(Bloomberg Opinion) — New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic last spring, and the largest public school district planning to begin at least some in-person instruction, has botched its reopening plans for the fall. Its mistakes are a cautionary tale for school systems across the U.S. that are struggling to balance the benefits of resuming their educational programs against the risks of spreading Covid-19.
Piecemeal planning and poor communication by the New York City education department prompted pleas from dozens of principals, districts and community councils to push back the opening date, and, finally, provoked the threat of a teachers’ strike. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the United Federation of Teachers eventually agreed to a delayed reopening, buying teachers about a week of planning time for what in most schools will be a mix of in-person and online education.
New York’s size and density make its challenges unusual,