Outdoor learning draws safety concerns from parents, educators in the Bronx

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza have announced the use of school playgrounds, streets, and city parks for outdoor classes. However, about two dozen principals in the Bronx responded, sending a letter to the mayor and schools chancellor saying outdoor teaching was too dangerous.

Gloria Alfinez is among parents who are concerned about schools using outdoor spaces to teach in neighborhoods that have seen a wave of gun violence and drug use.

Alfinez asks, “How do we protect our children in public?”

Just this past weekend Priscilla Vasquez was shot dead in front of Public School 1 on East 152nd Street.

“They may be outside learning but if there's a stray bullet... then they're exposed once again,” Alfinez said.

Some city council members representing the Bronx are also against the plan.

“We've had high incidents of shootings, you often come across needles,” said City Councilmember Ritchie Torres.

“Unfortunately, they are not exaggerating about the conditions in that community," said Councilmember Diana Ayala.

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De Blasio says outdoor classrooms are not mandatory. 

“It's an option if a principal wants to use outdoor learning. It's not a requirement in the least,” de Blasio said.

The Bronx principals are arguing that they are out of options. They claim that it's too dangerous outside and health safety protocols are lacking inside school buildings.

“I respect all our educators but I just disagree,” de Blasio responded. “Clearly, principals can work within their school building to achieve what they need to.”