Watch CBS News

Debate Continues To Swirl About Return To In-Person Classes For All Public School Students This Fall

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The start of a new school year may still be about two months away, but that is not stopping the push to have a fully virtual option available for New York City school students.

As CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reports, September will be a big month for Lily, 5, and her mom Jennifer Rescalvo. Lily starts kindergarten and says she can't wait for the playground.

Jennifer says she's ready for full time in-person learning.

"She needs that interaction with other kids," she said.

"The plan is to get them back in action. I don't want to go through what I go through already last year," said parent Rafet Olian.

Olian needs a break, and 6-year-old Sami is excited to go back.


"I can see all my friends and read," Sami said.

"Our health care leadership has been very, very clear; our kids suffer when they are not in school," Mayor Bill de Blasio saidTuesday.

De Blasio said in-person learning will get students back on track with their education, offer support to heal post-pandemic, and provide the food so many New York City School students rely on. The mayor says there's enough room for all students to safely return to in-person learning.

"That three-foot rule is there now; we will make it work," he said. "We proved that our gold standard of health and safety measures works."

De Blasio added safety standards won't change, but circumstances have.

"A huge number of people have now been vaccinated. A much, much better environment than what we had to deal with last year," he said.

Despite the positive outlook projected by the mayor, the City Council education committee wants the DOE to "offer a fall remote option."

Council member and public school dad Ben Kallos says parents are asking for it.

"Whether they're tired of the back and forth of whether schools are opened or closed. Whether they're concerned for their safety or their children's safety - we need to offer parents what they're asking for," Kallos said.

"We can go remote if we need to," the mayor said.

De Blasio says students will have the devices necessary to make it happen, say on a snow day, but that's not the goal.

"The goal is to have every single child back in school," he said.

Even if a remote option is offered, all parents Murdock spoke to said they will send their kids back to the classroom.

"Everyone should have the option to just stay home if they want to, but I think it's also time to just try to get acclimated to the new world we're living in," said Upper West Side resident Leandra Estevez.

"I want them to socialize, be with people and grow up as normal kids," said Upper East Side resident Rocky Stanley.

"I think the Delta variant also adds a certain uncertainty to it," Upper East Side resident Mary Grace McEvoy said. "We'll see where we are in September."

"In a perfect world, they should go back," Ron McEvoy said.

"Somewhat looking forward to it," 16-year-old senior Ronald Memmett McEvoy said.

But it has been a long time since he's sat in the classroom full-time.

To ease uncertainty about returning to in-person learning, the DOE will be hosting open houses to allow parents to ask questions of principals and teachers.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.