Home featured For Teachers and Parents, a School Season of Fear and Anxiety

For Teachers and Parents, a School Season of Fear and Anxiety


To the Editor:

Re “New York’s School Chaos Is Breaking Me,” by Michelle Goldberg (column, Aug. 25):

New York’s school chaos is breaking us, too. I’m a high school librarian at an overcrowded school in Queens. My husband is a middle school math teacher in the Bronx. We have a kindergartner who will be attending class in person on Fridays only, but sometimes on a Monday or a Tuesday as well, and a 7-month-old.

We interviewed a nanny but told her we have no idea what the daily hours would look like or what the school calendar is. There is still no information about the mythical child care centers that will be opening. There likely won’t be one in our neighborhood, or one with the hours we need. Plus, who is working there, and will there be personal protective equipment and an updated HVAC system there?

Teachers can opt to work remotely only if they have a health issue. We are being told to head back to school buildings to support working parents, but now we are in a child care bind. Teachers are being asked to save the city’s children, but who is saving ours?

Lindsay Klemas
Jackson Heights, Queens

To the Editor:

As a proud former New York City teacher and principal for over three decades, I can’t help but applaud the announced opening of schools (now delayed until Sept. 21). We are engaged in two pandemics: Covid-19 and the pandemic of racism. Our youngsters face at the very least years of academic slide, if not trauma.

As we know, Black and Hispanic families have faced the greatest losses. Many of these students are children of essential workers who couldn’t be schooling them at home. Remote learning for poor and special needs children was less than smooth. Finally, schools are the first line of defense for identification of health risks and abuse.

Where else but in classrooms can conversations and healing begin? Teachers are the front line for the care and welfare of our city’s young. Our schools have retained national recognition for excellence. This is possible by the brilliant work of our city’s teachers and administrators, who work tirelessly at creating pathways to reach all youngsters. Perhaps this will be the greatest and most needed challenge to undertake.

Yes, there are risks of infection and spikes. So, too, are there risks for health care workers, supermarket workers and restaurant workers.

I know the greatness of these educators. They will, as always, “make it work.” Our children deserve no less. The classroom must continue to be the safe haven.

Phyllis Reggio
Rockaway Park, Queens

To the Editor:

This year, many urban teachers and students will return to crumbling buildings and overcrowded classrooms with the worry of Covid looming over our lives.

When my Rhode Island school district likely opens in a couple of weeks, it plans to have 25 to 30 children in a classroom. Masks are required (we had to fight for that), and the custodian will zoom around the building wiping down surfaces and handing out hand sanitizer throughout the day. All furniture aside from desks has been removed from classrooms to make social distancing possible.

This all amounts to “hygiene theater.” On the surface it all seems just fine. But pull away the curtain and you will see the same overcrowded, underfunded classrooms you would have seen in early March. Except now, lives will be at risk, children won’t be free to move around, and instruction will be delivered from the front of the room with little opportunity for individualization.

Maia Brumberg-Kraus
Providence, R.I.
The writer is a reading specialist in Cranston, R.I.

To the Editor:

Wouldn’t it be lovely if the “pandemic learning pods” that are gathering to provide private education for children would sponsor at least one less privileged child/family into their pods?

Virginia McCallum
Bradenton, Fla.

To the Editor:

As we start to experience school in today’s unique pandemic-influenced environment, let us assume good will on the part of our school districts’ leaders. Both elected school board members and school personnel have no reason to make their decisions other than for the best interests of the children and staff.

Conditions may vary in different communities, and they may change as time passes. Let’s not jump to condemnation. Please remember that these people come to their roles in education because they love kids and wish to serve.

This is a time to encourage our children to be positive about learning, whatever the situation. It is not a moment for unkindness, but a time for good hearts.

Karl Hertz
Thiensville, Wis.
The writer is a retired school superintendent and past president of the American Association of School Administrators.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here