NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After major delays for the more than 1 million public school students in New York City, summer has come to a close.
School started Monday, including the first wave of about 90,000 students to start in-person learning. The rest are doing remote learning, as the city slowly phases others in.
By Monday night, city parks were packed with kids and adults blowing off steam from a stressful first full day of remote learning, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported.
From sign on to shut down, there were glitches. Some parents reported trouble getting Google accounts to work because links unexpectedly expired.
“You can’t possibly work. You have to tend to both children, their assignments, their separate teachers, the links, the codes,” one parent said.
“My day was pretty much being a first grade co-teacher for my little guy,” said Julia O’Brien.
Teachers vented on Twitter about the technical issues, too.
One asked, “Why am I teaching remotely in a school building with terrible Wi-Fi when I could be doing this at home safely away from catching COVID-19?”
Monday was the first day in school for 3-K, pre-K and District 75 students with special needs. More than 1,700 facilities reopened.
After dismissal, staff took to the streets of Downtown Brooklyn to demand fully remote learning over fears of COVID infection rates in their neighborhoods along with how hard it is to get tested.
“My fear, right now, is I’m going to make my students sick, and then I’m going to go home and make my daughter sick, and then she’s going to go to school and make her teacher sick,” said Sarah Yorra, who works at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School.
CBS2 learned I.S. 131 in The Bronx will be closed Tuesday after at least two people tested positive for COVID-19 in the building. All staff will work from home, except for those who will be brought in to deep clean the building.
Meanwhile, in Mahway, New Jersey, parents got a letter saying the “high school has been placed into a fully remote learning model” after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. A similar note went out about Ramapo Ridge Middle School.
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At Mosaic pre-K Center in Elmhurst, Queens, first day photos came after checking temperatures. Families were required to wait socially distanced, and no parents were allowed inside.
One dad was pleased with his choice to let his 4-year-old daughter start blended learning.
“We choose the students mixed with the friends. It’ll be helpful for their growth,” he told CBS2’s John Dias.
For months, the school had been getting the building ready.
“It’s going to be the cleanest year ever. We’re doing the best we can,” said teacher Sarah Istarki.
Watch John Dias’s Report:
Masks were mandatory for everyone, and the mayor went as far as saying it’s now “natural” for kids.
“These are 4-year-olds. They’re wearing their masks naturally. It isn’t a hassle for them. They just go with the flow,” he said.
However, another father said it took almost half a year for his son to get used to it.
“We’ve spent the last six months getting to this point where he’s wearing the mask all the time. It wasn’t easy at first,” said Franklin Jaramillio.
Mother Nerupama Debnats said she was comfortable sending her 3-year-old son to school, but her 8-year-old daughter will only be doing remote learning.
“I feel like it’s OK for him. When I talked to my daughter about the online, I didn’t feel like it was safe over there… Too much gathering. I don’t want to send her,” she told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
At the Mickey Mantel School on the Upper West Side, some teachers were worried about students with special needs ripping masks off.
“You say ‘six feet.’ They’re like, right there on your leg,” one person said. “You can try to get them to wear the mask as much as you want, but you put it on – 35 seconds later – it’s off their face.”
Watch Aundrea Cline-Thomas’s Report:
Last week, amid threats of a teacher strike over safety concerns and a lack of resources, the city changed course and opted for a phased-in return to school.
Next Tuesday, K-5 and K-8 schools will begin in person. Soon after on Oct. 1, it will be all middle and high schools, secondary schools and transfer/adult education.
Just over half of students have opted to return in-person, far fewer than earlier estimations.
After mounting concerns, teachers union president Michael Mulgrew said he was “confident” the schools would be ready to open next week.
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