The long-awaited announcement of how school will resume in September came Wednesday, and it’s a doozy. Parents who were wondering what the heck their families’ lives will look like come fall probably will not feel any closer to knowing after hearing about the plan.
Like the old Facebook line about your relationship, “It’s complicated.” In some schools, one group of students will go to class the same two days every week and every other Monday. Another group will do the same, on the alternating days. In other schools, there will be three groups of kids, and every third week, one of them will only be in the building on one day. There’s also a third plan. And they all depend on how many children go to a given school, how much capacity it has, so that everyone can remain 6 feet socially distant.
But is that truly necessary? Massachusetts plans to reopen schools with desks only 3 feet apart if necessary. And Michigan apparently isn’t planning to require social distancing in the classroom at all.
There are certainly no easy answers. And New York City plans to allow children to continue learning entirely online, without coming to school at all, if that’s what their families want.
So if a parent can stay home, great — except that it’s well-known that distance learning has been extraordinarily difficult for many families. But would telling your employer you can only work two days a week, sometimes three, be any better? Mayor de Blasio says the city will be working over the coming weeks to “figure out more in terms of child care” and “find other ways to help” parents who have to get to work. That doesn’t sound all that encouraging. What “other ways”?
Over all this looms Gov. Cuomo, who won’t yet even commit to reopening the schools in September. As usual during the virus crisis, de Blasio made a declaration (“Schools will be opening in September”) and Cuomo termed it the mayor’s “opinion.” Albany and City Hall both say they’re working very hard on this. No doubt they are. But more details and visible evidence of cooperation would go a long way toward easing parents’ minds.