NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As preschoolers and kindergarten through fifth grade students prepare to head back to school Monday morning, middle and high school students and their families were rallying outside City Hall on Sunday.
Still learning from home indefinitely, they were fighting for their right to return to the classroom, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.
"I worry that there will be hundreds of thousands of us all over the city who won't be ready for what comes next, and may remain a step behind for years to come," eighth grader Eliza Greenberg said.
"Students do not have an environment to learn," another person said.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza disagreed.
"The medical experts have said that we can still do this safely and it's worth the effort to have children in person as much as we can," Carranza said.
Nevertheless, the schools chancellor and the city said there's no reopening plan yet for sixth grade and up. For now, just the 190,000 preschool and elementary students who opted and signed testing consent or medical exemption will return to in-person learning. That's in spite of a seven-day rolling average positivity rate over 5% in the city, the highest number in several months.
Carly Maready's three children, especially second grader Sunny, are excited to go back.
"They're just like, 'We gotta go to school! We gotta go to school!" Maready said.
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But Maready and many other parents are also advocating for the return of older students, who, they worry, see no end to the isolation of remote learning.
"So much depression and mental health issues in these children," Maready said. "It's not fair for them to grow up so quickly when they can just be in school where it's safe."
"The safety measures in our bigger kids' schools were working just as well as our elementary schools, so we need to keep them open," parent Mia Eisner-Grynberg added.
Many teachers said they are still hesitant to return and are calling for weekly required COVID-19 testing of students and staff. Seventh grade teacher Sarah Kuhner said like most teachers she wants to be in the classroom, if its safe.
"The community spread and the rates are rising in the city and elsewhere and people have traveled and are gonna travel, so it's gonna be a really scary thing," Kuhner said.
Teachers union leadership, some teachers, principals, physicians and school nurses will be at Thurgood Marshall Lower School when children return Monday to tell parents they think it's safe to come back.
All involved hope they're right.
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