Thousands of New York City high school students have returned to the classroom for in-person learning for the first time since last year after they were shuttered due to COVID-19.
About 55,000 high schoolers, which is about 20 percent, resumed in-person classes this morning at nearly 500 high schools across the five boroughs.
The returning students in the country’s largest school district will be joined by about 17,000 staffers for classes five days a week.
High school sports are scheduled to start up again next month with strict safety protocols in place, including no crowds.
The majority of NYC high school students, however, will continue online learning for now.
About 55,000 high schoolers resumed in-person classes this morning at nearly 500 high schools across New York City’s five boroughs on Monday morning
Students wait to go through a temperature check point at James Madison High School in Brooklyn on Monday morning after returning for in-person classes for the first time in four months
Principal Jodie Cohen gives a mask to a student at James Madison High School in Brooklyn as she greeted students returning for in-person classes
Some students haven’t been in the classroom since schools were first shut in March last year when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit.
Just weeks after reopening for the first time late last year, New York City shut down schools again in mid-November due to surging COVID-19 infections.
The district has been gradually bringing students back to classrooms, starting with the youngest students in December and followed by middle school students last month.
New York’s new Education Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter greeted returning students at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice this morning.
‘With a 0.57 positivity rate, our schools are the safest place to be, and we are ready to re-open schools for our high schoolers,’ Porter said.
As part of the reopening plan, a random selection of students and teachers will undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
About 20 percent of every school’s population is tested monthly.
The same measures have already been in place for the city’s elementary and middle schools.
Students are get ready to go through health checks at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn on Monday
James Madison High School’s principal Jodie Cohen waits to greet students returning for in-person classes for the first time
About 55,000 high schoolers resumed in-person classes this morning at nearly 500 high schools across the five boroughs. Pictured is James Madison High School principal Jodie Cohen greeting her students on Monday
Some students haven’t been in the classroom since schools were first shut in March last year when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit
As part of the reopening plan, a random selection of students and teachers will undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. About 20 percent of every school’s population is tested monthly
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said testing has become the guarantor to opening schools.
‘There’s no excuse to not offer in person learning at this point,’ de Blasio told CBS This Morning.
‘We’ve proven that you can create health and safety standards that work in any classroom.’
De Blasio is aiming to reopen all New York City schools five days a week by September.
He revealed on Friday that about 40,000 NYC teachers had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Twenty seven per cent of New York City adults have received at least one vaccine shot, and 13 per cent have received both, according to the city’s health department data.
The reopening of schools comes as 25 of the city’s zip codes show a COVID-19 positivity rate of 10 per cent or more.
New variants that could be more virulent than the original now emerging in the city also could be contributing to the spread of the virus, health experts have warned.
Mark Levine, a City Council member and chair of the New York City health committee, said on Sunday that the last time the city had such rates of positive tests was shortly before the winter surge in cases.
Students at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn are greeted by staff on their first day back for in-person classes
School officials welcome students and screen their health at James Madison High School in Brooklyn on Monday
De Blasio is aiming to reopen all New York City schools five days a week by September
NEW YORK CITY CASES: The number of infections across NYC have been steadily declining since a holiday season surge late last year
‘This time we have vaccination on our side…and variants working against us,’ he said. ‘It adds up to a tenuous situation for a the next few weeks.’
Staten Island, southern Brooklyn, and parts of the Bronx and Queens were hardest-hit. Manhattan was comparatively spared when it came to the hardest-hit areas of the five boroughs.
A Brooklyn resident with no travel history was listed on Saturday the first person in New York City to have a confirmed case of the Brazilian variant of COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said.
The Brazilian variant is considered more contagious than the first version of the coronavirus. There is a possibility current vaccines will not be as effective against it as earlier virus variants.
Meanwhile, Dr Scott Gottlieb has warned that a New York variant of COVID-19 could reinfect survivors of the virus and people who have been vaccinated.
The former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner spoke to CBS’ Margaret Brennan on ‘Face the Nation’ about the variant known as B.1.526 and said it is not yet known where it is causing an increase in cases in parts of New York City.
He warned: ‘What we don’t understand with 1.526 is whether or not people are being re-infected with it and whether or not people who might have been vaccinated are now getting infected with it.
‘The question is whether 1.526 is responsible for some of the increases that we’re seeing in New York right now and whether this is the beginning of a new outbreak inside the city.’