NYC public school students return to class amid lingering COVID-19 concerns

Hundreds of thousands of New York City schoolkids started their first day of in-person classes Tuesday greeted by teachers in face shields and having their temps checked at the door — the new order amid COVID-19.

Some parents rushed to complete required medical questionnaires in the middle of the schoolyard — then worriedly hung around to watch their kids walk single-file, socially distanced, through entrances.

“It is one step back towards normal — even though this is so not normal,’’ said Todd Ivins, whose 7-year-old daughter is in second grade at PS 196 in Forest Hills, Queens.

“I am fine with this. … We all had COVID, so we’ve been there, done that,’’ he told The Post.

Sow Mamadou, a 50-year-old cab driver who has a 10-year-old daughter in the fifth grade at PS 249 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, said, “It’s not safe, but we have to try.

“They said more people are getting the virus again,’’ noted the anxious dad, whose borough includes neighborhoods that have become recent hot zones of soaring coronavirus cases.

“As soon as I hear a cough or hear of any contamination, I am taking my daughter out right away. That is where I draw the line.’’

But Mamadou’s daughter laughed and said she was looking forward to getting back in the classroom.

“I’m ready to go back,” the girl said. “I love school, and I’m tired of staying home.”

It was the first day of in-school learning for children in schools K-5 and K-8  since the deadly pandemic shut down the Big Apple in March.

Students in schools grades 6-8 and high schools are set to return to on-site classes Thursday.

The start of in-person learning — which involves the same two days of on-site classes every week, plus one Monday every other week — comes after months of heated controversy and confusion over how best to re-open the largest public-school system in the nation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools chief Richard Carranza insist they have carefully weighed the need to get kids back to in-person learning against the health risks, while critics say the city has fallen far short of ensuring safety — while bungling the whole planning process along the way.

As it stands, only about half of the system’s 1 million students, or 520,000 kids, signed up for the offered mix of in-person and online learning, while the rest, roughly 480,000, have opted for online-only.

As part of the current safety measures, school workers and kids entering education buildings are required to have a health-screening form filled out beforehand.

The questionnaire asks such things as whether they have had any COVID symptoms, previously received a positive-test result, come into contact with others who have been infected or symptomatic or recently traveled.

School personnel wore gloves, masks and face shields as they handed out the forms.

Temperatures were randomly taken, as teachers doubled-up in face masks and shields.

“Good morning, everybody!” a PS 249 educator said to students walking into school Tuesday. “Good luck today.”

A male teacher at the school said he believes it is safe to return to in-person classes — at least at his school.

“Certain schools have the [safety] resources, some don’t,” he said. “This one does.”

But Lady Feliz, 35, whose 11-year-old daughter, Aliyah Diaz, was at the school Tuesday, said she isn’t so sure — nor is her child.

“I give the permission [for her to go] … but now she [is] crying,’’ the mom said of her daughter before school started.

She reassured the girl, “It’s safe, it’s only for a small group. It’s not everybody in the school, so don’t worry about it. Everything is gonna be fine.’’

Mayor de Blazio and Carranza visited PS 188 on the Lower East Side in Manhattan as it opened, elbow-bumping the masked kids there.

“I’m really happy school is starting up again,” said mom Keymani Hilman of Long Island City, Queens, whose first-grade son, Zahir, 6, attends the school.

Hilman said that before in-class learning, she was forced to leave her son with his elderly grandmother during the day so she could work.

“She’s older, it’s hard for her,” Hilman said of her mom. “So this helps.’’

Parents can switch schooling options for their kids in November, going from hybrid to all online or vice versa if wanted.

William Jones, whose 11-year-old son started in-person fifth-grade classes at PS 249, said he is already planning to move his child to all-remote because the dad fears potentially Draconian isolation measures if someone in the boy’s class gets the coronavirus.

“He did better when he was at home [during the shutdown],’’ anyway, Jones said of his son. “He was able to get his work done more, he was less distracted than he was at school with his friends.”

But Heather Isenberg, 47, whose 7-year-old daughter Lucy is in second grade at PS 196, said she wishes there was an all-in-school option.

“I would rather my kids be in school as many days as humanly as possible because for a second grader, remote learning has been impossible,” she said. “I’m working full-time from home.”

But she said it likely won’t matter either way in the coming months.

“I think we’ll probably get shut down because of all the spikes in the neighborhood,’’ she said.

Additional reporting by Amanda Woods

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