A group of Big Apple parents rallied outside City Hall on Sunday to demand the return to hybrid learning for all grades — the day before only K-5 students were set to head back into classrooms.
Joining a recent wave of protests across the country calling for more in-class instruction, about 70 parents and kids waved signs that said things such as, “Safest place for children is in school” and “Home detention is not education.”
“Spring was really tough,’’ said mom Suzanne Nossel, who has a 16-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter in New York City’s public-school system, which switched to all-virtual learning at the height of the pandemic.
Nossel and other parents at the rally said the city needs to reopen its middle and high schools to hybrid learning again, not just the lower grades, for the kids’ sake.
“Having the interaction with the teachers, the social opportunities — it’s such a critical age in terms of development,’’ the mom said of the older students.
Nossel’s daughter, Liza Greenberg, an eighth-grader at MS 243 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, agreed.
“I [was] doing remote school since March, and we recently went back to hybrid, and it was so great to see my friends and actually have the human contact that is so important at my age,” the teen said.
“When school went back remote [in November], I know a lot of my friends have been struggling with mental-health issues, depression, eating disorders, and it’s going to continue unless we actually take action.”
Hybrid instruction in city schools began in late September, only to shut down amid spiking local COVID-19 cases in early November.
Ten days later, Mayor de Blasio announced he was reopening the younger grades to partial in-person learning again, as federal and local health officials reported schools’ coronavirus rates were far lower than their communities’ and younger students appear less vulnerable to the virus.
Still, hybrid learning in the lower grades is only open to the 195,000 kids whose parents already signed them up for hybrid — as long as the children have signed consent forms for the Education Department’s mandatory, random, now-weekly coronavirus testing.
A showdown was looming between the schools and some parents who have balked over the notion of having their kids tested without them present — with a group of moms and dads vowing to show up at buildings Monday to usher their children in without the forms.
The city had been using a threshold of a 3 percent positive-test rate involving the virus to shut down its schools. Once the city went over that threshold, the schools were to shut, although de Blasio then recently reversed course involving the lower grades.
More than 15,000 people have signed a change.org petition demanding Hizzoner toss that 3 percent limit altogether.
“Indoor dining remains open. Gyms remain open. Nail salons and barbershops remain open. Only schools are threatened with closure. This is nonsensical,’’ the petition says.
“The arbitrary 3% rate to close schools should be abandoned in favor of recognizing how important schools are to our children, to our parents, and to this City.”
Mia Eisner-Grynberg, 38, whose husband teaches in the upper grades in the city, was at Sunday’s protest over the continued closure of the middle and high schools.
“Watching what my husband has been experiencing at his [grade] six to 12 school at the time when [students] were in school, I can tell you 100 percent those kids who were coming into the building were the kids who need to be in school,’’ she told The Post.
“To take those very vulnerable kids in particular and say, ‘You can’t be here’ for the indefinite future, it’s baseless, it’s arbitrary, and it’s wrong.”
The debate over the re-opening of schools to more in-person learning is heating up across the US, where there have been protests in at least nine cities including the Big Apple, in the past week, Medium reported.
Neither the New York City Department of Education nor City Hall returned a Post request for comment Sunday.
Credit: NYPOST Newzandar News