'Stay Safe and Stay Open' aims for kids to return to school safely during COVID-19 spike

New York City schools' say they have a plan to ensure the return of students back into the classroom as the Omicron variant continues to push COVID-19 cases to record-breaking levels.
Through the "Stay Safe and Stay Open" plan, the Department of Education is asking all students to get tested before they return to classes on Jan. 3. However, some parents say that's easier said than done.
Lines to get tested for COVID-19 have wrapped around city blocks - with many residents waiting several hours just to get in the door. News 12 also saw pharmacies across Brooklyn sold out of at-home COVID-19 test kits.
Under the "Stay Safe and Stay Open" program, the state says it will be giving out 2 million take-home tests for students throughout city schools.
The plan is for students to take two of the at-home tests over the course of five days and only be able to report back to school if they are asymptomatic and test negative.
Some parents, however, are urging the Department of Education to give families a choice. They want to be the ones to decide whether they want to send their kids back to school or use remote learning for the time being.
"If there are parents who trust enough who want to be in person, listen, give them that choice. But for the parents who are really angry, who are really scared, which is the majority, take any poll any day, it is the majority. Give us that remote option!" said Farah Despeignes, the president of Community Education Council District 8.
The city was encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated by giving out $100 to families who book an appointment at participating sites in the city, but that incentive ended Friday.
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