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“I feel that teachers are frontline workers as much as nurses and supermarket workers,” she said. “But if they are required to go back, they need to be protected.”

Ms. Sanchez, the parent in Harlem, would agree that remote learning had been frustrating for her son, and said that she had hoped to send him back into the classroom for his first year of high school. But questions just kept piling up: What would flu season be like? Would her school use a neighboring street for outdoor classes, which Ms. Sanchez believed would be unsafe?

The delayed start date, she said, validated her decision to opt into all-remote learning.

“If you’re changing the start date, that means you guys are not ready,” she said. “The way I’m thinking, there’s a lot of parents thinking that way, too.”

Frankie Brown is also worried about sending her children back into classrooms. But like many parents, she feels she has little choice.

“We don’t know how safe it is for the kids to go back to school,” she said. “But in my case, I’m a single working parent, so I’m kind of pushed against the wall. I have to actually put them back in school. That has me nervous, but I don’t have much option.”

Ms. Brown, a hospital clerk who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, is not sure which days her children will be attending school, and what they will do on days when she is at work while they are learning at home. She has applied for seats in a new city child-care program and for an after-school program at the Salvation Army, but still hasn’t heard back.

The feeling that there are few good options is pervasive among New York’s public school parents.

After months of deliberation, Jordan Smith, who lives in Sunnyside, Queens, recently decided to send her son to pre-K in person.



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