A majority of New York City public school students returned for in-person learning on Monday for the first time in 18 months, a reset to the traditional school year after Covid-19 protocols upended classrooms. class across the country and exposed the current challenges for teachers, parents and children.
But already there were problems. The country’s largest school district, which serves around 1 million students, saw its medical screening website temporarily go down in the early hours of the morning. The site is intended for employees, students and visitors to register each day before they can enter a building operated by the city’s Department of Education.
The agency said health exams could also be administered in schools or with a paper form.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and city chancellor of schools Meisha Porter started the day at a public school in the Bronx by punching students.
De Blasio told a press conference on Monday that the school district is in a stronger position than last school year with two-thirds of eligible public school children currently vaccinated against Covid, vaccination sites in 700 schools are open and a full vaccination mandate in place for teachers in two weeks.
Unions representing cleaning and janitorial staff also tweeted that workers were “in full force” to disinfect classrooms.
De Blasio first announced in May that public schools would reopen for the new school year without a distance option, stressing “it’s time for all of us to be together. It’s time to do things the way they were. supposed to be done “. Schools have been largely closed since March 2020.
While de Blasio initially encountered little resistance in the spring, the increase in cases of the delta variant of the coronavirus has left some parents and politicians to delay the full return, preferring to wait until children under 12 can also be vaccinated. About 600,000 student families chose to keep their children in distance learning during the last school year.
De Blasio said if there is any exposure at a school, those who are vaccinated and have no symptoms will not need to be quarantined and will remain in school according to federal government guidelines.
The mayor added that nearly 80% of all adults in New York City have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccination.
“This is a game-changer,” he told reporters, adding that he did not expect the same number of class closings and disruptions as last year.
Unlike other states, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, has called for an all-school mask warrant for “anyone who enters a school building.”
While leaders in New York are optimistic that a school year with little disruption and as close to normal as possible is achievable, school districts in other states with higher cases of Covid and rates of weaker vaccinations are already facing their own chaotic school years.
In Texas, state attorney general Ken Paxton on Friday announced he was suing at least six districts that had defied Gov. Greg Abbott’s order banning mask warrants in public schools. Some school districts have faced outbreaks of Covid, forcing some classes and entire schools to temporarily close.
In Florida, an back-and-forth legal battle has ensued between Governor Ron DeSantis and schools trying to enforce mask requirements. On Friday, the Republican governor’s administration received approval to keep an ordinance in place banning mask warrants in schools while the measure passes through an appeals court.