New York City officials announced last week that the city’s 1.1 million public school students will spend only 1-3 days in NYC’s public schools this fall in an effort to keep occupancy down and maintain social distancing. In response, Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos suggested using community centers, storefronts, private schools, and other venues vacated due to COVID-19 as spaces where students can learn remotely while under the supervision of adults on days when they’re not allowed in their schools. This plan, Kallos’ argued, will assist parents with childcare while allowing students to continue their education in a safe environment.
Great idea? Well, I don’t believe Mr. Kallos goes far enough. Here are some suggestions for other places New York City students can attend class while safely social distancing.
Madison Square Garden
With 20,000+ seats, the world’s most famous arena can safely accommodate a lot of students. And this may be the only chance most of these kids ever have to sit court-side at MSG. But final say will likely come down to James Dolan— he who won’t even let beloved players of the home franchise sit in his arena. This one’s probably DOA.
Staten Island Ferry
Wind at your back. Manhattan skyline overhead. Old syringes and dime bags littering the deck. A learning environment like no other!
Go to class in a petri dish and learn the importance of good hygiene during a pandemic.
It’s difficult for students to get to, constantly under construction, and lacks the infrastructure it needs to run efficiently. In other words, it’s not that different from NYC public schools!
A Startup Office in SoHo
Standing desks to work at and ping-pong tables when you want to blow off steam. Plus all the kombucha and accented water you need to keep you engaged during class. There’s even inspirational quotes on the wall, just like in school.
It’s big and corporate, which means it gets Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s stamp of approval. And the players who feel they’re getting shortchanged by MLB can moonlight as PE instructors. It’s a win-win!
Also big. Also corporate. But the best school lunch any of these kids have ever had.
Rich kids have had the run of the High Line for years. But since many of them will be returning to their spacious, well-ventilated private schools this fall, it’s time to let the public schoolers in.
Washington Square Park
American Dream Mall (in New Jersey!)
Let’s be real. This mall is cursed. Since breaking ground in the Meadowlands in 1994, it’s been through two bankruptcies, a myriad of ownership changes, construction delays, and lawsuits. And when it was FINALLY ready to open, a once-in-a-generation retail apocalypse happens.
So…maybe it’s time to pivot. I mean, there’s already a great playground!
It’s 1.8 million square feet of open-air convention space. And if things go awry, we already know it can be easily converted into a hospital.