting. If the high rates are going up, we’re planning to keep them at home. If the rates are low, like right now, we plan to send them to school,” said Francisco Ortega, a father in Washington Heights.
Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to address parents’ concerns Friday.
“In the course of the next couple of weeks, you’re going to get all the details about your school’s schedule template and then your individual child’s schedule,” said de Blasio.
“I think most parents feel strongly that even some time in school is a lot better for their kids than none,” he said.
It’s a decision many parents are not rushing into. Others have already made up their minds.
“For us, it’s better to keep protecting them. We take care of everyone,” said Luis Plaza, whose grandchildren will stay home in fall to take classes entirely online.
“Since [COVID-19] is passing, my parents don’t want any interaction with the school. So that’s why we’re going remote, completely,” said Jun Sito, an 8th grader. “I feel horrible.”
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It all comes down to safety.
“We’re feeling nervous about the overall safety and how it’s gonna be kept in check,” said Amanda Fry, a mother in Washington Heights.
The low infection rate in New York City provides comfort to families leaning towards in-person classes. But, there are concerns about ventilation in school buildings and kids not following the rules.
“What about the teachers? Are they still comfortable with that?” said Celine Keshishian.
The success of in-person learning also depends on teachers and staff, who have some of the same concerns as parents.
On Monday, CBS2 asked the district how many teachers and staff opted not to return to school buildings, but the New York City Department of Education refused to respond.
“I feel strongly we can bring the pieces together because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do for our kids. It’s the right thing to do for our city, and we’re gonna keep working to make sure it’s safe,” said de Blasio.
Schools chancellor Richard Carranza says no more than 12 students will be in the classroom at a time. If one child tests positive, the whole class and teacher will quarantine for two weeks.
“We’re gonna have randomized temperature checks, everyone will be wearing personal protection equipment,” he said. “We’re gonna have 24/7 people walking around disinfecting door knobs and hand rails.”
The teachers union president says, “Parents and teachers must be confident that schools are safe before they reopen. In New York City, that is still an open question.”
The city department of education says if at any point the infection rate for students hits 3%, all city schools will close and switch to remote learning.
Parents told CBS2 even if they’re learning towards sending their kids to school, that could change when new information becomes available.
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