New York City students deserve a remote option this academic year


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The Editorial Board

New York City public schools returned fully to in-person learning on Sept. 13, after a year and a half of remote learning. Many parents and students are worried about their health and safety despite the precautions put in place for face-to-face learning, especially since there is no alternative option for this academic year.

The students of New York City deserve a safe return to schools, therefore a remote learning option should be made available to them.

With increasing COVID19 cases and the Delta variant still rampant, it would be remiss to send children back in classrooms at full capacity, especially since there is still no authorization or approval for COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12 and so many students remain vulnerable.

Pfizer and BioNTech only just announced that their vaccine is safe for children ages 5 to 11, and it could take a while for the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its use for that age group, according to NBC News.

In the first week alone, 812 COVID-19 cases have already been reported by the New York Department of Education, according to PIX 11. More than half of that number were students.

Over 370 classes were shut down because of COVID-19 and a school in East Harlem was forced to close and transition to online learning until Sept. 28, PIX 11 also reported.

Students and their families have undergone a lot in the past year and a half.

They have faced financial hardships that forced them to relocate or take on full-time employment to support their loved ones. Some endured familial hardships, watching as loved ones caught the virus or lost their lives to it.

Students and parents deserve one less thing to worry about when returning to in-person learning. They should be able to have peace of mind that schools will be completely safe for them to fully return to and that the good health of everyone entering school premises can be guaranteed.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that testing would be now conducted weekly; however, he also stated the quarantine guidelines for students who have tested positive.

“Under that guidance, when there is a positive case in a single classroom, the unvaccinated students in that classroom will not have to quarantine if, and only if, they have been masked and keeping at least 3 feet of distance,” according to NBC News.

The problem is the uncertainty of whether schools can maintain social-distance guidelines, especially in crowded schools.

“Since districts have not made any significant effort to reduce class sizes since COVID-19 began, not offering a remote learning option puts those students in the most crowded classrooms at greatest risk of contracting COVID and spreading it to their families and communities,” Jasmine Gripper, the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, said in the statement.

It is exciting for kids to be back in school and interacting with their peers and teachers, but school officials must remember that the pandemic is not over.

In the meantime, as the pandemic continues to be the top health concern of the nation, an online learning option should be available to New York City’s young students.