A group of Bronx parents and city teachers rallied in lower Manhattan Wednesday for a remote schooling option this fall.
Parents say they still have safety concerns with an uptick in city coronavirus cases from the Delta variant and limited vaccination among city kids, and don’t trust city officials to safely manage the influx of returning students.
“How dare you think you know better for our children than we do. How dare you think you can keep our children safer than we can,” said Farah Despeignes, a Bronx mom and president of the Bronx Parent Leaders Advocacy Group, the coalition that organized the rally.
“For decades, the New York City Department of Education has not solved the problems of Bronx students. Why would it be different in the middle of a pandemic?” she continued.
City education officials said the move would jumpstart students’ academic and emotional recovery after a bruising school year. They cited data showing that virus transmission stayed extremely low in school buildings last year and citywide progress beating back the virus with the inoculations.
But with vaccination rates slowing, the youngest kids still ineligible for the shots, and the Delta variant spreading, some education advocates have re-upped calls for a fall remote option.
City Council Education chair Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) said on Monday the “DOE should offer a fall remote option for kids not of vaccination age.”
Eduardo Hernandez, a Bronx dad who participated in Wednesday’s rally, said he’s concerned the city’s school COVID-19 mitigation measures won’t be as effective when buildings are more crowded.
City officials have said they plan to maintain a universal mask mandate in school buildings, despite new CDC guidance allowing schools to jettison masks for vaccinated kids and staff, and are planning to redouble efforts to encourage kids to get their shots.
Kids with significant medical concerns can apply to take classes from home.
“Here’s the bottom line... We need our kids back in school so they can get healing from everything they’ve been through,” Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday.