After a year of learning interruptions, the city will offer in-person instruction with no remote option throughout the 2021-2022 school year. Roughly 69,000 students in South Bronx districts are expected to return on Sept. 13, leaving some parents concerned about their children’s safety. The Bronx was the hardest hit borough during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, Commissioner of Health of New York City Dr. David Chokshi and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter testified at an Education Committee hearing on safety protocols for the upcoming school year.
“We’ve leaned into what we know works best for students,” said Chancellor Porter on the city’s decision to not offer a remote learning option at the Education Committee hearing. “However, we recognize that there are families who have some concerns, which is why we looked into having an option for students who are medically fragile.”
For students who may be suffering from serious medical conditions, parents can apply for at home instruction. A parent or guardian must notify their child’s school guidance counselor to submit the proper documentation to apply.
During at-home instruction, a teacher visits the child in their home for an hour, sometimes more, per day for five days. The DOE recently expanded the program to cover a wider array of chronic conditions; however, asthma is not listed, which could be worrisome for Bronx parents as asthma rates are 40 times higher among children in the South Bronx than the rest of the city.
New York City public schools require masks for both students and teachers both inside the school building and outdoors on school grounds. Masks may be removed during lunchtime. For students who may not be able to wear a mask due to medical reasons, alternative accommodations will be provided, according to the DOE.
The DOE has set specific guidelines for quarantining and closure due to positive cases based on grade level. Elementary school students will quarantine for 10 days, while receiving remote instruction. Students who are at least 12 years old, vaccinated, and not showing symptoms will remain in school, but are encouraged by the DOE to take a COVID test three to five days after possible exposure.
If the student is at least 12 years old, vaccinated and showing symptoms, they will quarantine for 10 days and receive remote instruction. Unvaccinated students 12 and older will be instructed to do the same,
The DOE will require all teachers and school staff to be vaccinated with proof of first dose required by September 24. Mott Haven and Port Morris currently have a fully vaccinated rate of 48.79 percent, which is lower than the city median of 61.11 percent, according to NYC Data. Hunts Point is slightly lower with 44.46 percent being fully vaccinated.
As of now, students 12 and older will not be required to get the vaccine unless they are looking to participate in contact sports such as football, basketball, or lacrosse. The DOE is strongly encouraging students who are eligible for the vaccine to get vaccinated.
Classrooms will follow the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation of three feet of physical distance between students. The DOE notes that when three feet of distance is not possible, it’s important to layer multiple prevention methods, such as screening testing.
The same guidelines will be followed on school buses where possible, said Chief Schools Operations Manager Kevin Moran at the Committee on Education meeting earlier this month. “We are providing to the [bus] companies enhanced PPE and deep cleaning disinfection opportunities,” said Moran. “Everyone’s required to wear a mask. Busses will leave the roof hatch open for ventilation. We’ll leave the windows open.”
For more information on DOE guidelines, head over to the DOE website for a complete list of safety protocols. If you’re child is at least 12 years old, resources to get them vaccinated can be found on the city’s vaccine finder website or by calling 877-VAX-4NYC.