Photo Credit: David Cohen / Flash 90

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the city would reopen the nation’s largest public school system in September, albeit with social distancing guidelines.

“We’re full steam ahead for September,” de Blasio said at one of his regular news briefings. The goal was to have “the maximum number of kids in our schools as we begin,” with all students, staff and teachers required to wear face masks and all facilities undergoing a deep cleaning each day.

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“We know the sheer logistical challenges with schools that were overcrowded before the coronavirus and now have to practice social distancing,” the mayor said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, had doubts; his spokesperson, Dani Lever, reminded reporters in a statement that such decisions are actually made by state government, and not on the local level.

“The state will consult the city’s parents, teachers, health officials and elected officials,” Lever said. “But the governor has said any determination is premature at this point.”

On Monday, Cuomo told reporters at a news briefing once again that he had not yet decided when schools might reopen, and said that decision would be made “when we get the data.

“There has been no decision yet as to whether or not we are reopening schools. We obviously very much would like to.”

However, he told NBC’s Meet the Press on June 28 that although the state is preparing to open schools, continuing outbreaks around the country could keep students “home for a long time.”

It appears that teachers, parents and lawmakers are all becoming more convinced that looking towards the safety of a blended model of online and in-person learning – even New York City’s mayor.

De Blasio announced Wednesday that New York City school students will likely be in classrooms only a few days a week this fall – if that — with the rest of their learning taking place online.

The mayor announced the city’s 1.1 million students will engage in “blended learning” when they return to school in September.

“Blended learning simply means at some points in the week you’re learning in person, in the classroom, at other points in the week you’re learning remotely,” de Blasio said. He added the plan for the public school system this fall will involve a hybrid approach of both in-person and remote learning and “intense” COVID precautions.

Most students are likely to be in school two or three days a week, he said, to assure social distancing and will learn via remote instruction on the other days, and class sizes are to be limited – although the mayor did not explain how that would be carried out.

School principals are to receive a slate of scheduling formats to evaluate for their schools – at least, for now.

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