"I did not want my children to be home again"

Once he finally returned, Hong said that it felt good to be back and that almost all of his students feel the same way. “In the past few days, it’s nice to just have a lot of small, little, normal organic interactions with kids. There’s so many kids that, during the pandemic, they were just a blank screen, you know? They just turned off their camera and their sound. They’re just a little black profile icon,” Hong said. “And all those students are students that are just a hundred times easier to reach in person. Just walk up to them and oftentimes you just show them a little bit of personal recognition and they open up really easily.”

Jake Jacobs, an art teacher in the Bronx, already has concerns about what he’s seeing in his school, echoing the fears that many had over the return to class as COVID cases have risen, in the city and nationally.

“I set up my classroom, we did all this work welcoming kids back and making them feel warm and fuzzy. And we just got our first case in school today,” Jacobs said on Wednesday. “We quarantined a whole class. Their parents are all getting notified right now. They’re gonna be out of school for ten days and we have to go online and provide asynchronous remote learning for them over those days while we’re in-person teaching all the other kids.”

He continued, “I’m cringing. This is upending all of these parents’ lives now and they’re all going to be scrambling to figure out how to keep their kid home. They’re gonna be worried that their kid is contagious with coronavirus.”

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