NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Nearly three-quarters of New York City students will return to public schools this fall, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
Watch: Mayor De Blasio Discusses Upcoming School Year
"This year is going to be different. We all know it," he said during his daily press briefing. "I'm going to say it now and I'll say it a lot of times in the coming months: We are up against a challenge, but it's not a challenge that's going to go on forever.
"At some point, likely in the course of this school year, there will be a vaccine, and that vaccine will be administered to kids and families all over New York City," he continued. "Then, we can start getting back to something more normal."
De Blasio said the Department of Education is addressing safety concerns, like hiring more nurses and coordinating with the city's test and trace program. He also said it's working on ventilation and being able to open windows in classrooms.
"If a classroom is not ready, that classroom simply will not be used. I want to affirm that to all parents," he said. "If any classroom we feel is not fit, we simply won't use it. We'll just segment it off and keep going until we do feel it's ready to go."
"Maintenance crews have been upgrading the ventilation and ventilation filters, and, as the mayor said, I want to double down on what the mayor said. If there is any classroom that is not fit, we will not use that classroom, i.e. why we're exploring alternate locations, as well," Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza added.
Carranza said 85%, or roughly 66,000, teachers will also return to campus, though the teacher union said in a statement to CBS2's Hazel Sanchez, "Many questions about safety and about blended learning are still unanswered."
Still, both the mayor and chancellor praised teachers, parents and students for their continued resilience.
They said families should start receiving their school schedules Monday.
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Parents and students are having their say as well.
Prudence DiBenedetto said making a decision about school for her daughter, sixth grader Abbey Weinberg, was simple.
"She did the remote learning and that was not something she really enjoyed. She didn't like it. She needs the one-on-one interaction. I plan on sending her back," DiBenedetto told Sanchez.
"I like actual school and, yeah, I'm ready to go back," Abbey said.
The remaining 26% of students are planning on fully remote learning, including 10th grader Caroline Almeda and her 8-year-old sister, Catherine Sanchez.
"Because it's safer, especially since my sister was born with one kidney. It could be very dangerous if she gets the virus," Caroline said.
"Sad, but also excited, because I can still learn and be with my friends," Catherine added.
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