880 IN DEPTH: Saving The School Year

WCBS 880 Newsroom
July 10, 2020 - 10:01 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — At a time when health officials across the country are racing to tamp down COVID-19 flare ups, here in New York the hot topic is how to open schools this fall.

As you might imagine, the issue is complicated, and like everything else in this pandemic enviornment, it’s gotten political.

President Donald Trump wants schools to reopen for in-person lessons. Health officials in many spots, including New York, are skeptical and New York's governor says it isn't up to the president. He reminded reporters this week that reopening schools was a state decision.

This week, the 880 IN DEPTH podcast takes a look at one particular model for schools in the fall.

We talked to the president of New Jersey’s Fairleigh Dickinson University.

FDU, as it is known, operates out of two campuses in Northern New Jersey and serves over 11,000 students. The school's president, Dr. Christopher Capuano, tells WCBS 880 “it will not be normal as we all had hoped."

"It will be a new normal," he said.

The school will open the fall semester on August 17th with three weeks of remote learning before opening up the campus for a hybrid of in-person and remote classes. Students will live on campus and dormitories will be the most difficult location to achieve social distancing.

The new model will include testing during the semester, and when positive cases pop up during the year, quarantine and contact tracing. Masks and social distance rules will be employed. The measures are for the safety of students, staff and educators.

Capuano believes the students will be up for the challenge. He tells WCBS 880 that “this is a wonderful life lesson."

Related: 880 In Depth: Reimagining College In The Age Of Coronavirus

"All they need to do is do the right thing," he says, and if they do, “history will treat them right."

The IN DEPTH podcast also tackles concerns about the impact of remote learning and concerns about an education gap that existed before the pandemic.

Ian Rosenblum is executive director of The Education Trust - New York — a non-partisan education advocacy group. Rosenblum told reporter Peter Haskell that before the pandemic, “our education system was driven by extrordinary inequities” on a wide range of measures, including things like level of instruction and access to special course work.

Too often, the inequities negatively impact students of color, and students from low income areas.

Rosenblum says we are right to be concerned about the impact of another semester of remote learning, but he believes that we also need to be addressing the eduation equity issue at the same time we work to get kids back into the classroom.

He tells WCBS 880 that we need to make sure we put programs in place, and use technology that allows for “all students” to find success in the system.

Stay informed, stay connected — follow WCBS 880 on Facebook and TwitterDownload the RADIO.COM app + favorite WCBS 880 for breaking news, traffic and weather alerts.