This morning, after dropping my two little ones at school, I stayed back to speak with their principal. She is a Black woman. The school is majority Black and is a @NYCSchools.

The school is pre-K-5. She’s been principal for 6 years and was the assistant principal before that. When I first met her, I knew my children would be taken care of. She’s the kind of principal who greets every child on the sidewalk in the morning. She knows every child’s name.
Last summer, she held virtual town halls for families describing plans for school reopening in the fall, including infection mitigation strategies in detail. These meetings would often last for almost 2 hours. We had about four of these meetings with opportunities for Q&A.
Towards the end of the summer, most families found out that we had the option of full remote or hybrid learning. And for some families, including mine. 5-days in-person was an option. Pre-K was offered as full remote or 5-day in-person (no hybrid option).
There was a waitlist for the 5-day in-person and when she had the opportunity, she created additional in-person classes. She told me today that she believes her students should be learning in-person and so she did what she had to do to make it happen for the youngest students.
She also spent a lot of time in conversation with her teachers about returning to school and what the expectations would be, but also how she would ensure their safety.
In terms of families that have chosen remote vs in-person, she shared that every family had different reasons and the differences did not necessarily boil down along racial lines.
Some families were indeed scared, other families kept their children home for convenience, and others felt safe sending their children back. More families are on the waitlist for 5-days in-person.
Since September, the school has closed once due to two unrelated cases in two different classrooms.
Yes, we must acknowledge the role that systemic racism has played and continues to play in this pandemic.

Yes, teachers should absolutely receive priority to be vaccinated.

Yes, the city should ensure that school buildings are as safe as possible (ventilation, etc.)
Yes, our city’s department of education missed a prime opportunity to perform outreach with Black families

Yes, families should absolutely have the option to stay home.

Yes, remote learning quality should be improved (along with ensuring access to tablets and Wifi).
Yes, every school district is different and this dictates whether school reopening can happen as safely as possible.

We can hold space for all of the above.
As a physician caring for patients with COVID19, as the parent of two little Black boys in NYC public schools, and as an health equity advocate, I know my perspective is unique.
We have to figure out how to have productive conversations about schools. It doesn’t have to be an either/or conversation.
You can follow @uche_blackstock.
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