In celebration of the first day back to in-person school, Mayor Bill de Blasio, first lady Chirlane McCray and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza paid a visit to the Mosaic Pre-K Center in Elmhurst on Monday, Sept. 21.
“This morning, the chancellor and I, and the first lady, we were given the opportunity to see pure joy, pure hope, pure possibility at the Mosaic Pre-K Center in Elmhurst, Queens, to see kids ready to get into that school and see their friends and get all the blessings of a pre-K education,” de Blasio said during his morning briefing. “Teachers, educators, staff, everyone [was] ready to go, ready to serve those kids and families, excited to get back to work the way they know works best, right there in person with kids, parents feeling such excitement as well.”
In March, Elmhurst emerged as the epicenter of the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, 90,000 students returned to in-person schooling. The Department of Education announced 54 percent of students opted for their blended learning.
Officials reported 734 school buildings would reopen for live instruction along with 1,050 community-based early childhood education programs.
A few days before the start of the 2020-21 academic school year, the city announced it will roll out a phased-in approach for students who opted to return to hybrid in-person classes.
Students in pre-K, 3-K and District 75 schools (which serves the city’s disabled students), returned to school buildings on Sept. 21. Students in K-5 and K-8 grade schools will now return to buildings on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Middle school, high school, secondary, transfer and adult education students will go back to their physical classrooms on Oct. 1.
But calls for a delay to in-person classes until it’s safe for educators, students and their families persist. Teachers are also concerned about staffing shortages due to the blended remote and in-person models, but the city and UFT have reached an agreement to hire 2,600 more instructors.
During his Monday press conference, de Blasio spoke about how he witnessed the 4-year-old students wear their “masks with no problem at all.”
“The chancellor and I have had the pleasure of going to opening day many times, and this is probably one of the best days of the year, maybe the best day of the year, but this year was special,” de Blasio said. “This year was powerful because we’ve had to overcome so much. The first time our kids are going back into a school building in large numbers since the middle of March, and to see those children so engaged, so happy to be there, it was truly inspiring.”