NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio is confident that New York City will meet a revised timeline to bring public school students back to classrooms within the next two weeks, following closures because of the coronavirus pandemic, he said Friday.
“I feel very confident about that date,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
De Blasio on Thursday delayed the reopening plan for the nation’s largest school district for the second time since it was announced in July, citing a shortage of staff and supplies.
Unions representing the city’s teachers said it wouldn’t have been safe to open all the school sites next week.
Under the revised timeline, most elementary school students will return to in-person learning starting Sept. 29, while middle and high school students will do the same Oct. 1.
De Blasio told aggrieved parents calling into his weekly public radio appearance that restarting in-person learning was “a greater challenge than anyone foresaw.”
De Blasio told MSNBC that he needs “the health care situation to cooperate” to make the schools plan work but that he was confident because of how well New York has fought to keep the virus at bay, such as through social distancing and wearing of masks.
The unions had pressed for more staff, as well as additional protective equipment and other supplies to protect against the virus. De Blasio promised Thursday to hire 2,500 more teachers in addition to the 2,000 additional teachers he had previously announced.
He told MSNBC the city will use substitute teachers, student teachers and adjunct professors from the city university system to fill staffing needs.
New York City is planning for the majority of its more than 1 million public school students to be in the classroom one to three days a week and learning remotely the rest of the time. Early childhood education and special education students will return to in-person learning next week, de Blasio said.