Back to School: Safety a top priority as New York City public school students return Thursday

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Thursday, September 8, 2022
More than 140K teachers and staff greet NYC students for 1st day of school
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Marcus Solis has more on the first day of classes for students in New York City.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- All week families across the Tri-State have been adjusting to earlier wake-up times because school is back in session.

And New York City public school students joined the earlier risers Thursday morning.

Nearly one million students headed back to class across the five boroughs.

City and school leaders held a conference to discuss what's being done to keep students safe.

Nearly one million students are headed back to class and school leaders are talking about what's being done to keep them safe. Chantee Lans has the story.

New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks and Mayor Eric Adams have said many times that school is the safest place kids can be.

And they want to keep it that way.

"We're going to de-silo government and realize that the problem of one agency is not isolated to the agency its part of the team approach, "Adams said." Commissioner Sewell and Chancellor Banks, they understand that safety for children is not only what happens within the sterilized environment of the classroom but what while they are on their journey home and what happens in their home place. And how we utilize all our tools and resources to make sure our children are receiving the quality that they deserve."

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The chancellor and mayor were joined by NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell to greet students at P.S. 161 in the Bronx on their first day of school.

City officials said they not only want to ensure that students are safe, but that they feel safe too.

"It takes all of us working together to make our children safe," Sewell said. "So while we are committed to doing that and will continue to do that we need teachers, students who see problems with their fellow students. Make no mistake about it the NYPD is committed to the safety of all the students and teachers and the areas surrounding our schools, but the future of public safety in this city is starting school today walking these halls. We have to show them a better way."

New safety measures will be put in place for this school year like hiring several new school safety agents.

The safety agents and other school officials are getting additional active-shooter training, including those who work with the youngest students.

And this year, principals can send out real-time push notifications to alert the school community of closings and emergencies.

"We've been very fortunate because we haven't had any gun incidents per se," Banks said. "But we have been in fact alarmed by the amount of weapons brought into our schools. more than we've seen in the past. we see it as a direct correlation to what the students are feeling outside of our schools."

Last year 24 guns were seized in city public schools and more than 5,000 other weapons were confiscated like knives and brass knuckles.

School officials also spoke about how to keep students safe from COVID and monkeypox.

Masks are now optional, but school officials want students to stay home if they have symptoms and students will get four COVID at-home tests a month.

If a student tests positive they have to stay home and isolate for five days, but if they're well enough to learn remotely they will be given that option.

The mayor and chancellor also announced several learning initiatives that will begin with the new school year, including expanding the Gifted and Talented program in every school district within the five boroughs.

Students will have two opportunities to test into the program, once in kindergarten and again in 3rd grade.

Adams said the expansion of the program will help accelerate learners that were previously unable to apply due to their district being excluded.

"It was unbelievable we had some districts that did not have Gifted and Talented Programs," Adams said. "We normalized the fact that some children were better than other children in this city. This was unacceptable. We are bringing equity to a process that black and brown children have often been ignored."

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