Why N.Y.C. Delayed the First Day of School – The New York Times

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Credit…Pool photo by Jeenah Moon

Over the past few weeks, teachers and principals have rushed to prepare for the return of 1.1 million children to public schools across New York City.

Now they have a little more time to do so.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that in-person classes would start on Sept. 21 — 10 days later than initially planned. The shift came as pressure intensified on the mayor to delay the school year, as many educators said classrooms would not be ready to reopen next week.

Still, New York is on track to be the only major city in the country to bring students into physical classrooms this fall.

[Read more about New York City’s plan for the start of the school year.]

Here’s what else you need to know about the mayor’s announcement:

Under the new plan, teachers will report to schools as scheduled next week, using the additional time to set up their classrooms and meet with students individually.

Once the semester starts, most families that have opted for in-person learning will send their children to school one to three days per week to allow for social distancing. Starting in October, the city will also require random monthly coronavirus testing in all schools, with results that will be ready within 48 hours, the mayor said.

Mr. de Blasio has said he will not reopen schools — or will close them — if the city’s test positivity rate ticks above 3 percent. For weeks, it has hovered around 1 percent.

Many teachers, raising alarm about ventilation in classrooms and testing for staff members and students, had asked for the first day of school to be moved back. Some principals also supported a delay, saying that families’ wide-ranging safety concerns about in-person learning might not be addressed in time.

Mr. de Blasio had insisted that schools would be ready to reopen on Sept. 10. The pressure to change those plans mounted this week, when the city’s powerful teachers’ union was poised to authorize an illegal strike for its 75,000 members.

The delay came as districts across the country were watching New York City’s reopening effort. Every other big-city mayor has opted to start the school year fully remote.

Research on reopenings in other countries with similar virus transmission rates suggests that New York City’s plan could work if case numbers remain low.

If successful, the effort could help stabilize the city’s sputtering economy, as many employers believe that school reopenings will play a big role in whether people return to work.

[A parent’s toughest call: In-person schooling or not?]

Some parent groups had joined calls for Mr. de Blasio to postpone the reopening by at least a week, and while Tuesday’s decision provided that, the news also left many working families little time to rearrange their schedules.

A lawyer in the Bronx is being accused of anti-Asian racism because of a term he used to refer to the coronavirus. [Daily News]


The idea began as a viral slide show on Instagram. Its first image read: “Your favorite music exists because of Black people.”

The post, which recommends articles about pioneering Black artists, has received more than 150,000 likes, as well as comments from people saying they would attempt to change how they engage with music.

Jenzia Burgos, the Bronx woman who made the post, said the response made her realize that she wanted to do more to raise awareness about Black musicians’ influence on various genres.

She spent the next two months compiling 45 pages of resources about the history of Black artists’ role in traditional and popular music. Three weeks ago, she unveiled an online database of that information: the Black Music History Library.

“When we look at the face of a genre, whether it’s an award show or whether it’s the thumbnail for a streaming playlist, why is the face of that not a Black person?” Ms. Burgos, who is a Puerto Rican-Dominican music journalist, said.

The library attempts to address that, directing users to more than 1,000 resources — among them a podcast about the influence of Black artists on country music, an essay highlighting Black children who play heavy metal and a documentary exploring the role of Black people within predominantly white punk scenes.

Including a range of genres was important to her, she added, especially ones like classical music and rock, which she said were often “whitewashed” when discussed by listeners.

She also sought to place emphasis on resources by Black authors and creators, so that “young people who are coming to this site see that there are Black people writing about this music.”

Ms. Burgos said she hoped to eventually start a library newsletter and bring others on board to help.

“I hope that folks not only realize how all the music that we listen to is influenced by the Black community,” Ms. Burgos said, “but I also hope they start to put their money where their mouth is.”

It’s Wednesday — listen up.


Dear Diary:

Back when I taught at Brooklyn College, which is at the last stop on the No. 2 line, the best part of my daily commute from the Upper West Side was the trip home because I was assured to always get a seat.

One day, arriving at Wall Street, where the train always filled up, I looked up from my perch to see a woman who was clearly pregnant.

I immediately offered her my seat (my father’s ghost would never have forgiven me if I hadn’t). Thank yous and you’re welcomes followed.

The next day, same commute, same woman entering at Wall Street, same routine, same exchange. I figured we were transit buddies now.

“See you tomorrow,” I said.

“Nope,” she answered with a smile. “This is my last day before maternity leave.”

I sometimes wonder how her child is faring.

— Fred Winter


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