New York City public schools, the largest school system in the United States, has postponed the start of school for more than 1 million students amid pressure from a teachers union, which said there was not enough time to ready educators and school buildings to teach students safely during the pandemic.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he had reached a deal with the unions representing teachers, principals and food workers to delay reopening for nearly a week, beginning virtual classes for all students on Sept. 16 and in-person classes for some students five days later. School was originally slated to start Sep. 10. Students were given the option of full-time remote classes or a hybrid model – returning to school part-time but taking classes virtually the rest of the time. About 37 percent of students have opted for the all-virtual classes. de Blasio’s decision came after increasing pressure from the United Federation of Teachers, whose members threatened to strike or take the city to court if the mayor fell short of meeting their health and safety demands.
The city’s school system faces a number of challenges, including ensuring that classrooms have adequate ventilation and staggering attendance to allow for social distancing. The city was also still working through how teachers would provide both in-person and virtual instruction.
NYC was once the nation’s epicenter of the pandemic, and has lost more than 19,000 people to Covid-19.
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