NYC principal urges parents to ‘stay with’ remote learning



A Queens principal drew outrage from parents this week after he sent out a letter asking them not to enroll their kids in classroom learning.

“You made a good decision when you chose remote learning for your child,” Bayside HS principal Michael Athy wrote in a letter to families. “Please stay with it.”

Several parents lashed out at Athy Friday, arguing that they should not be pressured by administrators in deciding if they want to return to buildings.

“This is totally inappropriate,” said one mom. “We’re not idiots. We understand the situation. This is the leader of the school telling people to stay fully remote.”

Athy’s missive — which stressed the ongoing COVID-19 threat and logistical hurdles — said that being in school was more harmful to kids than learning from home.

“Aren’t Bayside kids stressed out by full remote learning?” read a question from a parent that Athy included in the letter.

“Sickness, hospitalization, or the possible death of a loved one are far more stressful than remote learning,” the principal replied.

A DOE spokesperson said Friday that Athy’s letter was misleading.

“This letter is inaccurate and does not reflect our mission to maximize in-person learning for our students,” said spokesperson Danielle Filson.

City Hall offered parents a new window to enroll their children into blended learning this week, a format that has them alternate between home and building instruction.

Mayor de Blasio has argued that coronavirus vaccines and improving infection rates warranted the move.

Speaking on WNYC Friday, Hizzoner said 25,000 kids have already opted into classroom learning since the registration period began Monday.

In making his case against a migration back into his school, Athy noted that 96.4 percent of families chose to remain fully remote during a prior opt-in window in November.

But critics have argued that the pandemic was worsening during that period and that the climate has since improved.

Athy also asserted that the school’s academic metrics have remained strong this year despite a near-total reliance on remote learning.

“As our students further mature and develop more time-management skills, you will see that remote learning is not just a stop-gap measure, but actually is preparing them for college and careers, along with team work and ease of technology use,” he wrote.

Those few kids who actually come into the Queens school are only there once a week, he added.

Athy posed several more pointed questions and answers.

“Can Bayside guarantee my child will be safe from COVID-19 exposure in school?” read one.

“No,” was Athy’s response.

The principal also highlighted that Bayside has had 40 positive COVID-19 cases and one death.

Some Bayside parents backed Athy, arguing that he was conveying relevant information to families to inform their decision.

“Isn’t that his job?” said one dad with a child in a fully remote format. “He’s giving parents the lay of the land. No one is being forced to do anything.”

Parents from other schools across the city told The Post that teachers and administrators have regularly lobbied them to keep their kids at home throughout the school year.

The mother of two Cobble Hill elementary school students said several educators broke down crying during an August Zoom PTA meeting and implored parents not to sign up for hybrid learning.

The teachers said they were scared for their lives during the call.

“We felt sorry for them,” said a parent. “There was a feeling that we had to keep the kids remote, at least at that point. Things have changed. But parents are still afraid to say anything.”

The mom noted that her school has been shuttered temporarily six separate times during this school year due to COVID-19 cases.

Parent factions calling for a fuller reopening of city schools have grown increasingly assertive in recent weeks, with many demanding that vaccinated teachers return to their classrooms.

Roughly 20,000 city educators — or 27 percent of their total number — received yearlong COVID-19 medical accommodations that allow them to work solely from home.

About 70 percent of all kids in the nation’s largest school system are still on a fully remote schedule.

Vocal teacher groups have argued that school reopenings should not be rushed until the coronavirus has been fully subdued.

There has also been union resistance to an amendment of the COVID-19 school closure protocol, which temporarily shutters buildings when more than one case is detected.


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