NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — School’s out in America’s largest district— and parents were protesting Thursday in New York.
The abrupt switch to remote learning was not a surprise, but part of an accord struck between the mayor and the teachers union over the summer to shut schools down if the coronavirus infection rate reached 3-percent.
“School is still in session,” said NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, as parents demonstrated outside City Hall. “We are pivoting to remote instruction.”
Chanting “schools are safe,” a group armed with a 12-thousand name petition voiced its anger over the decision to keep gyms, restaurants and bars open while shuttering classrooms, noting that while the city has hit the 3-percent mark on a rolling 7-day average for Covid infections, the rate inside schools remains well under 1-percent.
“The risk of spread in schools is low,” parent Doug Schneider said to cheers from the crowd, “and the harm that we are doing to our children is high.”
Parents worry there’s not enough high-speed internet and devices like tablets and laptops to facilitate remote learning. Adequate child care is also a concern.
While some parents demand schools be reopened, teachers in many parts of the country have been fighting to get them closed.
The two unions that represent nearly every teacher in Rhode Island have been asking for distance learning through the holidays because of a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. Their counterparts in Chicago are criticizing a decision to begin reopening public schools in January.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio insists his administration is focused on keeping children safe. “We’ve got to fight back the second wave. Our schools have been safe— extraordinarily safe. We’ve got to keep it that way.”
On the question of keeping bars and restaurants open while schools close, Governor Andrew Cuomo says unless the curve goes back down, they’ll be next.