NEW YORK - "We've got one plan, one plan," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference Thursday. "Let's be really clear: All kids back to the classroom."
We could probably end this story right there, with the mayor's quick refute of any suggestion the city might now -- as the Delta variant continues to spread -- even consider a remote-learning option for those students younger than 12 who don't yet qualify for the vaccine.
"No," he said, "we are not."
Two parents at a playground at 67th St. and 1st Ave., Thursday afternoon, applauded the mayor for pushing forward with the city's in-person -- and in-person only -- schooling plan this year.
"I would like them to go back to school, five days a week, full time," one mother of a five-year-old and an eight-year-old said.
"I think it's more about her social skills and not being able to develop them being at home," the father of a three-year-old said.
"There are parents who are concerned about returning in September," Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said.
Brewer worries those concerned parents might elect to keep their kids at home, denying them an education.
"We can't just say, 'sorry, you have to be there' if they're not going to be there," she said.
Brewer wrote a letter to the city's department of education chancellor asking her to reconsider the lack of a school-from-home option this year. City Council Education Committee Chairman and former teacher Mark Treyger has also expressed his support for remote learning this fall.
"It is not healthy in any sense for our kids to be out of the classroom," de Blasio said Thursday.
According to the CDC, the United States set a new seven-day record for children hospitalized with this coronavirus, in the first week of August----likely because of the vast increase in total pediatric cases and not because Delta's making kids more sick, per the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"We can do this safely," de Blasio said. We did it safely even when we didn't have vaccination."
The mayor promised to follow up between Thursday and the beginning of school next month with the temporary solution the city arrives at to educate students who test positive and miss multiple days of school. While the mayor said the city had not made additional preparations this summer for more widespread remote learning, he referenced the city's ability to implement it overnight for a snow day as evidence it could pivot quickly if the pandemic forced a policy change.
"Plan A is Plan A," de Blasio said.
"We need a Plan B," Brewer said, "and Plan B should have a remote option."
The New York State Education Department's reopening guidance, released Thursday afternoon, says schools should be prepared to offer remote instruction.