Staten Island high school to offer virtual instruction due to lack of teachers, principal says

TOTTENVILLE, Staten Island (WABC) -- Tottenville High School on Staten Island will begin the year with "virtual instruction," according to a letter sent to parents.

Gina Battista, the school's principal, said in the letter that the decision was made due to a lack of teachers.

"We have no choice but to implement virtual learning classrooms with in person supervision. Due to this decision, our students will be provided with live (synchronous) virtual and asynchronous instruction five days a week by our own Tottenville faculty," Battista said.

According to the letter, students will still attend school in person, there will still be a teacher in the classroom to supervise and assist with questions, but the lessons will be taught on a computer by a teacher who is remote.

City Councilman Joe Borelli posted the letter on Twitter saying the school "gave up" and moved to 100% remote learning. He also blamed Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill de Blasio saying they "left the students and faculty high and dry with no options."

However, the Department of Education said "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."

Tottenville High School has over 3,600 students.

Meanwhile, this week it was announced 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."

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

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.

New York City schools, including IS 51, will fully open Wednesday and Thursday.

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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