New York City on Sept. 13 opened its classroom doors to nearly 1 million students, many of whom are returning for the first time since March 2020, when the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic prompted the nation’s largest public school system to close.
Just about 40 percent of New York City’s public school students went back into their classrooms this spring, after city officials allowed families to opt between remote or in-person learning. In a change of course, however, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in May that the remote option would no longer be available in the fall, and that all students would attend school in-person, with few exemptions for those with certain medical conditions.
“Our kids need to be in school and it’s unbelievable that some kids haven’t seen the inside of a classroom for a year and a half,” de Blasio said last week at a press conference. “The healthiest, best place for kids to be is in school. And we have really outstanding health and safety measures in place to make sure our kids will have a positive and safe school year.”
Those health and safety measures include an indoor and outdoor mask requirement, a three-foot physical distancing rule, and two air purifiers in each classroom. Any visitors aged 12 and above, including parents, are also required to show proof that they have received at least one dose of vaccine against the CCP virus, which causes COVID-19, before they enter school buildings.
There is also a vaccination requirement for all adults working at schools. About 148,000 public school teachers, staff members, and contractors will have to get at least a first dose of CCP virus vaccine by Sept. 27, according to the city’s education department.
As for students, de Blasio said there are no plans for a vaccine mandate for them, as the city’s current priority is to ensure as many as possible students are physically back into classrooms.
“We just don’t think that’s the right thing to do,” the mayor told the press, when asked whether his city would follow the lead of Los Angeles. The board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest public school system, voted last week to require students 12 and older to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 19.
“The most important thing right now is getting kids back in school,” he said. “If there’s a family that’s not yet ready, I don’t want that family kept out of school.”
However, de Blasio noted that a vaccine mandate remains a possibility for eligible students.
“We can keep any option on the table, but right now, no, we want every kid in school and we want to reach them the ways we’re reaching them.”