Confusion sets in as Staten Island high school makes last-minute changes before classes start

PRINCE'S BAY, Staten Island (WABC) -- Some New York City schools are scrambling to prepare for students to return to the classroom next week, and in a last minute decision, one high school is switching to virtual instruction because of a teacher shortage.

However, students will still be allowed inside the school at Tottenville High School on Staten Island.

Students who have chosen in-person learning will return to the classroom, but teachers will be working from home.

School administrators say it's all because of the teacher shortage and there aren't enough educators to instruct kids in the classroom and those at home - so the principal made the decision to have teachers work remotely on a computer while students learn from the classroom with a supervisor to answer questions.

The Department of Education released a statement:

"The idea that Tottenville has gone fully remote is patently false. They will welcome students in person on October 1st like high schools across the City."

It has all been very confusing to parents.

RELATED: Stay informed with ABC7's NYC COVID-19 positivity rate tracker

School starts at Tottenville High School on Oct. 1 and the Department of Education is working with the union to address teacher shortages.

Tottenville High School has over 3,600 students.

Several thousands more are still needed by Sept. 29 -- the first day of school for intermediate and middle school students.

Meanwhile, it was announced last week that 50 staff members at IS 51 in Westerleigh must quarantine after coming into contact with another staff member who tested positive for COVID.

The Department of Education said social distancing protocols that were put into place to prevent situations like this were not followed, which is why such a high number of staff members had to self-quarantine.

The DOE released a statement Thursday saying:

"Our strict safety protocols immediately identified a positive case at IS 51 and a Test + Trace investigation quickly identified close contacts. Our social distancing protocols, which were unfortunately not followed by school staff, are designed to prevent this scenario and this will be addressed. It takes the cooperation of everyone working together and closely following safety rules to stop the spread. With citywide transmission hovering at or below one percent, we can stop the spread if commonsense precautions are taken by all."

There were no students in the building when the contact when the positive case happened.

Sources tell Eyewitness News district workers are now filling the open slots.

ALSO READ: NYC Back to School: UFT says New York City needs 6-7K more teachers due to remote learning demands

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