NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Monday was the first day of school for the nation’s largest school district.
For the first time in a year and a half, all 1 million students in New York City public schools were expected back for in-person learning.READ MORE: NYC Bracing For Return To In-Person Learning In Schools And First Day Of Vaccine Enforcement For Businesses
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Mayor Bill de Blasio started his tenure intent on being the education mayor. His lasting legacy will be the pre-K and 3-K classes that he started, and he doesn’t want to tarnish it by insisting on in-classroom learning while the pandemic still rages and then having to pull back if students and teachers get sick.
Clearly, many are buying in. The Department of Education said attendance on the first day was 82.4%.
Preliminary attendance for the first day: 82.4 percent, comparable to years prior. As always, this # is subject to change as more schools enter their data.
— Danielle Filson (@DanielleFilson) September 14, 2021
“Everybody, it is happening. School is back in New York City,” de Blasio said.
The mayor was so excited about schools reopening you might have thought it was his first day, too. And in a sense, it was, because he has a lot riding on getting everyone back in the classroom and keeping them safe.
Some parents kept their kids home, while others sent their kids to school, but worried about their safety.
“I’m so nervous. I already told them to keep their masks on. Don’t take them off. It’s gonna be a crazy year, but we’re gonna work through it,” parent Stephanie Cruz said.
Cruz has five kids in public school and said she is hoping for a remote option.
“Some of the parents that are really afraid to send their kids to school during this COVID, you know. I hope they do do it,” Cruz said.READ MORE: CBS2 Gets In-Person Look At What NYC Public Schools Are Doing To Keep Students And Staff Safe
“We make sure to tell him not to take his mask off for nothing,” parent Vanessa Vadez added.
Others were just happy to have their kids in school.
“I want my child to learn and I would like for him to interact,” one parent said.
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It’s a complicated issue. Parents want a remote option in case their kids get sick because they don’t want them to lose 10 days of school if they have to quarantine. Kramer asked the mayor why he has has been adamant about not allowing remote learning, and if has changed his mind. It seems he has.
“We do not expect anywhere near the kinds of closures or classroom disruptions that we saw last year, but if a child has to go home, alternative learning opportunities will be provided for them,” de Blasio said.
The mayor said city schools have what he called the “gold standard” of safety measures in place, plus two-thirds of kids age 12-17 are vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the teachers union, which has to have all its members vaccinated, except those with religious or medical exemptions, by Sept. 27 was also optimistic about schools being safe.
“We have dozens of people who are safety trained who will run around the city as they did last year to make sure that everything is being done properly,” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said.
Kids seemed excited to be back. Bronx sixth grader Alejandro Figueroa said he’s happy, adding “I’m just ready to go to school already. I’ve been waiting for like a while.”
The city said it will also offer COVID tests for school kids, but kids who are vaccinated won’t have to quarantine if classmates gets sick and they are asymptomatic.MORE NEWS: NYC Vaccine Mandate: Where And How To Show Proof Of Vaccination For Indoor Activities
CBS2’s John Dias contributed to this report.