Back To School: NYC Catholic schools welcome students back Wednesday

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022
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Catholic school students across the five boroughs return to the classroom Wednesday and public school students will get their turn Thursday.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Catholic schools in New York City welcomed students back to the classroom Wednesday.

School officials say all Catholic schools across the five boroughs will continue to operate with full in-person instruction.

Students at the School of The Blessed Sacrament - The Barry Upper School got quite the welcome Wednesday, with a performance from a former Broadway star and a science experiment.

This will be the first time in a couple of years things will look normal, with the return of traditional recess, and students and teachers alike are eager to take part in activities they've missed out on due to the pandemic.

School officials acknowledge COVID is still a concern, but they stress that it's time to get students back in classrooms and make up for any learning loss that happened due to the disruptions.

RELATED | COVID polices, increased security in focus for Tri-State back to school

Students and teachers in Paterson, New Jersey, were also headed back to school Wednesday, and Superintendent Eileen Shafer said the district made face masks optional for the school year and will instead focus on other safety measures.

"We have thermal scanners," she said. "When our students and staff enter the building, their temperature will be taken. We also have an annual health screening that will be filled out."

Thursday is the first day of classes for New York City public schools, the nation's largest school district, and the pandemic has left a lasting impact, with school officials citing low enrollment as the root of systemwide budget issues.

"It has affected our budget because if you have less students, you're going to have less budget," New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks said.

The department of education lost about 120,000 families in the last five years, and the majority of them left during the start of the pandemic.

Many schools are facing cuts to their budgets, leaving some parents worried about the quality of education and availability of extracurricular activities.

"It's frustrating not knowing what's going on, what activities the kids will be able to partake in, because the funds are gonna be cut," one mother said.

This school year will look a little more normal, with the majority of COVID restrictions being rolled back.

Back-to-school excitement was in the air Tuesday as many students across the Tri-State area returned for the first day of classes.

The largest school district in New Jersey welcomed students back with some COVID protocols still in place, at least for now. About 38,000 students are walking the halls in the Newark Public School District, a record number for the district.

"The first day is, undeniably, the most important day of the year for students, their families, and staff," Newark Superintendent Roger Leon said. "The attendance on the first day of school is just one way we ensure the school year gets off to a great start. We are extremely excited about the expansion of grades across elementary schools to the 8th grade, growing grades at the new high schools, and opening new Prekindergarten seats throughout the city."

Watch | Eyewitness News back to school town hall with Schools Chancellor David Banks

For the 25,000 students in Yonkers, most of the COVID-related restrictions have been dropped for the first time since 2019.

Masks are optional, and anyone exposed to the virus will no longer have to quarantine. But those who test positive for the virus still have to isolate for at least five days.

"It's never going to be normal, but it's something that we'll have to live with, honestly," parent Felton Hebron said. "The kids, they're just geared up for the year."

Yonkers School Superintendent Edwin Quezada said while the focus is certainly on education, he said school security has been increased in light of the increase of mass shootings like the one at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.

"We have retrofitted many buildings with new technology," he said. "We added 12 additional safety officers to our schools. The police department is facilitating training. A lot in terms of safety."

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