While New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he "anticipates" bringing students back to middle and high school for in-person learning this year despite their not being any plans to do so.
When asked if schools will be open and what the target date for middle and high schoolers return is, de Blasio said that "I do anticipate they'll be coming back this school year. As I said yesterday we're about to go into February, we'll put the plan on the table for middle school."
De Blasio spoke about the need for vaccinations and testing capacity for schools, and that this would be a factor in the reopening plans for the older grades.
Middle and high school students have been out of school since the entire school system shut down on March 16, 2020. There have been no plans to bring them back to school so far. Administrators and city officials have focused on how to bring elementary school students back, and has undertaken a "blended learning" model, where kids go into school some days during the week.
New York City is still the nation's largest school system, but where as it started the pandemic with 1.1 million students, that enrollment number is now down by 4 percent. Approximately 43,000 students have left the system since the beginning of the pandemic. There are now closer to 960,000 students in New York City's public schools.
According to Chalkbeat, a report released on Wednesday showed the declining enrollment numbers. With in-person learning suspended as of March 16, 2020, and kids not even allowed back into the classroom until late September, well past the traditional term start date, many parents took their kids out of the system entirely.
Families left town, others enrolled their students at charter or private schools, while still others opted to home school altogether, since that's basically a cleaner version of what is offered by remote learning. What this means, according to Chalkbeat, is that one in four NYC public schools lost 10 percent of their enrollment or more.
Most of these losses were in the youngest grades, as pre-school enrollment dropped. Kindergarten enrollment dropped by nine percent. Elementary school enrollment fell by six percent across the board.
Education funding in New York is tied to enrollment, and the city is already shrinking school budgets if they don't have enough kids to fill all the spaces in their schools.
However, much of the Biden "open schools in 100 days" plan has to do with a huge increase in spending, not less. Much of his new education secretary's background is in critical race theory and identity politics. He and his administration have called for full building retrofits, increased staffing, and additional demands that were made by the nation's largest union, the National Education Association.
Biden's plan has no provision for middle and high school students either, instead focusing on elementary school students.
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