‘Our kids are going to come back’: de Blasio says NYC public schools won’t be remote

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Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday he’s sticking to his guns on the city’s school reopening plan with students’ return to classrooms just a few weeks away, confidently asserting that City Hall will not devise a virtual education arrangement.

Asked during his daily press briefing if City Hall has been working on creating a remote curriculum option for families who want it, the mayor answered with an unequivocal “No.”

“We have the gold standard of health and safety measures. It worked unbelievably well. It is proven,” he said Thursday morning. “Our kids are going to come back. … We’re going to keep kids safe.

De Blasio insisted that he is “absolutely convinced” that the COVID-19 prevention measures and increased vaccination rates will ensure students stay healthy amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant in the five boroughs.

“This is going to be the place that the kids need to be,” he said of public schools.

The mayor declared “we have one plan,” insisting city public school teachers will not during the 2021-2022 school year educate kids learning from their bedrooms and couches when the school years begins in September.

During the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were shut down for in-person learning, requiring students to learn without their teachers’ in the same room. The city Department of Education’s remote learning efforts received low marks from Democratic voters in the Big Apple, according to a poll released in June.

The McLaughlin & Associates survey found 44.8 percent said their family’s out-of-classroom educational experiences left them “not satisfied.”

As more New Yorkers got vaccinated and the COVID-19 rate plummeted in the spring, de Blasio announced in May that public schools would reopen in September without a virtual learning option.

The CDC is urging everyone in K-12 schools to wear a mask when they return to class, regardless of vaccination status.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

“One million kids will be back in their classroom in September, all in-person, no remote,” Hizzoner said May 24 on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“We can’t live in the grip of COVID the rest of our lives,” he said at the time. “It’s time for everyone to come back.” 

Last week, de Blasio conceded the city is still figuring out how to teach students who test positive for COVID-19 and need to stay home.

“How we deal with a kid who is out for a week is something we’re working through right now. But we’re going to be on a fully in-person system,” he said during an Aug. 12 remote press conference.

Parents and local political leaders last month blasted the mayor for not taking steps toward creating a remote option for the new school year.

“We need to have a remote option, because we are still in COVID,” said on public school parents at a July 26 rally.

Zhaequan Brown, 19, gets the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Lehman High School, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in New York.
Zhaequan Brown, 19, gets the Pfizer vaccine at NYC’s Lehman High School in July.
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

But top city doctors say parents need not worry about their kid catching the bug in New York City public schools.

Dr. Ted Long, head of the city’s COVID-19 Test & Trace Corps, on Thursday cited a recent study showing Big Apple students who studied at home and those who learned in classrooms had about the same odds of contracting the coronavirus.

“What we found is that students and teachers in remote learning had the same risk of contracting COVID, if not a higher risk, than students and teachers that were in our schools,” said Long of the study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics. “It made them safe, and potentially safer than even if they weren’t remote learning.”

Touting masking and ventilation precautions, he added, “We have a strong real-world basis to show how safe our schools have been.”

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