Aug. 24, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards is calling on the city to offer a remote learning option for public school students in the fall.
Richards penned a letter to NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter Monday urging her to offer a remote instruction option given the rise of the delta variant across the city.
The city will open classrooms for full in-person learning on Sept. 13, the first day of classes, and doesn’t plan to offer an online learning option at this point.
Richards noted that Queens students are particularly vulnerable to the highly-contagious delta variant given the fact that the borough has some of the most overcrowded schools in the five boroughs. He said his office has heard from many parents concerned over the lack of a remote option.
“Having a remote option would be prudent due to the current reality we are all unfortunately confronting,” he wrote in the letter. “Queens has some of the most overcrowded schools in the five boroughs, and it is concerning how schools can safely reopen for in-person learning.”
Richards said there is increased concern about young children contracting the virus amid the spread of the now-dominant delta strain. Children under age 12 are not eligible for any of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved in the U.S.
He also said the Department of Education (DOE) failed to collect input from parents when it made the decision to start school without a remote option. He condemned the fact that parents had no say in the decision.
“By the DOE concluding that no remote option is needed without actual parent engagement, I believe the sentiment sends the wrong message and potentially undermines the entire parent engagement process,” Richards wrote to Ross Porter. “Having a remote option is being pro-active and vital during this unprecedented time.”
Richards sent the letter to Ross Porter the same day Mayor Bill de Blasio announced all DOE staffers will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Teachers, principals, custodians, food staff and school safety officers will need to show proof that they have received at least one dose by Sept. 27.
Most student athletes — those who participate in what the city deems a “high risk” sport — are also required to get the shot.
The DOE didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the letter.