Governor announces school closure has been extended to the end of the year

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On Friday, May 1, Governor Andrew Cuomo officially announced during a daily live press conference that all New York State schools and colleges will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. 

Despite knowing that schools had to be closed for safety reasons, teachers and students were nevertheless disappointed by this decision. “I miss my old daily routine,” said English teacher Ryan Dunbar. “I immediately felt for high school students across the city that can’t see their friends and participate in clubs, activities, and events that they were likely looking forward to.” 

With schools being closed, many students are missing out on sports, prom, and all the fun events that come with the end of the school year. Sophomore Daniel Song stated, “I knew I would miss seeing my friends in person. There’s a big difference between FaceTime and a physical in-person conversation.”

However, others were relieved that their safety would not be compromised by returning back to school too early. “When I first heard that school was going to be closed for the remainder of the school year, I was glad and happy because there is no point in going back to school now. It is still dangerous to have more than 30 students packed in a single room in close vicinity to one another,” said junior Hans Li.

 For the past few months and remainder of the school year, remote learning has been used to make up for this school closure, but students do not believe that it will be able to replace learning in a school environment. Freshman Kate Estevez said, “I feel extremely sad and nostalgic. I don’t think remote learning is making up for it enough because most teachers are just posting worksheets and assignments.”

“Virtual learning is not the same and therefore [is] not as effective as interacting in person because of the first-hand experience it brings,” continued sophomore Alyanah Piedal. 

Daniel also expressed concerns about remote learning. He said, “ [I don’t know] how I would perform in future grades and in college.  I don’t feel like I’m as motivated to learn.”

On the other hand, some students believe that remote learning is still doing an adequate job in giving them their education under the circumstances they are in. “Remote learning at this point is perfectly fine as the school year is wrapping up. I am still learning the rest of the material that needs to have been covered by the end of June,” explained Hans. Similarly, sophomore Hailey O’toole stated, “With Regents [exams] canceled and students becoming accustomed to remote learning, for the time being, I do not see the issue in doing two more months remotely.” 

 The decision to close schools for the remainder of the school year did not come lightly to the mayor and governor, following much uneasy debate and deliberation. On April 11, Mayor De Blasio took it upon himself to announce that all NYC schools will be closed for the remainder of the year. However, shortly after Mayor Deblasio’s announcement, Governor Cuomo quickly responded, stating that the Mayor does not have the authority to make such a decision. 

This feud and misconnection between them did not sit well with the students. 

Alyanah felt that the situation “was handled immaturely. For two major public leaders, the situation should’ve been handled privately. Bringing it to public might add to the uneasiness of families and would shake the trust between the leaders and the residents.” 

Sophomore Victoria Siebor agreed, “This argument made both the Mayor and the Governor look foolish and caused a great amount of stress for students, who all rely on them for information about schools.”

Nevertheless, Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo ultimately decided that closing school for the remainder of the school year was the safest for all. Mr. Dunbar commented, “Because this disease spreads so quickly, victimizes the most vulnerable, and is still largely a mystery, I think it’s important to take it seriously and do everything we can to help limit its spread.” 

Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee added, “I believe that the Mayor and Governor are committed to decreasing widespread community infection to low enough that we can return to school. I trust that they will do the right thing for our city including those of us in Queens.” 

Addressing the THHS community, Assistant Principal of Math, Science, and Technology Susan Brustein concluded, “This is not the school year that any of us wished for. For those of you who have suffered loss, please know that my prayers and thoughts are with you. Speaking to the school community as a whole, I believe in each of your ability to transcend this difficult time, and come out on the other side having learned to appreciate the many good things in our lives to which we did not pay attention before.”