Mayor de Blasio, speaking of the school system, on Wednesday said, “I am adamant that based on everything we’re seeing now, we’ll be able to come back full strength in September.”
It’s pathetic that this could even be a question at this point. Pathetic that such a statement has to come with the qualifiers “I am adamant,” “based on everything we’re seeing now” and “we’ll be able.”
The statement should have been much simpler:
“All schools will be fully reopened in September. Period.”
But with the way things have been going since de Blasio rightly insisted on partially reopening schools last September, perhaps such a weakened statement was inevitable.
However, what this page, and thousands upon thousands of parents, would say is that based on what we’re seeing now we should come back full strength in April. It’s time to get middle and high school students back in the classroom. Even better than doing it in April, after Spring Recess, would be doing it March 15, a Monday that’s nearly the one-year anniversary of the school shutdown that took effect on Monday, March 16, 2020. We have every reason to reopen by then.
Teachers have been eligible to get the vaccine for more than two weeks. Children are much less susceptible than adults to severe Covid-19 and much less likely to spread it. The incidence of Covid in the schools is far lower than in the general community. The number of new cases has been rapidly declining, here and nationwide, as the holiday surge has come and gone. Now a surge of vaccines has been promised to the city — though still not what it should be and what it would have been if the previous presidential administration were more competent. More are on the horizon. Johnson & Johnson could begin shipping its single-shot vaccine, now on the cusp of approval, in just a few weeks, with 30 million doses for the country expected in April. Teachers should do all they can between now and then to get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, their union boss Michael Mulgrew says schools should not fully reopen until every teacher is vaccinated. But if they’re anything like healthcare workers, not all will want to. Does he believe they should be forced to? Or is he just floating another reason to never fully reopen schools without his say-so? Mulgrew simply wields too much power.
It’s time to end the suffering of kids who aren’t learning and families who aren’t functioning. They can’t wait for September. Students need to be back in school this spring.