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NYC public schools reopen classes for 1st time without remote option

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NYC public schools reopen classes for 1st time without remote option
Parents and children are seen at Public School 15 in New York City on September 29, 2020. More than 1 million students are scheduled to return to classrooms on Monday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 13 (UPI) -- More than 1 million students in the nation's largest public school district will return to classrooms in New York City on Monday -- with no option for remote learning for the first time since the arrival of COVID-19.

The city's public schools first introduced a remote learning option in March 2020 when the coronavirus outbreak arrived in the United States. Classrooms reopened later last year but kept a remote option."We have been working for 18 months to get ready for this day," New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter told CNN.

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School officials are requiring full vaccination for all teachers and staff at public schools, and children eligible to receive the vaccine -- those over 12 -- are strongly encouraged to do so.

Officials said students can be inoculated in schools during the first week of classes. Those who remain unvaccinated will be tested regularly.

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Masks will also be required, and teachers have a deadline of Sept. 27 to receive at least one vaccine dose.

Officials say vaccinated students who test positive for COVID-19 but don't display symptoms won't have to quarantine, but will be encouraged to physically distance by 3 feet.

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Vaccination is mandatory for those who participate in "high-risk" extracurricular activities like football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling and cheerleading.

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"Our return to full-time, in-person learning starts with a safe and healthy learning environment for every student and staff member and ensuring students have the tools and support they need to succeed," New York City Schools said in a statement.

"Fall 2021 marks an important homecoming for our schools. [Monday], we begin the journey to recovery by welcoming New York City students back to school communities and classrooms where they can feel safe and well-cared for, and where they can learn and grow socially, emotionally and academically."

Some parents -- especially those with children under age 12 -- are trying to persuade the district to continue with a remote learning option.

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"I refuse to send my grandchildren into a school where we don't know if it's safe," Sandra DeJesus told WABC-TV.

Some teachers have also called for a remote option and a delay for in-person classes until January.

"I understand the concerns that parents have," Porter said, according to WABC-TV. "That's why we moved to ensure that our entire workforce is vaccinated.

"I definitely understand parents' concerns, but ... research has shown our students have lost a lot over these last 18 months, and they need to be back in school."

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As of last week, at least 20% of New York City schoolteachers had not received one vaccine dose.

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