NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City still needs to hire several thousands more teachers before schools fully open next week.

The big question is whether students in actual classrooms will still have to learn remotely.

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The mayor says no. The teachers union says yes.

As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reports, when almost one million New York City students return to school next week, many for in-person learning, it may depend on what your definition of “in-person” is.

Will students be taught by an actual teacher or not?

Kramer put the question to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Will everybody who goes into an in-person learning situation be learning directly with the teacher or will some of them have to do remote learning on their iPads?” Kramer asked.

Schools: The New Normal

“No. Our kids are going to go in the classrooms staffed by adults ready to teach them in-person,” the mayor said.

The same question to teachers union president Michael Mulgrew got a whole different response.

“Is there a possibility that next week some students could arrive in a classroom and find out that they may be taught from their iPad remotely?” Kramer asked.

“Yes. High school level, that is going to happen,” Mulgrew said.

“If I was a high school student and I’m in class for, say, six hours, what percentage of that would be an actual teacher?” Kramer asked.

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“It really varies on the school. If it’s a school with a lot of specialties inside of it, that percentage might be higher. If it’s a school that offers a lot of electives and you’re an older student who now has flexibility in the program, the percentage will be higher,” Mulgrew said.

Physics classes and other subjects where fewer students sign up could be done remotely, he said. He added that the teacher shortage is the reason. The city’s blended learning approach this year required an additional 7,000 teachers.

“If we wanted to put a live teacher for every subject… the 7,000 teachers would turned into about 14,000-15,000 teachers,” Mulgrew said.

As it is, the city is struggling to fill the new teaching slots, with the new hires promised the same salary and benefits. The mayor is refusing to say how many new teachers are actually needed. Mulgrew says it’s 3,000.

The mayor says he’s confident all the slots will be filled.

“I feel good that we’ll have the people we need when we need them,” de Blasio said.

Meanwhile there were problems when 90,000 younger students started school. Some parents reported trouble getting Google accounts to work because links unexpectedly expired.

“You can’t possible work, tend to both children, their assignments, their separate teachers, the links, the codes,” one woman said.

“My day was pretty much being a first grade co-teacher for my little guy,” Julia O’Brien added.

The city still has about a week to get it ducks in order. Elementary schools open Tuesday. Middle schools and high schools open Thursday.

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