Majority of New York City students will return for in-person classes this fall

As of Aug. 10, more than 700,000 students are slated to return for some form of in-person learning this fall.

Out of 1.1 million public school students, just over 700,000 will take classes in school buildings for at least part of the week this fall, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. Meanwhile, approximately 264,000 — or 26 percent of students — will attend remote-only classes, hizzoner said.

In addition, about 85 percent of the teaching workforce — 66,000 instructors — will teach in a blended model whereas about 15 percent of educators have requested reasonable accommodations to work from home, according to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. 

The announcement comes three days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave New York City schools the go-ahead to reopen this fall.

New York City is the only major city planning for in-person classes at all this fall after the city of Chicago reversed course last week and announced that the nation’s third-largest school district would rely only on remote learning for the upcoming semester — a call that came after the country’s second-largest school district in Los Angeles chose to go fully remote come September.

Parents and teachers alike have expressed concerns over the city’s plan to reopen schools, many wondering if students will be safe while attending in-person classes. Teachers at Manhattan’s M.S. 324 have maintained that their students will be put in danger this fall given that the school’s ventilation system hasn’t worked in years. According to a 2019 building inspection report, over a dozen of the building’s exhaust fans do not work. 

De Blasio said on Monday that classrooms with broken ventilation systems will not be used for in-person classes and will be “segmented off” until the Department of Education believes they are usable. Instructors and family members have also raised concerns over a lack of guidance about class schedules — which parents and students will start receiving beginning Aug. 17, three weeks before the school year is scheduled to begin.

As the number of new coronavirus cases rise in other parts of the country, the mayor continues to boast New York City’s relatively low infection rate. On Aug. 8, 53 people were admitted to a New York City public hospital with possible COVID-19 symptoms. That same day, the city reported 285 people in public hospital Intensive Care Units with COVID-19 complications and that just 1 percent of tests performed came back positive for the virus.

“Now, look around the country, we see a challenging situation,” de Blasio said on Aug. 10 — one day after the country reported over 5 million cases of the virus, with health officials linking recent spikes in the virus to heavily populated states like California, Texas, and Florida.

Moreover, nearly 100,000 new cases of the virus reported in the last two weeks of July were in children, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association

“I hope and pray that their situation improves soon but we are not those places,” the mayor said. “New York City is different.”

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.