New York's statewide teachers labor group, along with the New York State American Academy of Pediatrics, is set to launch on Monday a back-to-school campaign highlighting a return to in-classroom instruction five days a week this fall.
The effort is set to include a statewide TV ad and digital advertising campaign highlighting the return to the classroom as schools across New York face myriad challenges and uncertainties as COVID-19 cases have spiked over the summer.
The 30-second ad focuses on the benefits of in-classroom instruction, social interaction, and student development along with the health protocols in place. The ad is funded by a grant from the national American Federation of Teachers.
School districts are set to reopen in the coming weeks in New York, with education officials warily eyeing the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the virus. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in New York have risen this summer to more than 1,900 patients. Children under age 12 do not yet qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine.
And Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is elevated to the governor's office on Tuesday, has said she expects schools to have some sort of mask mandate in place for students, teachers and personnel.
School officials at the local level have struggled with the pandemic, including following proper social distancing guidelines and cleaning requirements.
The State Education Department earlier this month unveiled updated health and safety guidelines that largely embrace recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has backed mask-wearing indoors for the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.
The pandemic has been considered broadly disruptive to instruction for students, with many schools initially closing, and then holding instruction with some students at home remotely, others learning in person. Remote instruction has led to an uneven outcome for many students, especially those from low-income families.
Schools have received an infusion of aid from the state and federal government in recent months to help students catch up as well as provide mental health support for those who have struggled over the last year and a half.
“We know the best place for students to learn is in the classroom, and every student deserves access to full-time, in-person instruction this year,” New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said. “We support the health protocols recommended by health experts, including family pediatricians, and state education officials. With a layered, holistic approach in place that ensures the health and safety of everyone in our schools, our educators are here to welcome their students with open arms on the first day of school.”