NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a reopening plan for public middle schools Monday.
Some 62,000 students in sixth grade and up have been all remote for months. Now middle schoolers — those in sixth to eighth grade — know when they can start going back. That date is officially Thursday, Feb. 25.READ MORE: COVID Impact On Children: Experts Say It’s Important For Parents To Validate Their Kids’ Feelings, Impose Daily Routines
Relieved parents are thrilled that their kids will soon be getting out of the house and back to the classroom.
“They’re ready to get back to school and see their friends, do spring things,” a parent named Ben told CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge.
“It’s very difficult for the kids, very difficult for the parents, and it’s really, really important they go back,” a mother told Duddridge.
De Blasio shut down all public schools in November when the citywide positivity rate reached 3%. In December, Pre-K through fifth grade was reopened, with weekly testing.
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The mayor said officials are still working to reopen high schools, but said there is enough testing capacity for middle schools to offer a full week of in-person instruction to half of their students. The other half will be part-time in person, for now.
Parents speculate that’s because of staffing, space and safety protocols. Though the city hasn’t officially said why.
“Those who want in-person education, we want to get to as many days as possible, ideally five days a week. Those who don’t, are not sure about it, then remote education’s right for them,” said de Blasio.
Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza On Middle Schools Reopening
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said middle schools are prepared to reopen.
“We’re hiring additional staff to support our situation room and responding quickly to schools. We’re adding teams to conduct weekly testing in middle schools as well as continued weekly testing in all of our elementary schools,” Carranza said.
Staff who return to school buildings will now be prioritized for vaccinations over winter break, and safety protocols will be upped.
The United Federation of Teachers said it is not opposing the decision and will be monitoring to make sure testing and guidelines are strictly followed.
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But some parents and students said they are apprehensive.
“I actually think schools are probably one of the best places to be safe. I just worry about the extra emotional burden that we put on our teachers and our staff, and our principals, and expect them to teach,” said mom Sharon Meiri-Fox.
De Blasio said the goal is to get high school students back sometime this school year.