New York City is reopening its public high schools on Monday, transitioning some students back to in person learning, a year after schools first closed because of Covid-19 pandemic.
Most high school students in the nation’s largest school district will continue remote instruction. But 20% of the district’s enrollment, which is almost 55,000 students, grades 9 and 12 who previously opted for in-person learning are expected to return Monday.
Approximately half of the city’s high schools will be able to provide in-person learning 5 days a week to all or most of their students. High schools would follow the same protective measures that have been established for younger students who have returned to the classroom, like weekly random testing of students and staff, physical distancing and masks. Sports are also expected to return next month with restrictions.
Younger students have already had the opportunity to return to in-person classes: elementary schools reopened in December. Middle schooler returned late last month.
The push to reopen school for younger age groups occurred because they have struggled most with online learning and they appear to have the lowest rate of coronavirus spread.
The high school reopening occurs after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated guidance for children and schools. That included relaxing the physical distancing guidelines, recommending students maintain at least 3 feet of distance, as opposed to the previous 6 feet. The United Federation of Teachers, New York City’s teachers union sent an email to its members on Friday, consulting medical experts about the guidelines. The union group said the physical distancing rules would be extremely complicated to implement in New York City public schools.
After the release of the CDC’s updated guidelines Friday, Mayor de Blasio announced the city was preparing to allow more students to opt into in-person learning, with an initial focus on pre-K and elementary school students and that 40,000 educators had been vaccinated.
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