NYC closing in-person public school prompts snarky Twitter storm: 'Can kids go to school in restaurants'?

Beth Greenfield
·Senior Editor
·7-min read

When the nation’s largest school system — New York City’s — canceled all in-person classes and went to full-remote learning this week, issuing a Wednesday afternoon announcement, it left parents scrambling, once again, to make arrangements and get psychologically prepared for more disruption in the midst of the never-ending COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision — based on a September reopening agreement between Mayor Bill De Blasio and the United Federation of Teachers that said the city would shut down all in-person learning if the average positivity rate hit and remained at 3 percent over a weeklong period, which it did — prompted exasperation and outrage. Particularly since NYC’s gyms, bars and indoor dining would remain open for the time being.

New York City parents protest, demanding that public schools remain open, outside City Hall on Nov. 19. They closed, while bars and gyms remained open, prompting widespread anger. (Photo: KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)
New York City parents protest, demanding that public schools remain open, outside City Hall on Nov. 19. They closed, while bars and gyms remained open, prompting widespread anger. (Photo: KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

In response to the closure, the parental-Twitter universe exploded with creative anger and sarcasm, NYC-style, with some of the longest threads prompted by New Yorker editor Jessica Winter, who posed the question of holding classes in still-open eateries.

Some took offense on behalf of restaurants, however, prompting even more back-and-forth.

That prompted a subsequent apology from Kera Bolonik, the editor-in-chief of Dame magazine who had suggested the “protest” in the first place — and also anecdotes that yes, indeed, eateries are being used as ad hoc classrooms, including a donut shop in Houston, Texas.

Others expressed pure anger at what they perceived as misplaced priorities.

Irony remained popular into Thursday.

Some stood up for the decision, though, including an art teacher who described harsh in-school conditions.

Former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden, who shared a Nicholas Kristoff opinion piece from the New York Times, discussing the havoc that remote learning can wreak for kids, kicked off a lively discussion of classroom safety and priorities.

A Tennessee mom pointed out the safety disparity between states...

… while Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, called the 3-percent mark “arbitrary.”

Still, some have spoken out, like the art teacher who tweeted, about the less-than-ideal learning environment in classrooms that had poor ventilation systems and kept windows open, despite cold and rain, to counteract this.

“The kids were freezing. We’re freezing. We can’t focus. Rain water was coming in,” an NYC teacher told CBS New York recently, adding that some of her students wore coats and sat up against heaters to stay warm. “The message to us was ‘Keep the windows open but blast the heat and bundle up,’” she said. “That’s just not a responsible response.”

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

Read more from Yahoo Life

Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.