Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Stephen Brier

Subject Categories

Educational Technology | Education Policy | Elementary Education | Elementary Education and Teaching | Emergency and Disaster Management | Health Policy | Infrastructure | Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching | Online and Distance Education | Other Teacher Education and Professional Development | Public Policy | Social Justice | Urban Studies


coronavirus, COVID-19, public education, educational inequality, remote learning


It was my fourth year of teaching at a Brooklyn elementary school when the COVID-19 pandemic forced school buildings, and the entire city, to enter a world of lockdown and quarantine. New York City was an early epicenter of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, and the virus quickly revealed severe racial and socioeconomic disparities across the city. A disproportionate number of cases, serious illnesses, and death has been experienced by low-income Black and Latinx communities. At the same time, 2020 also ushered in a national racial reckoning following the May murder of George Floyd.

In this thesis, I will provide a narrative capturing the realities of the New York City public schools during a one-year span: March 2020 to March 2021. As a Brooklyn-born Boricua, product of New York City’s public schools, and an elementary school teacher, this thesis will serve as a counter-narrative to what NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has touted as “the gold standard” for reopening the city’s public schools. I argue that the NYCDOE, under the mayoral control of Bill de Blasio, in fact exacerbated inequities that its most marginalized students faced throughout the pandemic. Long-standing issues, such as school segregation, poor infrastructure, the digital divide, and a lack of resources had intensified during the 2020 – 2021 school year which were particularly challenging to the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of Black and Latinx children.