NEW YORK — While it’s still unclear if New York City public schools will reopen in September, charter schools and catholic schools are planning to reopen.
Miriam Raccah, the executive director for Bronx Charter School of the Arts, has been cranking out ways to safely reopen in September, for teachers, staff and about 600 of her elementary and middle school students.
“We worry about the kids who are homeless, who don’t live in an environment that is conducive to distance learning,” she said Thursday. “We”re still working to get them on par with kids from wealthy communities.”
While the charter school will be open five days a week, without a staggered schedule, it won’t be back to business as usual because there isn’t enough room for all students to be back in the building. Priority will be given to kindergarteners, first graders, sixth graders, students with disabilities and students who didn’t do well with remote learning in the spring.
The rest of the students will be learning remotely.
Inside the Bronx charter school, there will be daily temperature checks, mandatory masks, sanitizers, spaced out desks, desk shields, purifiers and pods, according to Raccah.
“We’re going to have to separate our kids into micro communities or pods," Raccah said. "They will go to the bathroom as a group, outside to play in a group. If someone in the group gets coronavirus, we would shut down the pod.”
Catholic schools in New York are creating a pod system too so that if a student does contract the coronavirus, the whole school doesn’t need to be shut down.
“We”re going to maintain the pod type structure to minimize students exposure to other classmates, people in the school,” said Michael Deegan,superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of NY. “If a kid has symptoms, not feeling well, they will be sent to an isolation room.”
While top educators for both charter and catholic schools admit the upcoming school year will not be as easy as ABC’s and 123’s, they say kids need it socially, emotionally and educationally.
“There’s nothing that replaces kids in the building with you,” Raccah said.
According to a news conference held by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio last week, the city will be monitoring all charter schools to make sure they’re following all health and safety guidelines.
As for NYC public schools, Friday, is the deadline for the city to submit reopening guidelines to the state.
And, next week is when Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce whether kids and teachers will go back to classrooms in September.