NEW YORK, (Xinhua) — The public schools in New York City started a new school year with full in-person teaching and learning on Monday as many parents and teachers are still calling for an on-line option.
The public school system in New York City, the biggest one in the United States with about 1.1 million students, saw the return of most of its students with joy and anxiety.
Meanwhile, New York City requires the vast majority of its 300,000 employees to work in person starting from Monday, leaving parents with no choice but sending their children back to school.
All students and staff members are required to wear masks at school and classrooms, and cafeterias will have air purifiers, with each classroom to be sanitized each night.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomed students back to school on Monday morning at Public School 25 in Bronx.
“It’s so good to see all our kids coming back to school in person where they can learn best,” said de Blasio, adding that testing and tracing make schools in New York City the safest public school system in America.
New York City mandated all staff members to get vaccinated by at least one shot by Sept. 27.
“And as everyone knows, in the coming days every single adult in our schools is going to be vaccinated. Over two thirds of our kids, 12 to 17 years old, vaccinated,” said de Blasio.
New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter urged people to get vaccinated, saying vaccination is the key to recovery.
Now, students aged 12 and above are not mandated to get inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines and the federal regulator has not approved COVID-19 vaccines for kids younger than 12 years old.
Porter recently said 74 percent of teachers have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, parents, municipal workers and even children held a march from the city hall to Washington Square Park on Sunday demanding a remote learning option and safer conditions.
Another rally was held on Friday at the building of the Department of Education in Lower Manhattan demanding a remote learning option.
A number of parents of students from Public School 229 in Queens sent emails to or called schools asking for a remote learning option and some parents said they won’t send their children to school on the first day or for a few weeks.
New York City has put into place rules on quarantine and even school closures in case of infections and Porter admitted that remote learning is a tool at hand.
As many as 87 school-based employees died of COVID-19 in New York City since March 2020, according to the website of New York City’s Department of Education.