Opening public schools for the fall is something Mayor Bill de Blasio has been pushing quite heavily — even before he got the go-ahead from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But accomplishing it is something that is going to take some serious planning — something people like council Speaker Corey Johnson doesn’t feel there’s been enough of.
“The plan outlined by the mayor and chancellor to reopen schools this September does little to alleviate parents’ concerns about child care for students when they are not physically in school,” Johnson said in a statement July 8.
“Abbreviated and no after-school means many parents can’t work. Sadly we know that this will disproportionately hurt women who are too often pushed out of the work force because they must choose between watching children or working.”
Not everyone has an understanding boss that will allow for flexible hours, Johnson said, even during a pandemic.
“I was pleased to hear that day care centers are allowed to open ... for our very young children, but we need a coordinated plan to keep all our children safe and healthy this fall,” Johnson said.
If schools are to reopen safely, a lot of preparation is going to be needed, according to city comptroller Scott Stringer, and a lot of that hasn’t happened yet.
That means more staffing in classrooms, building days that offer the most in-school class time for the most students, and ensuring every student has a free internet-connected device that will allow them to learn from home on days they can’t be in the classroom.
“If we aren’t smart and prepared for the upcoming school year, our students will suffer — especially lower-income students of color who are already facing disparities,” Stringer said in a report released last week. “And our economic ecovery will also be severely hampered because, without school, there can be no real return to work for many of our families.”
Stringer believes the city’s education department should consider double sessions each day, splitting the school day in half, allowing some to attend in the morning, while others could come in the afternoon.