Meisha Porter has a full plate as the new year begins.
"I think what keeps me up at night is ensuring that this school system is really wrapping itself around its schools, our leaders, and our families," she said.
Porter is set to begin her first full year as the head of the nation's largest school system.
She says they are more than ready for the year ahead and to welcome all students back in person.
As for a remote option:
"I think parents want their kids in schools and I think they have concerns that are very valid," Porter said.
Parents of students with medical conditions have been offered a medically fragile option.
"We've seen very few families express interest in that," she said.
What would it take to plunge the school system back into remote?
"We have over 500-thousand devices that are Wi-Fi enabled in our students' hands. We're gonna follow the science and advice of our medical partners," Porter said.
The DOE is touting increased COVID-19 safety measures for its more than 1400 school buildings including nightly sanitizing, PPE for all, ventilation and air flow monitors, and added air purifiers.
"We have a new tool we didn't have a year ago," Porter said.
That tool is the vaccine. Sixty-five percent of 12 to 17-year-olds have already been fully vaccinated in New York City.
As far as mandating vaccines for students, Porter says it's up to the parents.
"We really want to leave that decision up to parents right now," she said. "We have mandated students in our high-risk sports."
The state is considering a student vaccine mandate for the state.
All New York City Department of Education staff must have received at least one dose of the vaccine by September 27th.
The teacher's union is fighting it.
The city says 72 percent of teachers are vaccinated. The union says it's more than 80 percent.
What will happen to teachers who refuse to get vaccinated is still in bargaining.
Porter, who grew up in Jamaica, Queens, is taking the biggest test of her career - trying to steer a system of around a million students through a COVID-19 storm threatening another school. She
"One, we got to keep students in classrooms with teachers. Two, that they felt affirmed in their school communities," she said.
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE
New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus
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