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What It Would Take for N.Y.C. Schools to Fully Reopen This Fall

It is not yet clear what options parents who are not ready to return to classrooms will have. The mayor has vowed to end the logistical morass of hybrid learning, which required alternating sets of students to cycle in and out of school buildings to allow for distancing. But as the virus situation has improved and good news about vaccines has piled up, he and Ms. Porter have been vague about the scope of online learning come fall.

It’s likely that there will be some kind of remote schooling, even if it’s limited to a small number of students who might be eligible because of vulnerable family members or medical or psychological reasons. The city might run such a program out of the Department of Education’s central office, or group remote students and teachers geographically, rather than having individual schools create their own remote options. Most Democratic candidates for mayor indicated last week during their first official debate that they would not support a full-time remote option this fall.

Even if all students return to school buildings, most schools will be able to fit them in classrooms — though not necessarily cafeterias and other common spaces — despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to maintain at least three feet of distancing, according to city and union officials. Still, experts said distancing may not be necessary at all as long as other safety measures like masking, frequent testing and good air circulation are maintained.

The C.D.C. has advised that schools maintain masking and distancing protocols through at least the end of this school year, though it’s possible middle and high schools will be able to loosen some of those protocols this fall for vaccinated students.

Mr. de Blasio said recently that the city was not planning to require eligible students to get a vaccine, but officials said the city would work with schools and pediatricians to help with parental consent and other logistics.

But vaccines alone will not get schools back to normal. Roughly 28 percent of teachers have been granted medical accommodations to work from home through June, which has prompted some large high schools in particular to offer only remote learning, even from physical classrooms.

That phenomenon, a glaring symbol of the contortions that hybrid learning has forced on schools, has been especially pronounced at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, where in-person students, monitored by aides, are taking classes taught virtually by teachers who are not physically in the classroom with them. Roughly 40 percent of teachers at Murrow, where Ms. Gomes’s daughter is a sophomore, are currently out on accommodation, among the highest percentages of any city school.

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