NEW YORK — There’s a little more than a month until the first day of what Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised will be a more normal school year.

But with many questions unanswered, some parents say they feel right back where they were a year ago.

What You Need To Know

  • Some parents say the education department hasn't provided enough information, just five weeks before school begins

  • They want to know about quarantine protocols, social distancing and more

  • Others are hoping the city will add a remote option, which the mayor has said will not be offered

“I'm definitely experiencing some deja vu, right, so a little, maybe, PTSD — not to use the word flippantly — from last fall, of not really having any information, and just kind of trusting the system to work out, and everything would fall into place, and really kind of having a devastating school year,” Queens parent Julia Olscheski said.

Olscheski has two children in elementary school, a rising first-grader and a rising fourth-grader with significant special needs. Quarantine policies in place last year meant her children spent little time in their classrooms. It took a toll, especially on her older son, who missed out on physical, speech and occupational therapy.

“He's lost life skills, activities of daily living, things he needs just to get himself dressed,” she said.

She says she no longer trusts the education department to make data-based decisions about things like school closures, and is considering private school.

“What I want is a detailed plan so that I can make an informed decision,” Olscheski said. “I would love to know, research and data and behind decisions and policies that are made.”

Tahj Sutton, a parent and Community Education Council president in Brooklyn, doesn’t feel comfortable with sending her children to school with the rise of the delta variant. But, she has something in common with Olscheski: that sense of deja vu.

“I'm feeling like we're going to have a repeat of the really, really sloppy opening that we wound up having to turn into a closure,” Sutton said.

Sutton is advocating for the city to offer a remote option for those who want it. She says she has no plans to return in-person.

“I won't allow the Department of Education to force me and my family to do anything,” she said. “So in my mind, we're gonna win this fight for remote.”

Parents around the city told NY1 they, too, wanted more information on things like how far apart students would sit, where they’d eat lunch, whether they’d be changing classes and how often they’d be tested for COVID-19.

“One of the main things families and communities have been asking for throughout the pandemic is that communication, that transparency,” Sutton said. “Even if you don't have a plan right, even if you don't know what's going on, you can tell families that we can have an honest conversation.”

On NY1 this week, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said schools would continue to use testing, masks and social distancing where possible, but that details could change.

“Information often changes every day, and we want to make sure that we give our families the most accurate, up to date information for back to school,” Porter said.

The first day of school will be Sept. 13.


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