The Department of Education said 67% of public school students attended class Monday, the first day back from winter break. That's much lower than the pre-pandemic average attendance of 91%.
“School is not supposed to be a scary place," said Ryan DeLorge, who decided to keep his children home from school on Monday.
He said he knows the first day back from winter break isn't educationally intensive, and he's worried about their safety with the record-breaking COVID-19 cases citywide.
“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve felt we’re only as strong as the weakest link of the people we hang out with," DeLorge said. "Unfortunately, at school, those are not the social circles we get to guarantee.”
DeLorge's 4-year-old daughter attends a private pre-k and is too young to get vaccinated but his 7-year-old son is double vaccinated. He attends P.S. 321 in Park Slope, which opened on Monday.
“I work from home, so this decision was a little easier for me to play hooky today, too," DeLorge said. "And I don’t fault anybody for bringing their kids to school today.”
Danielle Scheriff’s son is in the fourth grade at P.S. 321. She chose to send him to school, in part because he's double vaccinated.
“I am worried and I was very hesitant about sending him but I just hope that him being vaccinated will help if he does get it,” she said.
Despite parents' concerns, the mayor and the governor on Monday maintained schools are the safest place for kids, insisting they will stay open.
Scheriff would like to see another option, “I think it’s important to be here in school, but I do think there should be a remote option available for parents who want that option."
DeLorge would also like to see the city offer remote learning.
“Last year, we were remote, so it wasn’t that big of a decision to air on the side of caution,” he said.
His elderly parents live in his building, so he said he's trying to protect them, too.
“There’s no book on this," he said. "What I think about is, when we do read the book on this? Where do you want to be?”
DeLorge said he and his wife will make their own decisions each day about sending their kids to school, aware that keeping them home may keep them safe but it won't help them get the full learning experience.