Kids Belong In Classrooms This Fall

NEW HYDE PARK, NY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo should work with New York education officials and committees in the state Senate and Assembly to reopen schools this fall, Republican state Assemblyman Ed Ra wrote in a legislative column this week.

“As New Yorkers continue to crush the curve and infection rates remain extremely low across the state, it’s becoming increasingly clear that our kids belong back in the classroom this fall,” Ra said.

Ra, of Franklin Square, represents parts of Nassau County including New Hyde Park, Garden City, Mineola, Glen Head and Old Westbury.

Ra said one of the biggest problems with remote learning is accessibility, citing a finding from the Citizen’s Committee for Children that more than 150,000 children live in homes without Internet access in New York City alone.

“Every student deserves the resources to succeed,” Ra said. “Those resources are in the classroom.”

Virtual learning, he added, “really fails our students with special needs.” In school, professionals and educators can provide these students with specialized services.

But “replicating an individualized education plan at home is nearly impossible,” Ra said. “Many parents of children with special needs said that their kids experienced notable regressions in behavior and skill-building during the lockdown.”

Ra’s column also emphasized the importance of the “socialization aspect of education.” In school, he wrote, students can learn how to make friends, collaborate with their peers, connect with teachers and engage in art, music and athletics.

His column comes as Covid Act Now, a group of epidemiologists, technologists, health experts and public policy leaders, recently reassigned New York to a medium-risk level, indicating the state is no longer on track to contain the coronavirus. Ra’s remarks were also in response to Cuomo’s announcement that he would work with Microsoft founder Bill Gates to “reimagine education” with technology at the forefront. This announcement drew wide criticism from teachers and others.

Ra referenced such criticism and quoted from a New York State United Teachers statement: “Remote learning, in any form, will never replace the important personal connection between teachers and their students.”

This article originally appeared on the New Hyde Park Patch

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