Schools (Sort Of) Set to Re-Open

As the month of August draws to a close, parents across New York are making plans for their children to begin school this fall. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated those plans. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given the green light for schools to re-open, but has left it up to individual districts to decide whether to pursue in-person schooling, remote schooling, or a hybrid approach that includes some in-person schooling and some remote schooling.

At this writing, public schools in New York have made varied decisions on how to re-open. Eight of the 10 largest school districts in New York have opted not to re-open for in-person instruction in September. New York City is using a hybrid approach, and Schenectady is allowing parents to choose between a remote option and a hybrid option. Some districts are waiting until mid-September to re-open in person, and Rochester schools are not scheduled to re-open in person until November 1.

On August 25, 2020, a group of New York teacher unions wrote an open letter calling on school districts to delay in-person re-opening. The unions argued that school districts do not have enough time to prepare for safe in-person re-opening, that some schools lack appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and air filtration systems, and that more federal government assistance is needed.

On the other hand, many non-public schools are re-opening in person this fall. According to Syracuse.com, public schools “are struggling to find the money and space to reopen to everyone safely,” but non-public schools, which generally have fewer students and more space,  “are able to offer an experience that is close to normal.”