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Schools across the Big Apple welcomed back some 51,000 students to the classroom Monday after they spent more than a year away amid the COVID-19 crisis — and the parents are just as thrilled as their kids.
“I was looking forward to today a little more than she was, to be honest,” Priscilla Rodriguez, a medical assistant at NewYork-Presbyterian hospital, said as she dropped off her 8-year-old daughter, Lylah, at PS 203 in Queens.
The third grader had been learning entirely from home since the start of the pandemic last year — but switched to in-person learning as part of the Department of Education’s most recent opt-in period.
“She was a little nervous this morning, she said, ‘It’s been a really long time,’” Rodriguez said about her daughter. “But she wanted to see her teacher and her friends.”
David Yoou, 33, who also brought his 6-year-old daughter Abigail back to school for the first time since the beginning of the health crisis, said his tot was “very excited to get out of the house.”
“My wife is very excited too,” Yoou, a chef, said smiling. “My wife has been handling everything, the remote learning, everything at home … My wife is excited, she just wants her own time.”
Little Abigail exclaimed, “I’m happy to see my friends,” before she went bouncing into the building.
The principal of the Springfield Boulevard school said that 70 students there had opted back into in-person learning Monday.
With the addition of the students who returned to schools across the city Monday, there are now 359,000 pupils taking advantage of in-person learning, according to DOE stats.
There are about 1 million students in the entire city public school system – the nation’s largest — and the vast majority of them will remain on a remote-only learning basis for the rest of the school year.
The latest opt-in window for in-person classes came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its coronavirus safety guidance on social distancing in schools, recommending that students be separated by at least 3 feet instead of 6 feet.
Only the city’s preschools and elementary schools have adopted the 3-foot rule.
Earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio changed the DOE’s controversial COVID-19 school closure protocol so that it takes at least four positive coronavirus to temporarily close a city school.
Previously, the DOE shuttered buildings with only two or more unrelated infections.
Additional reporting by Selim Algar
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