According to a survey released by marketing research and consulting firm Ipsos, 71% of Americans say school districts should restrict the number of days students can attend school in-person as the nation’s children head back to class in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the state’s 700 school districts prepare for students to restart their education in the fall, questions are now arising over whether or not parents would even send their children back to class––even if experts give the green light.

On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that all New York State schools can open for the 2020-2021 academic year. The decision is based on the state’s COVID-19 infection rates.

Reports indicate that the Department of Health can deny plans from districts if the plans are unsafe. Cuomo added that if there is a spike in cases, he will reexamine opening schools.

School districts across the state, including New York City, are putting forth their plans for resuming some form of school next month, however, Cuomo said that he has not heard from parents about how they feel.

“Just because a district puts out a plan, doesn’t mean that if we reopen the school, parents are going to come or teachers are going to come,” Cuomo said. “It’s not, ‘Well the government said the schools are open––now everybody must go.’ It’s not going to happen that way. I’m talking to parents––I am telling you it is not going to happen that way. They are not going to trust the school district. This is an issue of public health.”

“Comfortable” is the key word Cuomo says is a major factor in opening public schools for all involved including parents, students, teachers and staff. While class may be in session, Cuomo says anxiety about children getting sick and parents becoming ill is a major factor in being able to educate properly and the conversations have to start now.

“Set up a discussion room now, start explaining to the parents now, have those conversations now, you can’t call people into a conference room but you can invite them on to a video chat or onto a chat room, but they have questions and they need answers and time is short,” he said. “That should start now because the parents are going to make the decision.”

Last Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced proposals for health and safety protocols, including guidance for testing and tracing, for schools for the start of the 2020-21 school year set for early September.

Both de Blasio and Carranza confirmed large orders of facial masks for students, teachers, and staff, disinfectant hand sanitizer and electrostatic sprayers. Staff members are taking COVID-19 tests days before the first day of school.

“New Yorkers did the incredibly difficult work reducing the risk posed by COVID-19, and as a result we’re in a better position than any other city in the country to safely resume in-person education under the current conditions and with clear, consistent health protocols,” said Carranza. “The safety and health of our school communities is always our first priority––before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic––and we will remain vigilant in monitoring health conditions this fall while driving toward academic excellence for every student.”

All schools will be required to enact precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including social distancing in classrooms, constant cleaning and disinfecting and a clear line of communication between schools and parents. Schools will also have isolation rooms for students showing symptoms and a dedicated staff member or health professional to deal with COVID at the school.

Students or teachers feeling sick will be required to stay home and, if their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, will be asked to get tested. Students experiencing symptoms in school will be isolated and monitored by a dedicated staff member until they are picked up by their parents or guardians.

If several cases are found in one classroom or school, the DOE has procedures in place to close classrooms and schools and switch to distance learning for up to 14 days depending on the situation.

“We are doing everything in our power to keep kids healthy while ensuring they are getting the education they deserve. These rigorous test and trace protocols will keep our students and staff safe as we start off this new school year,” said de Blasio.

Alliance for Quality Education Executive Director Jasmine Gripper said as both the governor, mayor and schools chancellor come up with a plan for the future of public schools, the people being impacted are not at the decision table.

“We know too well that if we fail to develop a comprehensive plan to address the educational, emotional and social needs of students, Black, Brown and low income children will be the ones harmed the most,” she said. “We must listen to the ideas from parents, students and educators to create a path to a just 2020-2021 school year.”

United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement that the mayor and schools chancellor said the proposal is not enough.

“We need randomized testing of school communities throughout the year and a vigorous contact tracing system that gives schools test results and a course of action with a 24-hour turnaround,” Mulgrew said. “What’s more, even if there are stronger safety standards in place, we still have grave concerns about the city’s ability to enforce them effectively in every school. Right now, this is not enough to protect students and staff.”

On Monday, parents, students and teachers gathered at UFT headquarters in Manhattan for the Day of Resistance for safe public school openings. Similar rallies were held in more than 33 cities that also called for a racially just plan on physically reopening schools.

“These are our children—and this system will not keep Black and Brown students safe unless we make them,” said Jitu Brown, national director for Journey for Justice. “If our demands are not met city by city and responded to by Trump and Biden, we support a parent and student strike. Equity or Else!”

The Day of Resistance aimed to also send a message to Pres. Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos who continue to say it’s safe and necessary to reopen public schools. Advocates say there is still inadequate funding, a lack of strict health guidelines or resources to address existing racial disparities.

“Amid a COVID-19 surge, Trump and DeVos’ attempt to force the full reopening of schools, together with the threat to withhold federal funding if they don’t—or even to transfer those funds to private schools, should be seen as nothing less than an attack on Black and Brown families and an attack on the public school system,” said Center for Popular Democracy’s Dmitri Holtzman.