NYC to Reopen Middle Schools Feb. 25, Keep High Schools Shut

New York City’s public middle schools will reopen Feb. 25 for those who want to learn in person, bringing about 62,000 students back into classrooms.

Many families have chosen solely remote education, but this move will bring the total of children learning in-person at least part time to about 250,000 of about a million public-school students. There are about 196,000 middle-school students in all.

No date has been set for high schools to reopen, although Mayor Bill de Blasio said that remains a goal for this school year.

”We’re going to get the high schools back,” de Blasio said Monday at a virus briefing. “High schools are a little bit more complicated.”

City officials intend to increase Covid-19 testing to permit the additional schools to open. “We are not compromising on safety. We will increase capacity of our weekly testing teams,” Education Department spokeswoman Miranda Barbot said in an email.

The department will prioritize vaccine appointments for school personnel Feb. 12 to Feb. 21, which is the midwinter recess, Barbot said. Teachers and other school staff will report for work Feb. 24.

The United Federation of Teachers, the union representing more than 100,000 school employees, said the city “has the right to reopen more schools when it has built enough capacity to maintain its strict in-school coronavirus testing standard.”

“The UFT will be monitoring to ensure that the testing regimen, the presence of personal protective equipment and social distancing requirements are strictly adhered to as new grades and buildings reopen,” union president Michael Mulgrew said in a statement.

Student Test

New York City was the only major U.S. school system to open its buildings for in-person classes in September. The city offered a hybrid schedule with a mix of remote and in-person learning. Most parents opted for their children to learn online as the city fought a resurgence in cases of the novel coronavirus.

The schools shut in November after the citywide positive-test rate reached 3%. Pre-kindergarten, elementary and special eduction instruction restarted in person in early December on the condition that weekly random testing of at least 20% of all school occupants be conducted.

“Our schools are among the safest places in all of New York City,” de Blasio said Monday.

De Blasio expects to have more than 5 million residents vaccinated by the end of June, and schools to return at full strength in September. Even so, remote instruction will be part of the curriculum, said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.

“This whole notion of remote learning, that’s going to stay with us way beyond the pandemic,” he said. “Think of the power of five students working on a project, and instead of being in one place together, they could do it remotely in an evening.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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