Monday's return to New York City schools won't be the return anyone planned for. For most, it won't be a return at all.
Only pre-kindergarten and some special education students are scheduled to end a six-month absence from school buildings after a last-minute decision to postpone, for the second time, plans to be among the first big districts to resume in-person instruction after the coronavirus forced students and staff home.
School children in kindergarten through 12th grade are still starting the new school year on Monday, but fully remotely, the same way students in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and many of New York's other urban districts have.
After a fidgety spring of online pre-K, Jessica D'Amato's 5-year-old son has been so excited about going back to in-person school that he keeps asking: "When am I going to kindergarten?" First the answer was September 10. Then it was Monday. Now it's September 29, much to the family's frustration. High school students return October 1.
"I think that all the students are really, really at a disservice right now -- because of the uncertainty, because of the lack of in-person instruction," says D'Amato, 35, a public relations manager who lives in Brooklyn.