After two delays to the start of in-person classes for most students, hundreds of thousands of children will finally stream back into school buildings this morning and later this week.
Elementary school students will start in-person classes today — returning to school buildings for the first time since March 13 — while middle and high schools are set to reopen on Thursday.
Up to 90,000 of the city’s youngest students and children with advanced disabilities already returned to classrooms last week, as other students attended their first day of classes remotely.
There were a few hurdles: a login page for remote learning crashed for about 10 minutes, some parents were left scrambling for child care options, and a number of students were turned away at school doors after showing up on the wrong day.
New York City is the only major school district in the country restarting in-person classes this month, a task that has been plagued by intense political opposition and serious logistical hurdles. The union representing the city’s principals said on Sunday, for example, that it had lost confidence in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to reopen schools and called on the state to seize control of the school system from the mayor.
Regardless of whether children go for in-person learning or take classes exclusively online, schooling will look radically different for all of the city’s 1.1 million students this fall.
Nine students will sit at desks six feet apart in classrooms that used to hold 30 children. Gyms, cafeterias and auditoriums will be largely off limits. Some schools are also making use of outdoor space, from playgrounds to adjoining streets and sidewalks. And, if all goes according to plan, students and staff members will not see each other in person without masks for many months to come.
Almost no students will attend school five days a week. Instead, children taking in-person classes will report to classrooms one to three days per week and learn from home the rest of the time.
Nearly half of families across the city have opted out of in-person classes for their children altogether through at least November, a statistic that reflects both the pervasive fear felt by many city parents and skepticism of the city’s reopening plan.
At many schools, finding ways to make buildings feel welcoming and safe for students who have been away for six months is a complex challenge for principals. The reopening is exceptionally difficult for schools like P.S. 9 in Brooklyn, which lost a teacher, Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, to the coronavirus.
During the first period at P.S. 9, every teacher will ask their students how they’re feeling, and if there’s anything they want to share. Children will also be asked to take short breaks for movement and meditation. The principal, Fatimah Ali, told my colleague Eliza Shapiro that she has created a team to oversee students’ mental health needs.
Research suggested that racial disparities in death rates from the coronavirus among New Yorkers might be influenced by differences in how long people took to seek care. [Gothamist]
Complaints of missed trash pickups are surging as sanitation workers struggle to keep up with an increase in waste across most of the five boroughs. [The City]
New York State’s moratorium on evictions was extended to the end of the year. [NBC 4 New York]
The art dealer David Zwirner has hired Ebony L. Haynes, a gallerist who is Black, as the director of a new exhibition program and commercial gallery space in Manhattan, for which she plans to employ an all-Black staff.
“While you could argue that strides have been made on the artist side, the art world acts almost shamefully on the employment side,” Mr. Zwirner said, speaking of equal opportunities for people of color. “Something has to happen.”
Mr. Zwirner said he began talking in January with Ms. Haynes, a former director at Martos Gallery on the Lower East Side, about becoming a director at his Chelsea gallery. But when Ms. Haynes described her vision for a kunsthalle with an all-Black staff, Mr. Zwirner said, he decided to give Ms. Haynes her own separate space.
He said he wanted the space to attract more young people of color into the professional pipeline, a problem museums have so far addressed more actively than commercial galleries.
Ms. Haynes said she expects the gallery to open sometime next spring and to feature about four exhibitions per year, with each accompanied by a publication. Its name, location and initial exhibitions have yet to be determined, but Ms. Haynes said she was excited about the possibilities.
“There aren’t enough places of access — especially in commercial galleries — for Black staff and for people of color to gain experience,” she said. “I want to make sure that I provide a space full of opportunities and encourage them.”
One day in January, near the turnstile at the exit of the 125th Street subway station, something caught my eye: a sepia-toned photograph that showed what looked like three siblings sitting on a davenport.
The photo was dated December 1941. On the back were the children’s names and ages: Peter, 6; Emily, 3; and Thomas, 8.
They were in their Sunday best. Peter was wearing short pants and wire-frame glasses. He had a mischievous grin and was looking toward his older brother. Emily, a lovely bow holding her hair back, had the wary look of a girl who might at any moment be pranked by one or both her brothers. Thomas, handsome in knickers, looked directly into the camera. He appeared impatient, like he wanted to get away from the little kids.
The parents’ names, Philomena and Edwin, were on the back as well. After an unsuccessful session with Ancestry at the library, I plugged Peter’s full name into Google and found his obituary. I learned that he had been preceded in death by his brother Thomas and survived by his sister Emily, whose married name was included.
I Googled Emily and learned that she lived in a small town in Colorado. Finding her address, I sent her a copy of the photo, with a note asking, “Is that you in the middle?”
I was rewarded with a beautiful note in return. The photo, she told me, had been taken by her father.
She and her brothers, she wrote, had grown up in Onalaska, Wis., and she had loved that davenport. Now she lived near her son and a lake, and she had a view of the Rockies. I told her I had grown up in Stuyvesant Town, lived in Riverdale and had a view of the Hudson.
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News – Elementary Students in N.Y.C. Return to Classrooms After 6 Months