School Closed for the Rest of the Academic Year

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that New York City schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

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By Matt Melucci

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year on April 11 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. De Blasio’s announcement was a change from the initial closure of schools until April 20, which was later extended to April 29.

Despite de Blasio’s decision to close all New York City schools for the rest of the school year, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the decision will be up to the state in his press conference on April 11, reasoning that such a decision should be made in coordination with the rest of the Tri-State area. There has yet to be a resolution to the disputes against de Blasio’s claim.

Some students see school closures as a necessary step to protect public health. “If the state was banning gatherings of over 50 people at a time, it really didn’t make any sense to put 3,000 people in the same building. While this is a tough time for all of us, and especially the kids who don’t have access to the Internet, I think we needed to do this for the greater good,” sophomore Ari Gurovich said.

Sophomore Cyrus Cursetjee agreed, adding, “If we want to get [the pandemic] over with as soon as possible, closing schools is a good thing. Even if we make it optional, some people will still go to school. That would definitely prolong the time it will take to get the coronavirus situation under control.”

Because schools are closed for the rest of the school year, many student events and extracurriculars are negatively affected. “I was going to do outdoor track this season, and I was kind of excited for that because we had new ideas,” freshman Keara O’Donnell said. “For chorus too, we were going to have the spring concert.”

De Blasio’s announcement was particularly disheartening for seniors. “After everyone got into college, I really wanted to celebrate,” senior Vincent Huang said. “It feels incomplete. We worked for four years, but we’re not reaping the rewards of our work—it feels empty in a way. I’m excited for the next year and college, but for high school to end this way is unfortunate.”

This sentiment was echoed across the senior class. “A lot of fun events I looked forward to my senior year have been canceled, and I’m disappointed that I probably had my last day of school without even knowing about it. This is a sad way to end high school, and I don’t really get any closure,” senior Sam Rosentrauch said.

Many students are concerned about the continuation of remote learning due to extended school closure. “Our new normal has affected my learning in almost every way I thought it would. [T]hough I get my work done, the nature of the Internet simply distracts me. It has been draining,” freshman Alexander Lopez wrote in an e-mail interview.

Juniors, especially, are worried and speculating whether school closings will negatively affect components of their college applications, such as Advanced Placement (AP) tests, SATs, and their grade point average (GPA). “I'm worried about the future amplifications of the closing of schools, more specifically the college application process. I wonder if colleges are going to consider second-term junior averages less, as well as SAT/AP/SAT IIs,” junior Andrew Chen wrote in an e-mail interview. “As someone with a mediocre GPA, I was hoping to bolster my resume with SAT/SAT II/APs and use this semester to boost my GPA by a bit.”

The opportunity to interact with classmates is also heavily lost. “I'm missing out on meeting up with friends, eating from the halal cart, and walking around the city. I really miss the views of Manhattan and in general being outside,” junior Steven Lee said.

To make up for the loss of physical interaction, students have been finding new ways to stay in touch with their friends. “With everything closing down around me, I find myself missing all of the tastes of my neighborhood. I miss my friends as well, but it isn’t so bad as I can still enjoy group activities with them virtually, like Photo Roulette and group iMessage games,” junior Margaret Woo wrote in an e-mail interview.

Students are also trying to find the silver linings of remote learning, one being additional time to relax and refresh. “During the school year, I am fairly active, as I exercise regularly during my Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field seasons. However, I have actually found myself improving my stamina and health more so due to all of the free time I now have,” Woo said. “I have been eating healthier and trying out new home workouts, which seem to be very beneficial so far and have improved my overall mood.”

Many recognize that while online learning is far from ideal, they are fortunate to have access to the resources to communicate with others and continue their education. “I have readily available technology and [Wi-Fi] at my disposal, so I’ve been able to complete school assignments and such. What I’m missing the most are my friends and club meetings,” junior Sarai Pridgen said. “But given the circumstances, there’s no better alternative to missing [club meetings and school events] right now.”