‘Really happy to be reunited’: NYC middle schools reopen Thursday for 60,000 students

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Roughly 60,000 New York City middle school students head back to in-person classes Thursday for the first time since November, eagerly coming face-to-face with their teachers after months of remote learning.

“We were really happy to be reunited with our students and colleagues,” said Nina Kulkarni, an eighth-grade math teacher at McKinley Junior High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

“The kids really were just grateful to be there and happy to be out of their homes and around other people,” said Danielle Cowan, another McKinley teacher.

City junior high schools opened for part-time in-person classes in September, but shut down along with the rest of the school system in November when the citywide COVID test positivity rate hit 3%.

Since then, officials have reopened preschools, elementary schools and District 75 schools for students with complex disabilities with ramped-up COVID testing, but said they needed additional time to build up testing capacity for middle schools.

Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza touted the safety protocols Thursday morning, citing a .58% positivity rate from surveillance testing in schools.

“We can truly say the safest indoor locations in the City of New York are in the classrooms of the New York City Department of Education,” said Carranza. “We’ve ramped up capacity by hiring additional staff to support our situation room and adding teams to conduct weekly testing in our middle and elementary schools.”

Even though COVID rates are far higher now across the city than last fall when schools first reopened, some teachers said they felt less wary about returning to class Thursday because they already had practice.



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