Public Schools Open Again Despite Continuing Pandemic

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo by Kevin Case

Students in elementary school returned to brick and mortar classrooms for the first time since the raging coronavirus pandemic shuttered them last March.

The return of 1.1 million students and 75,000 teachers to school in the largest school district in the United States has already been delayed twice. The return is being conducted in three waves. The first, which happened last week, involved pre-school children and some children with special needs. This week elementary school children are returning, and on Thursday middle school and high school students will return.

Yet, even as the students go back to in-person learning, the fear of another surge in coronavirus cases looms. The daily rate of positive tests for COVID-19 reached over 3% for the first time in months, with a rate of 3.25%. So far, the 7-day rolling average positivity rate is at 1.38%, but Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that if that rate reaches 3% he will close the schools again.

The New York school system has come up with a plan to try and keep kids and their families safe while also allowing them to have in-school experiences but creating a hybrid schedule. Pupils will be attending in-person classes only some days of the week, while the other days they will be learning on-line. That accounts for about 54% of students. The other 46% chose full-time leaning on-line.

Other large school districts have not brought their children back to school. Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest in the US, and Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, have both opted to keep kids learning remotely for the time being.


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)