By Mosammad Khanom.

Khanom is an intern at The Unmuted and will be beginning her sophomore year at Stuyvesant High School later this month.

So much uncertainty is surrounding students’ return to school with the rise of the Delta variant.  Khanom spoke to a variety of stakeholders — students, parents and teachers — to get their thoughts on what they think going back to school might look like. While most seem to agree on the importance of in-person learning, it seems as though not all are convinced current safety measures have lowered the risk.

“Why should I have to choose between my son’s education and my son’s health — that is not okay.

“I know that [the Delta variant] is a lot more contagious and it spreads easily. Most of the people in hospitals with Delta are unvaccinated. And that it (Delta) makes up 80% of new Covid cases in the U.S. I’m really scared to go back to school because of the Delta variant because I don’t want to get my unvaccinated younger siblings sick.”
— Ruby Lin, a rising junior at Stuyvesant High School

“I definitely prefer in-real-life learning because I would love to socialize with my friends and, along with this, it’s a lot easier to focus in class without distractions at home. … I hate the idea of staying at home all day. I think that people are still taking the pandemic somewhat seriously, however, I think people don’t realize how contagious this variant is and massive gatherings that are starting to happen again are giving me some anxiety, because I really don’t want another lockdown. [Schools should implement] mask mandates, in-school testing, social distancing and vaccines in school, maybe”
— Shafakat Sahil, a rising sophomore at Bronx Science 

 “I think there will be a few cases here and there but ding-ding-ding vaccine. Wear masks and stay home if you feel sick. Enjoy school and make new friends.”
— Rimu Umme, a rising sophomore at University Heights High School 

“In New York City, all DOE employees are required to have at least one dose of the vaccine by Sept. 27. The last that I’ve heard of official policies, all students and DOE employees are going to be masked inside buildings. I know that every school classroom at Stuyvesant and, I believe, school classrooms throughout the city, are equipped with air purifiers and the custodial staff, over the summer, have been, again, checking air filtration systems and ventilation. There’s a real focus on that. I am ready and I feel that most teachers feel this way and students feel this way as well to go back to full-time in-person, especially if you could get as much of a school population, as possible, vaccinated. The vaccination is a scientific miracle; it’s extraordinary.” — Annie Thoms, a ninth-grade English composition teacher at Stuyvesant High School 

“I do want my children to be social and live normal lives, but at what cost? Their health should always be the priority. With this new version of the virus, I do not know if I want to let my children go back at all.”— Ruby Akter, a mother of three middle school students at the Bronx Charter School for Excellence 

“My son did say that remote learning is not as good as the real life version. That makes total sense; I get it. Why should I have to choose between my son’s education and my son’s health — that is not okay.”— Ferdous Khan, an IT engineer and a father of an incoming eighth-grader at Junior High School 127

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