It’s back to school, but not classroom

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New York: Only pre-kindergarten and some special education students are scheduled to end a six-month absence from school buildings after a last-minute decision to postpone, for the second time, plans to be among the first big districts to resume in-person instruction after the coronavirus forced students and staff home.

Schoolchildren in kindergarten through 12th grade are still starting the new school year on Monday, but fully remotely, the same way students in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and many of New York’s other urban districts have.

After a fidgety spring of online pre-K, Jessica D’Amato’s 5-year-old son has been so excited about going back to in-person school that he keeps asking: “When am I going to kindergarten?” First the answer was September 10. Then it was Monday. Now it’s September 29, much to the family’s frustration. High school students return October 1.

Before the latest delay, teacher Chloe Davis had spent last week bracing to welcome her fourth-grade class at PS 536, reassured on one level upon seeing the newly cleaned and painted building but so anxious at times she broke down crying. Chief among her worries is keeping her students from picking up the virus and bringing it home to their families.

Daniel Leviatin, a fourth-grade teacher and school librarian at PS 59 in the Bronx, sees no reason to push students back into buildings and believes the city squandered the chance to address technology issues and improve distance learning over the summer.

“Every single moment of the planning of this and the way it’s been unrolled, is a mess,” Leviatin said.