NYC high schools to reopen March 22; all school sports to resume

New York City public high schools will reopen to in-person instruction beginning Monday, March 22, announced Mayor Bill de Blasio. All school sports will also resume in early April.

Approximately 55,000 high school students who have opted-in are expected to return to the classroom along with 17,000 staff members. The rest of the 282,000 students in those grades will continue to learn remotely.

"I'm grateful the teachers are getting vaccinated. I think that's been really important," parent Yasmin Khakoo said. "But I am also concerned about the students not receiving vaccine yet."

The Upper East Side mom isn't ready to let her 17-year-old daughter go back to school just yet.

"Think about what our kids have gone through. For the first time in generations, their lives entirely disrupted," de Blasio said. "Think about the kids who haven't seen their friends for a year, think about the kids who have been suffering emotionally."

Half of the city's approximately 500 high schools will open for in-person learning five days a week while the other half will offer hybrid instruction.

Calvin Wilson and his husband, Tim, welcome the news. They want nothing more than for their two kids, Grady and Cyrus, to return to a sense of normalcy. 

"I just had a conversation this morning and my daughter was like, 'I don't want to do it.' I was like, 'Well, we are going to do it' because she is preparing for college and I want her to get out and get into a pattern of just leaving the house and all that," Calvin said.

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All Public School Athletic League sports will be allowed to resume for all students through August, Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said.

The sports season will run through the summer this year, rather than ending with the school year. The student-athletes will be required to wear masks the entire time.

"We can't have big crowds. We have to protect everyone. This is about giving the kids a chance to participate," de Blasio said. "As things get healthier and healthier, the city will be able to open it up more."

As for Yasmin, while she's hesitant to send her daughter back for in-person classes, she's glad to have sports leagues back.

"I'm very excited about having sports re-open regardless of learning in-person versus hybrid," she said. "So I am going to focus her energy and our attempts to get her back to softball because that has been sorely lacking."

Weekly in-person COVID testing will continue for students, staff and, now, athletes, Porter said.

"With a .57 positivity rate, our schools are the safest place to be and we are ready to reopen schools for our high schoolers," Porter said.

High schoolers will join the thousands of middle school students who returned to their school buildings on Feb. 25. Elementary schools reopened on Dec. 7 

"We have all the pieces we need to bring high school back and to bring it back strong and to bring it back safely," de Blasio said.

The 488 public high schools have been closed since November when the city saw a surge in coronavirus cases.  

School staff will be returning to their buildings on March 18.

The school year ends June 25. De Blasio has vowed to open all schools five days a week when the next school year starts in September, though he has said he expects many families will still choose online learning because of coronavirus fears.

With the Associated Press