Fears of COVID-19 cases increasing among student populations led parents in Brooklyn, New York to protest as face-to-face schooling continues to be the norm in the city. There is no strictly enforced rule as districts are allowed discretion on the form of schooling perceived best for them dependent on the risks.
Parents, teachers, and students rallied in protest of in-person learning of the 1.1 million public school students in Brooklyn amidst the pandemic. The group of about 50 gathered outside the Adam Clayton Powell State Building on 125ᵗʰ St. in Harlem. The parents demanded Brooklyn Governor Andrew Cuomo to close schools in the city.
New York Coronavirus Cases on the Rise
The parents' concern is mainly on the rise of COVID-19 cases across the five boroughs. Previously, Mayor de Blasio launched blended learning (a mix of in-person and virtual learning). This was done in September after postponing the start of the semester in the fall twice.
However, as COVID-19 cases began to rise, schools in New York were closed for three weeks in November. Now, in-person learning has resumed for students from pre-school to 3-K and elementary. Classroom instruction commences five days a week. Meanwhile, middle and high schools are yet to open next year.
Parents, Teachers, and Students Raise Concerns
Pamela Stewart, a parent advocate shared how she believed the government is "playing Russian roulette with our children." Another parent said, "only those who don't want to deal with their children at home would want to keep them in school."
The parents are taken aback by the decision to close restaurants in the city, but in-person learning continues. Before Thanksgiving, Governor Cuomo ordered the suspension of indoor dining in Brooklyn, NY Daily News reported.
Teachers are concerned that keeping schools open could lead to disastrous consequences amid the pandemic. Even students revealed worries about returning to face-to-face schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic. High school sophomore Tyler Johnson revealed his fears of bringing the virus home. The teen further revealed his dad had contracted the disease
Brooklyn Governor Responds
A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo revealed that COVID-19 rates in the city's schools are low. "It appears the children are safe in classrooms," revealed Cuomo's spokesperson.
As of this writing, COVID-19 patients filled around 1,668 hospital beds in Brooklyn. This amounts to 31 percent of related hospitalizations in New York, NY Daily News reported.
The CDC on the Schooling of Children Amid Pandemic
The CDC supports the prioritization of the reopening of schools safely but quickly. It continues to study the benefits of in-person schooling versus the risks of COVID-19 while students stay in schools.
In-person learning that resumed in other countries showed low risks of COVID-19 infection among school-aged children. However, it is important to keep in mind that these are in areas with low community transmission.
The CDC advised school officials to consider the levels of community transmission when deciding to reopen. Further, when schools opt not to reopen, potential adverse impacts should be considered. These include mental health, social, emotional, and behavioral impacts, CDC revealed.
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