NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City students returned to school Tuesday, as the city and teachers union continued to discuss a possible remote learning option.
Mayor Eric Adams stressed in-person learning will continue no matter what.
As CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported, there was confusion Tuesday about guidance sent out last week. Some parents thought it meant more flexible remote learning options were coming, but the mayor continues to say schools are the safest place to be.
The city said out of 25,000 recent tests only 1% were positive.
"I don't want anyone to get this mixed up. Our schools are going to remain open. We are not going to do anything that is going to stop our children from coming into schools," Adams said Tuesday morning.
Watch: Mayor Adams Discusses Schools During COVID-19 Press Conference
The clarification came as a relief for some.
"Stay in school," one father said. "That's the best option, because I have to go to work every day."
"It just doesn't feel right to be remote," a fifth grader added. "Going online and stuff like that is really hard."
Others have been pushing for remote options.
"I believe more remote, because if it's a pandemic and this virus is serious, then we should at least be taking all precautions," one parent said.
"If I want to send my kid to school, I have that option. If someone doesn't want to, they have that option," another added.
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New York City public school attendance has been lagging. Friday's average was 75%, which suggests 200,000 kids are not going to school.
That prompted the city and teachers union to talk about what optional remote learning could look like.
"We have not announced a remote learning option, if you will," Schools Chancellor David Banks said Tuesday. "We are exploring the possibilities of the expansion of a remote learning option."
"We continue to meet with the DOE to discuss a potential remote learning program for certain groups of students," the United Federation of Teachers said in a statement.
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The Department of Education sent an email to school principals Friday, updating its policy and allowing teachers to offer remote office hours or assignments to kids at home for reasons other than a positive COVID test.
"There's been a longstanding policy, which precedes this administration, that allows for students who have tested positive and who are quarantining to receive a level of asynchronous kind of assignments. Essentially what that means is teachers would post assignments online, offer up a certain number of office hours — we're paying the teachers for that additional level of work," said Banks. "We offered up a little bit more clarification and an option for some more students to take advantage of that policy, if the teachers in those individual schools are so inclined."
"Our exploration of anything remote is to target the children who are infected, and we want to isolate them. That is our conversation with the UFT and others to look at exploring. Those are our target groups," Adams added. "But it is not just to send a signal out, 'If you don't want to come to school, don't come to school.' No, our schools are open."
Banks said attendance is steadily increasing and has gone up 10% in the new year.
Editor's note: This story first appeared on Jan. 18
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