Graduation Date

Fall 12-18-2020

Grading Professor

Michele Stephenson

Subject Concentration


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


When COVID-19 hit New York in March 2020, the city’s 1,800 public schools were forced to make a sudden pivot to remote instruction. The scramble to transition 1.1 million students to online learning brought unprecedented challenges for principals, teachers, students and families, leaving everyone eager for a return to “normal.”

For schools in low-income neighborhoods, and those serving students with disabilities, this disruption has been especially difficult. But as the months passed, it became clear that the pandemic was not ending anytime soon. Without clear guidance from the city, schools grappled with the uncertainty of how to safely reopen, and whether they even should. Despite union protests and nearly half of the district's families opting for remote-only learning, the city pushed forward with their plan to reopen.

The Long Return is a documentary film about these experiences. Through a mix of interviews and vérité vignettes, the 48-minute film follows principals, teachers and students at two New York City schools as they navigate the challenges of reopening for a new school year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Did we make the right choices and what lasting impact will this experience have on children and education overall?


Included in

Education Commons



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