New York high schools will reopen for face-to-face learning on Monday

Posted by Dakin Andone, CNN

(CNN) – New York City will reopen its public high schools on Monday and invite some students back to face-to-face study about a year after schools first closed due to Covid-19.

The majority of students in the country’s largest school district will continue distance learning. Up to 55,000 students between 9th and 12th grades who previously opted for face-to-face learning are expected to return on Monday, officials said earlier this month. That’s about 20% of school enrollment in the district, reported CNN subsidiary WABC.

About half of the city’s high schools will be able to study all or most of their students in person for five days a week, New York Education Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said in a March 8 press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio .

In a message to the families on Friday, Porter said high schools would follow the same protections put in place for younger students who have returned to the classroom, such as weekly student and staff sampling, physical distancing and masks.

With the spring break scheduled to begin on March 29, students and staff traveling to a location on the state’s travel advisory list must be quarantined for 10 days or tested according to state guidelines, according to the Department of Education.

The mayor said children had experienced increased emotional turmoil during the pandemic last year. At the press conference earlier this month, he said, “Think about the children we lost to suicide.”

“Think of the kid who is feeling a little hopeless and lonely right now, what it will mean to them on Monday, March 22nd, when they walk back through the door of their high school, see their friends, see their teachers, and.. I have hope again, “said de Blasio.

Sport will return next month

College sports are slated to resume in April, city officials said, pointing out the positive effects they can have on the mental health of athletes. But there will be “strict security protocols” and de Blasio tried to temper parents’ expectations by saying sporting events “cannot have large crowds”.

“We all have to protect,” he said, “so it’s about giving children the opportunity to participate.”

Younger students have already had the opportunity to return to face-to-face tuition: elementary schools reopened in December while middle school students returned late last month. The urge to reopen school to younger age groups came because they have struggled the most with online learning and appear to have the lowest rate of coronavirus spread.

The high school reopens just days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published updated guidelines for children in schools. This included relaxing the guidelines for physical distancing and recommending that students be at least 3 feet apart, as opposed to the previous 6 feet.

The New York teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, emailed its members on Friday that it was consulting medical experts on the guidelines. The group said the physical distancing rules in New York City public schools were “extremely difficult to implement”.

Following the CDC’s updated guidelines released on Friday, Mayor de Blasio announced the city was preparing to allow more students to engage in face-to-face learning, with an initial focus on preschool and elementary school students. More details are expected on Monday.

De Blasio said Friday he was told that more than 40,000 educators had been vaccinated, but he believed the number was much higher.

The mayor has pledged to fully reopen all city schools in the fall.

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