Reopen News: New York City public school students wrap up bizarre academic year

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City public school students wrapped a bizarre academic year Friday, after the final four months of education were completely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza joined students, staff, and families at various events to celebrate the last day of school, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Bronx, where he thanked staff and distributed meals at the Truman Campus Meal Hub.

He capped it off by participating in a noon drive-thru graduation ceremony CSI High School for International Studies on Staten Island, where 124 seniors in 124 cars accepted 124 diplomas.

E. B. White once said that "Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car," but he could not have imagined this graduation ceremony.

"We're very proud of them," Principal Joseph Canale said. "They've had to finish their final year under the most difficult circumstances, so this is the least we could do."

Graduate Richard Saus said his class missed having a senior prom, but for him and his classmates, the struggle was worth it.

"It's finally over, we made it through, now it's on to college," he said. "That was nice, was really cool. Yeah, we couldn't have actual proper ceremony. But this one was really nice."

In between events, Carranza and First Lady Chirlane McCray joined a small group of students and staff in a "gratefulness circle" at a Regional Enrichment Center in Middle Village.

He also joined a virtual Pre-K graduation ceremony at My Sunshine Kids in Brooklyn.

Plans for the 2020-2021 school year are in limbo, but Carranza said that school buildings may be only to handle one third of staff and students when they return to in-school learning, hopefully in the fall.

"Some form of blended learning, distanced learning as well," he said. "Because we want parents and families to have options in that regard, as well. And I think it's going to require all of us to be very flexible."

Carranza said he already informed principals to plan for a 3% cut to school budgets, in addition to massive cuts to centralized operations.

But Carranza stressed it is unclear what, if anything, will have to be cut from the Education Department budget.

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