Students and teachers react to NYC school closures

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Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at his press conference on March 15 that all New York City public schools are closed, effective immediately, until April 20. However, this closure may continue until the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

After numerous petitions pressured Governor Cuomo to close NYC schools, he announced plans to submit to these requests as soon as Mayor de Blasio devised a plan to ensure childcare for all during this break. 

“I definitely think it was the best decision and it should have happened earlier. As we can see from the spread of this deadly virus in other countries in Asia and in Europe, isolating is an effective method to slow down transmission,” commented UFT chapter leader Franco Scardino.

Previously, government and DOE officials had grappled with plans to provide adequate nutrition to underserved families and childcare for elementary school-aged children, without compromising the safety of other NYC students by keeping schools open. Mayor de Blasio has since decided to keep these resources available to students at their local schools in spite of the instructional recess.        

AP Biology teacher Shi Bing Shen commented, “I do believe closing the schools is the right decision. I understand it has widespread consequences, but for the good of the city and to hopefully slow down the transmission of the virus, it was a necessary step in the right direction for NYC.”

“Though unfortunate, this decision is ultimately the best for the NYC population as a whole. Taking preventative measures is better than taking reactive measures in a pandemic,” said senior Vice President Emily Tan.

Though students are relieved to know their health and safety are a priority for NYC officials, many are also upset by this temporary separation from their school community. 

Seniors were especially disappointed by this interruption to their last year of high school. Many are dwelling on the possibility of not being able to attend their prom or graduation due to the current ban on large gatherings. 

It feels unreal, as if we’re in a dream or a simulation. I looked forward to my senior year, my entire high school life, but everything blew up. I’m definitely not happy and I’ll miss seeing my friends and my teachers in school,” said Emily. 

For the seniors and graduating classes of 2020, I feel saddened that they aren’t able to fully experience their last year in school. Hopefully, everything will be better soon and that their graduation plans are not ruined by this issue,” said freshman Maggie Huang. 

However, others were looking forward to using this extended hiatus from school as a time for both rest and productivity. 

“I plan on practicing on the saxophone a lot more, which can be hard with school…. I’m also crocheting right now, and hopefully I can learn how to use a sewing machine,” stated junior Weiye Yasen.

“I’m going to stay in my home, quarantine, and sleep since they are literally closing everything and my friends are scared to come outside,” said sophomore Ngozi Anya.

Maggie also plans to spend most of her time at home. “I’ll try to find a new hobby during this month and since PSAL isn’t running, I’ll go out often on runs by myself to stay healthy,” she explained. 

“I honestly didn’t want school to close down for this long, but in my free time I am going to catch up on studying for various APs and regents and actually get the time to do work and other objectives, like finding an internship for the summer,” commented sophomore Bebe Adewale.

Nevertheless, teachers remain confident that online instruction will ensure that this break from school will not obstruct students’ learning too severely. 

I believe online learning would be possible for THHS since the majority of the teachers have set up Google Classroom for this year so there is a way to distribute materials, chat, and discuss topics even in real-time,” added Ms. Shen. 

I think it’s going to work out fine. I already have my ninth-grade classes organized on Google Classroom and my juniors are all online and on schedule to complete their AP Research paper,” said Mr. Scardino.

I think the band program is completely prepared for this. Luckily, the way the curriculum/ course was already structured, switching to a completely online platform will be a somewhat easy transition for us…I am confident that when school resumes, we will have advanced where we left off and will be more than prepared for our concerts and NYSSMA festival performances,” said music teacher Kevin Heathwood.  “Greatness is not measured when things go perfectly, it is measured when things don’t, and seeing how one perseveres, adapts, and rises to the challenge.  There is a big task ahead for both staff and students… but I believe Townsend is equipped and prepared for it.”