Ready for School to Start? For Most Students, Not So Fast.

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It’s Friday.

Weather: Partly sunny, breezy and cooler, with a high from the mid-60s to near 70. Over the weekend, it’ll be sunny and crisp, with highs in the mid-60s.

Alternate-side parking: In effect today. Suspended tomorrow for Rosh Hashana. Read about the amended regulations here.

Parents, students, administrators and teachers were already waiting 10 days beyond the scheduled reopening date for New York City’s public schools to resume in-person learning.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that most of them will have to wait a little more.

The decision came only days before schools were set to open their doors on Monday, and led to frustration and anger for many of the people involved, especially parents, who now have to make arrangements for their children with little lead time.

[New York City will again delay start of in-person classes for most students.]

Here’s what you need to know about the new plan, and the rationale for it:

A phased reopening

In-person learning will resume in phases instead of all at once. Next Monday, pre-K and advanced special-needs classes will open; on Sept. 29, elementary schools will begin; and middle and high schools will start up on Oct. 1.

On Monday, many students will start the school year remotely, like those in most big cities around the country, which have opted to stick with online learning.

The phased approach is a dramatic, 11th-hour change from the original reopening plan, which we detailed earlier this week.

“We are doing this to make sure that all the standards we’ve set can be achieved,” Mr. de Blasio said on Thursday.

The rationale

Mr. de Blasio said he was persuaded to further delay reopening after a lengthy conversation with the heads of the teachers’ and principals’ unions and senior mayoral aides on Wednesday.

The mayor said one of the main reasons for the latest delay was an acute teacher shortage, an issue that had led the union leaders to warn for weeks that schools were not ready to reopen.

[How New York City’s plan to open schools fell apart.]

Mr. de Blasio did not elaborate on why he waited so long to recognize the gravity of the staffing issue, which arose because the city and the teachers’ union agreed that educators should not be required to teach both remotely and in person — so schools essentially need two sets of teachers.

The principals’ union estimated that the city could need as many as 10,000 educators; a Thursday report from the city’s Independent Budget Office put the number closer to 12,000.

Earlier this week, Mr. de Blasio announced that the city planned to hire 2,000 more educators, and on Thursday he said the city would add an additional 2,500.

The reaction

Many educators, parents and elected officials were furious about the delay, especially since it came with so little warning. Hundreds of principals had publicly beseeched the city for weeks to hold back in-person classes, only to hear about the delay on the news.

“I’m beginning to think this is part of a secret plan to mentally and emotionally break me,” Michael Perlberg, the principal of a middle school in Brooklyn, wrote on Twitter.

Some parents, many of whom now have to scrape together child care plans in a few days, were also upset.

“It is mid-September and there is still no plan on how to educate children,” said Natasha Capers, a parent who lives in Brooklyn, adding that putting off school even longer felt like “a punch in the gut.”

What’s next

At a news conference on Thursday, Mr. de Blasio did not exactly apologize to parents for the last-minute change of plans, though he said that he sympathized with them and appreciated their pragmatism.

“I think they understand we are going through a pandemic,” Mr. de Blasio said. “They understand that everyone is working nonstop trying to fix these really complex problems, and I know they will find a way forward.”

There is still a chance that in-person schooling could be canceled outright: Schools will close automatically if the city’s average coronavirus positive test rate reaches 3 percent.

The average positivity rate in the city has stayed around 1 percent or below for the last few weeks. But, Mr. de Blasio said, there is no guarantee that such a low average — and with it the latest plan for the school year — will endure.

“What I can guarantee is if we keep fighting back this disease, we start schools and we go from that point on and we never stop,” Mr. de Blasio said. “The one thing we all have to work on is to keep this disease at bay.”

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Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

What we’re reading

New York State’s comptroller released an audit charging that the city’s sanitation department is not keeping the streets as clean as it could, which the department disputes. [Daily News]

School Reopenings ›

Back to School

Updated Sept. 16, 2020

The latest on how schools are reopening amid the pandemic.

    • School starts Monday in New York City, the nation’s largest district with 1.1 million students. Here’s what you need to know.
    • The Big Ten conference plans to play football starting in October, reversing an earlier decision.
    • In one of the country’s worst college outbreaks, about 10 percent of the students at SUNY Oneonta became infected, forcing the campus to be shut down.
    • On the Daily: A college student’s experience in a quarantine dorm.

    New York police officers have been ticketing street food vendors, three months after the mayor said they would stop. [The City]

    The schools chancellor said that the hacking of a Brooklyn school’s remote learning class looked like an inside job. [NY Post]

    And finally: Your virtual social weekend

    The Times’s Melissa Guerrero writes:

    Although many performance spaces and community centers are closed, people are finding creative ways to connect through virtual events and programs. Here are suggestions for maintaining a New York social life this weekend while keeping a safe distance from other people.

    Food for Resilience: Trans-Atlantic lessons from community gardens and farms

    On Friday at 10 a.m., join community gardeners and urban farmers in New York and across the world in a conversation about how they’re responding to the pandemic, how to build solidarity in the neighborhood and how they contribute to food security.

    R.S.V.P. for the free event through the event page.

    Virtual special express writers anthology

    Attend a free creative writing workshop for adults with disabilities on Friday at 11 a.m. The class will focus on nonfiction writing and will include a discussion of the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

    Call (718) 365-5516 to sign up for the workshop.

    Field trip: Constellations

    On Friday at 1 p.m., stargaze and learn about the constellations. Join the American Museum of Natural History’s director of astrovisualization, Carter Emmart, and the astrophysicist Jackie Faherty for a tour of the night sky.

    Access the free livestream on the museum’s YouTube channel.

    It’s Friday — look up.

    Metropolitan Diary: Broken glass

    Dear Diary:

    I was visiting a friend who lived in the West Village. After she went to work, I wandered down Waverly Place to an outdoor cafe.

    Sipping a cappuccino, I knocked my water glass onto the sidewalk. I apologized profusely as the server swept up the broken glass.

    From there, I took the subway to the Bronx Zoo. When I got there, I wept while I watched the gorillas behind glass walls.

    Later I walked to Arthur Avenue and went into a restaurant. It was after lunch but before dinner. I felt a little melancholy eating a bowl of pasta and then a tiramisù in an otherwise empty dining room.

    When the server brought me the check, she knocked over a glass. It shattered across the floor.

    “It’s OK,” I told her. “I did that exact same thing this morning.”

    She brought me two Band-Aids. I stretched one over a tiny cut on my leg and put the other in my pocket.

    Later, in the subway station, a man approached me, his palm extended. I could see that his hand was bleeding.

    “Do you have a Band-Aid?” he asked.

    — Stacey Solie

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