NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City public high schools will reopen later this month, and sports will resume in mid-April, the mayor announced Monday.
After four months out of the classroom, students at all 488 high schools can head back starting March 22, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.READ MORE: COVID 1 Year: Area School Districts Continue To Make Best Of Tough Situation, Always With Eyes On The Future
Parents like Allison Ordonez and her 14-year-old daughter, Arianna, a ninth grader at Academy of Finance and Enterprise in Long Island City, were happy to hear the news.
“I was like hallelujah. I want even one day back to school for every week I would be happy because, like, I feel like she’s been in her bedroom all, since November,” Allison Ordonez said.
All New York City public schools switched to remote learning last November, heading into the holiday season. Elementary schools were the first to reopen for in-person learning on Dec. 7, followed by middle schools on Feb. 25.
“We’re really excited about this,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We are ready to go, we have all the pieces we need to bring high school back and bring it back strong and, of course, to bring it back safely.”
WATCH: Mayor Bill De Blasio Announces High School Reopening Date
On Monday, the mayor, joined by new Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter, made the announcement, adding about half of the high schools will be reopening with five days of in-person learning for all or the majority of their students. The rest will be hybrid.
Teachers and staff will return on March 18 to prepare.READ MORE: Parents Hopeful Incoming Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter Will Address Strains Of Pandemic And Growing Learning Gap
“With a 0.57 positivity rate, our schools are the safest place to be and we are ready to reopen schools for our high schoolers,” Ross Porter said. “We can expect to see students more engaged and excelling in academics. We are going to continue with what we know works — weekly in-person testing for our students, educators and staff, and now our student-athletes as well.”
High school students have been out of the classroom for nearly half the school year. Ordonez’s daughter said as a freshman she had little time to get to know her teachers or make friends.
“I’m kind of on the fence about whether I want to go back in March, because I don’t know how I’m gonna fit in with everything that’s going on. I mean, am I gonna sink under pressure? Am I gonna prosper? I don’t … I honestly don’t know,” Arianna Ordonoez said.
As part of Thrive NYC, counseling and mental health services are available for students at every school.
“We are very clear about the needs to meet them where they are, both socially, emotionally, in order to bring them where we know they will be and can be academically,” Ross Porter said.
The city is also hoping to lift students’ sprits by resuming all school sports in April with strict safety protocols in place, including moving indoor activities outdoors with no crowds or audiences. The season has been extended through summer to August.
“Parents, I’m going to say to you upfront: We need to understand that this is for the kids. Even though I was for years and years a sports parent, I loved going to the games. This is not that kind of situation, because we can’t have big crowds, we have to protect everyone,” de Blasio said. “So this is about giving the kids a chance to participate.”MORE NEWS: New York City Middle Schools Welcome Students Back For In-Person Learning
If the infection rate in the city continues going down and the vaccination rate goes up, the mayor said the city will consider giving students another chance to opt-in to in-person learning before the end of the school year. Teachers told Sanchez they still have safety concerns. They hope the city will give them updated ventilation reports on their classroom before they go back.