As one of the many parents that have opted to send their children back to the classroom despite the coronavirus pandemic, State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside and The Rockaways) welcomed the delayed start to the school year. The extra time will help schools and families better prepare for the challenges posed by the pandemic, he said. Each situation is different and the city only has one chance.
“It’s about getting it right,” said Addabbo, a member of the senate’s education committee. “As a parent, I have concerns. And as an elected, I have similar concerns.”
Facing pressure from the teachers and principals unions which were threatening to strike, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that New York City public schools will be delaying the start of in-person learning until September 21. The hope is that the delay will give teachers and schools more time to prepare for teaching remotely and for the teachers and other school employees to be trained in health and safety protocols for the days when the students who opted into the hybrid model come to class.
For Addabbo and his wife, sending their two daughters back to school during the pandemic was about finding the balance between education and safety. How could they make sure their daughters, a middle schooler and a high schooler, got a good education while staying safe from the coronavirus? The answer to them was the hybrid model.
Both daughters will be going to their classrooms two days a week and tuning in from home on their computers for the other three. Their daughters understand that on the two days they go to school, they need to take the proper precautions to prevent contracting and spreading the virus such as wearing their masks, washing their hands, and social distancing, he said.
“They are also understanding of the danger,” Addabbo said about his two daughters. “We’re in uncharted territory.”
To prevent a spike in cases throughout the city, students, teachers and other staff in the schools qualify for priority testing at 34 sites across the city and will receive their results within 24-48 hours. Also, once a month starting in October, schools will be required to test a random sampling of 10-20% of the students and staff who will physically be in schools.
Whether or not schools reopening will cause an increase in the spread of the coronavirus in the city is everybody’s fear, he said.
“We’re going to be holding our breath from the moment schools open,” he said. “I’m sure that’s the feeling of any parent,”
And at the first sign that school is no longer safe because of an increase in the virus, his daughters will attend remotely, he said.