School/education (263650)
School/education Credit: Pixabay

A COVID-19 linked illness impacting children could have an impact on education in the fall.

Reports indicate that as of Tuesday, May 19 nearly 150 New York City children have been diagnosed with Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) with 69 testing positive for COVID-19 or for its antibodies. One child has died. The Center for Disease Control confirmed the illness is linked to COVID-19. Symptoms for the illness include persistent fever, rash, hypotension, vomiting, diarrhea, swollen lymph nodes and abdominal pain.

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the issue during his daily COVID-19 press conference on Tuesday.

“When we look to the fall, when we look to everything we want to do to re-open schools, unquestionably, the number one factor will be safety––the health and safety of our children, our parents, our educators, our school staff,” he said.

De Blasio was asked about whether or not schools have been complicated by the emergence of MIS-C. The mayor said more needs to be known about the illness before getting an idea on how it will impact schools in the fall.

“Speaking as a parent and also as someone who believes the most important role I play is to protect people’s health and safety, and particularly our families, our children,” he said. “I’m very, very concerned. So yes, that information will absolutely be factored into any decision we make.”

Officials say schools will open in the fall as normal however if things prove to be unsafe, NYC students could see alternating days, staggered schedules and even a continuation of online learning. The beginning of the new school year is four months away and de Blasio says it’s too early to know what will happen in September.

“We will make the decision at the right time,” he said.

Meanwhile, as the school year closes, de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza announced the City’s summer learning plan. The Department of Education will provide academic support to approximately 177,700 students with remote summer learning. Officials also reported that 284,000 devices have been delivered to students.

“While this summer will be different than any summer we’ve had before, our remote summer learning model will keep our kids on track and ready to hit the ground running come September,” Carranza said. “I’m so grateful for our tireless educators and families who have adapted to remote learning and will continue to provide extra support to our students through the summer months.”

If a student is required to attend summer learning, their promotion to the next grade will depend on how well they do with summer coursework. Schools will begin to notify families in June if their student is being recommended or required to participate in summer learning. Students who they believe they need additional help to prepare for the next school year are also being offered summer learning.

Students in grades 3-8 will attend summer learning via remote instruction from July 13 to August 18 for four days a week and students in grades 9-12 will participate in remote instruction from July 13 to August 21 for five days a week.

“This, obviously, has been a constantly evolving situation, but there’s one thing that hasn’t wavered for a moment and that is that the City of New York is focused on accelerating learning and making sure that all students stay on track for continued success the next academic year, and that is not changing when this school year comes to an end,” Carranza said.