How Anxious Are Parents?

PROVO, UT - MAY 18: Caution tape blocks hallways as a parent and her children come to pick up their personal belongings and check them out of school for the year at Freedom Preparatory Academy on May 18, 2020 in Provo, Utah. Freedom Academy an elementary school was closed on March 16, 2020 along with all other school in Utah due to the order of the Utah Governor due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

On a recent MSNBC “Morning Joe” segment, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city’s schools will not be fully open until a vaccine is available. He also stated that his decision on even a partial reopening of the schools won’t likely happen until at least September with limited classes for students. 

This would be one of the more aggressive steps the city has taken, since his last statement where he previously promised a schedule where schools would be open in the fall. A public poll from the Department of Education found that 75% of parents were in full support of partial or full re-opening of the schools. The time needed to prepare for that is all but impossible since the plan was aligning with public opinion. 

DeBlasio’s decision will impact more than 1.1 million students in NYC’s educational system. Teachers from the NYC Teachers Union have also declared that they will fight anything regarding the reopening action steps that they do not like. 

Already 4% of teachers, 3,000 total, have filed for medical accommodations so they don’t have to return to class, but that number is expected to grow with the weeks to come. They are preparing to take court action, protest, and possibly go on strike if they don’t like the way things are done. 

All of these things come despite recent flattening of the numbers of deaths and cases in New York City. City parents won’t know if schools will reopen but are cautioned that circumstances could shift given the nature of the pandemic.

“The day we get to the vaccine is the day we’ll really go to full, five-days-a-week normal instruction in our schools,” DeBlasio said. 

NY officials have underestimated the rage from parents and educators fighting for in-person instruction, nor do they plan adequately enough. I’ll place a bet that August will be a very long month of much delayed stakeholder input and political calculations. They could’ve worked on plans since April but have clearly waited until the last minute. 

The officials have not thought to prepare for going full remote in time for employers and employees to provide child care options. Parents are getting anxious to create student/teacher schedules and it shows. 

March was a mess for the educators as they had no training and support on handling remote learning. The Mayor is clearly without a plan as everything he touches results in disaster. How children learn and develop with the proper educational tools will be based entirely on when DeBlasio ever decides to make a permanent decision which, if we know his track record, will probably be September 1st.