Harrisites’ opinions on walk-out against open schools

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In the midst of the rapid incline of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in New York City, students have expressed their concerns on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s unrelenting position in keeping public schools open. In response, this stance has stirred the Townsend Harris community, prompting students to carry out a walk-out on Tuesday, March 17. Students expressed their indignation and outrage at the lack of measures being taken to reduce the spread of the virus in schools. 

“Many teachers, parents, and citizens of NYC are actively protesting the opening of schools through social media. It is also time for us students to have a voice through protests organized from social media,” explained the organizer of the walk-out. “We are only effective as a whole and need as many people possible to send our message. If you believe that your voice doesn’t matter because you are only one voice, know that your one voice collectively with others will make this change possible.”

“I am mainly concerned on how adamant the mayor is on keeping schools open. Although children aren’t as susceptible to the virus, that doesn’t mean we are safe… It’s for not only the safety of us but of our families too. [Having schools open is] like saying we should stay away from the virus but then putting us in the front lines,” said sophomore Sky Jiang. “I think we should close, most teachers have already made preparations for online schooling. At home we are overall safer.”

Sophomore Tamanna Rahman acknowledged that “there are kids who have home issues and rely on schools for food and social interaction,” but also noted that “kids and older people with asthma [and] others with more health conditions are really at risk right now.” She hopes that the mayor will close schools and eliminate the need for a walk-out.

Some students have conflicting sentiments about the effect the walk-out will have and its execution. Senior Georgia Malo said, “It’s a great way to make a statement but also it’s kind of hypocritical” because it’s going against the CDC advisory against large gatherings.

Tamanna agreed, saying “What’s the point of ‘social distancing’ then? You’re telling me the people will just leave but so many kids rely on public transport that at that point, these kids will just end up crowding the buses… I already get on two crowded buses to and from school daily.”

“I believe that it is not smart to have a walkout to close down schools to prevent the spread of coronavirus while having a large public gathering that is likely to increase the spread of the virus,” said junior Keith Yeung. 

Others admit that the walk-out would indeed garner attention, but not going to school altogether would carry more heft. “Honestly, I think a better approach is not coming to school to begin with,” stated sophomore Sai Choudari. Still, she said, “I would participate [in the walk-out] if I come to school that day.”