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Questions Abound As COVID-19 Cases Soar And New York City And New Jersey Schools Set To Welcome Students Back

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With the Delta variant spreading quickly and coronavirus cases rising, there are concerns as students prepare to begin a new school year.

As it stands right now, most children heading back to the classroom will do so without the option to learn from home.

CBS2's Hazel Sanchez has more on what schools are doing to prepare for a safe return.

Rising senior Dior Dorsey returned to the classroom at New Dorp High School on Staten Island on Tuesday, not for a lesson in science but to show her trust in science, by getting a COVID-19 shot.

"I am glad I got it... long overdue," the 16-year-old said.


New Dorp High School is one of the summer rising sites where the city is offering free COVID vaccines to students and staff and their families.

"Not everyone is going to be vaccinated. There's a chance that I can still get it," Dorsey said.

City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter and Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Danny Stephens went to the school to answer community questions and encourage students to get vaccinated, even though it's not required for in-person learning.

"My question is, will vaccination be required for students to participate in PSAL sports activities?" one student asked.

"Um, yeah, yes," Porter said. "We want you to be able to participate freely and safely in activities."

While the city touts transparency in talking about its back-to-school COVID safety plans, the Department of Education would not allow Chancellor Porter to answer press questions at Tuesday's event.

Remote learning is not an option in city schools. The DOE has yet to release its quarantine plan should a student get coronavirus.


In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy is requiring students mask up for full-time in-person learning, with no remote option. However, he said he's leaving it up to each school district to decide what to do if someone contracts COVID.

"It will be like, God forbid the kid was home for some other malady. Districts and schools have had plans to deal with that, and they will in this case as well," Murphy said.

Parents like Christina Silva said with new variants surfacing, they're getting their children vaccinated to lower the risk of getting sick and having to figure out a plan B.

"I'm happy to get him vaccinated because with Delta now? Delta kill you fast," Silva said.

It's a frightening potential consequence for families who worry about sending their children back to school.

The city will be offering free COVID vaccines at select school sites until Aug. 28.

Editor's note: This story first appeared on August 10.

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