MetroFocus: September 9, 2020

Without a new $12 billion Transit Relief package, the MTA will be forced to slash subway and bus service in NYC by 40%. Is the estimate hyperbole or reality? Could such a dramatic potential cut in service lead to crowding and a 2nd wave of COVID-19? And what are the solutions? New York Times Transit reporter Christina Goldbaum discusses the staggering financial crisis, the stalemate in Washington and the future for New York.

Students at dozens of Long Island schools have returned to classrooms while in NYC school reopenings have been delayed from September 10thto the 21st following concerns that teachers and principals didn’t have enough time to prepare for the health, safety and instructional challenges for the unprecedented school year. And although schools will be issued a daily coronavirus report card as students return, whether learning in-person, remotely, or blended, this year’s return to school is loaded with plenty of anxiety for everyone involved. Tonight, the Child Mind Institute’s Dr. Harold Koplowicz, joins us with tips to help parents, children and educators cope with the anxiety as they head back to school.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL P. ROMAN.

THE SUBWAYS ARE FACING A FIVE-ALARM FIRE, THAT FROM THE MAN WHO RUNS THE MTA ITSELF AND THE HEAD OF THE TRANSPORT -- FINANCIAL CRISIS CONFRONTING THE MTA.

IS THAT HIYPERBOLE OR REALITY.

THE MTA SAYS IT'S SFASING A $50 BILLION DEFICIT.

UNLESS THEY GET BILLIONS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THE WORST CUTS COULD BE COMING.

ON TOP OF THAT THE MTA IS FACING CONCERNS FROM RIDERS OVER MASS TRANSIT BEING A SUPER SPREADER OF THE CORONAVIRUS AND INCREASINGLY OVER CRIME IN OUR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM.

SO WHAT IS THE REALITY AND WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS?

JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT ALL THAT IS 'NEW YORK TIMES' TRANSIT REPORTER CHRISTINA GOLDBAUM.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

THE PANDEMIC HAS OBVIOUSLY BEEN A CATASTROPHE FOR THE MTA.

THE AGENCY SAYING UNLESS IT GETS $12 BILLION FROM THE FEDS IT'S GOING TO HAVE TO IMPLEMENT WHAT'S BEING CALLED A DOOMSDAY PLAN.

WHAT'S IN THAT PLAN?

WHAT DOES IT ENTAIL?

THAT'S RIGHT.

SO LAST MONTH, PAT FOY, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE MTA ALLOWED WHAT WOULD BE THE WORST CUTS THE SYSTEM HAS FACED, CUTTING BUS AND SUBWAY SERVICE BY AROUND 40%. THAT MEANS WAIT TIMES FOR SUBWAY CARS WOULD BE UP EIGHT MINUTES, BUSES 15 MINUTES.

REDUCE COMMUTER RAIL BY 15%. THEY ALSO HAVE TO DO A AWAY WITH A LOT OF PLANNED INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS THAT ARE NEEDED TO BRING THE SYSTEM INTO THE 21st CENTURY.

THEY'D HAVE TO DELAY DOING UPGRADES TO THE SIGNALS ON THE SUBWAY WHICH ARE WHAT RUN THE SUBWAY SYSTEM AND WHAT HAVE BEEN THE CAUSE OF A LOT OF DELAYS IN RECENT YEARS.

THEY'D HAVE TO DO AWAY WITH PLANS TO COMMUTER RAILS IN PENN STATION, EXPANDING THE SUBWAY INTO HARLEM, PUT OFF BUYING ELECTRIC BUSES, SUBWAY CARS.

DO AWAY WITH ACCESSIBILITY GAINS LIKE ADDING ELEVATORS TO THE SUBWAY, ON-DEMAND SERVICE FOR PARATRANSIT RIDERS.

THESE WOULD BE DEVASTATING CUTS TO THE SYSTEM AND MAKE IT REALLY HARD IN YEARS TO COME TO GET RIDERS TO COME BACK.

IT DOES SOUND LIKE A DOOMSDAY PLAN, BUT IS IT REAL?

THEY'RE ASKING FOR $12 BILLION.

JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO THEY WERE ASKING FOR ABOUT A THIRD OF THAT, RIGHT?

AS YOU SAY, IF THEY IMPLEMENT THIS STUFF, RIDERSHIP WHICH THE MTA DEPENDS A LOT ON FOR REVENUE WOULD DROP.

IT WOULD BE A VICIOUS CYCLE.

IS THIS REAL OR AN OPENING GAMBIT INTO NEGOTIATIONS?

THE PICTURE THEY'VE PAINTED IS JUST THAT, WHAT COULD COME TO PASS.

EVEN THE SAVINGS WOULD ONLY BE ABOUT $1 BILLION.

IT DOESN'T REALLY BEGIN TO HELP THE SYSTEM DIG ITS WAY OUT OF THIS CRISIS.

THE MTA ASKED FOR $12 BILLION TO COVER ITS LOSSES THROUGH THE END OF THIS YEAR AND THROUGH THE END OF NEXT YEAR.

AS YOU SAY, BACK IN APRIL, MAY, THROUGH THE SUMMER THEY WERE ASKING FOR ONLY $3.9 BILLION TO COVER THEM THROUGH THE END OF THIS YEAR.

I THINK TWO THINGS ARE GOING ON.

ONE IS THAT THE SYSTEM IS FACING, AGAIN, THE BIGGEST CRISIS IN ITS HISTORY.

IF IT DOESN'T GET SOME FEDERAL EMERGENCY AID, CUTS TO SERVICE ARE INEVITABLE.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME I THINK WHAT WE'VE SEEN HAPPEN IN RECENT WEEKS, ESPECIALLY AS NEGOTIATIONS IN D.C. FELL APART IS A LITTLE BIT OF POLITICKING.

YOU KNOW -- REALISTIC THAT THE MTA WILL GET IN THE NEXT ROUND OF NEGOTIATIONS, WHAT THEY'RE KIND OF DOING IS SETTING UP A SCAPEGOAT FOR WHEN THESE INEVITABLE CUTS COME TO PASS.

I THINK IT'S LIKELY THE MTA WILL GET SOME FEDERAL DOLLARS IN THE COMING MONTHS OR HOPEFULLY BY NEXT YEAR, BUT EVEN WITH SOME FEDERAL AID, A REALISTIC AMOUNT OF FEDERAL AID, THEY'LL STILL HAVE TO MAKE A LOT OF THE CUTS THEY'VE OUTLINED BECAUSE THEY'RE IN SUCH DIRE FINANCIAL STRAITS COMING INTO THIS CRISIS TO BEGIN WITH.

IF THE FEDS GO TO THE MTA AND SAY WE'RE NOT GOING TO GIVE YOU $12 BILLION, BUT A GOOD SUM, BUT IN RETURN YOU HAVE TO DO SOME THINGS.

YOU HAVE TO OPEN UP THE BOOKS TO US, AND MAYBE YOU EVEN HAVE TO LET US OVERSEE THE WORKINGS OF THE MTA AND MAYBE EVEN LET US HAVE SOME CONTROL OVER SOME OF YOUR OPERATION.

WOULD THE MTA SAY OKAY?

I THINK RIGHT NOW THEY ARE SAYING WE WILL DO WHATEVER YOU NEED IN ORDER TO GET US FEDERAL MONEY BECAUSE THE ONLY WAY FOR US TO GET OUT OF THIS CRISIS IS TO GET SOME INJECTION OF FEDERAL EMERGENCY FUNDS.

BUT AGAIN, IT'S REALLY UNLIKELY THEY'RE GOING TO COVER ALL THE MTA'S LOSSES AT THE END OF NEXT YEAR.

$16.2 BILLION DEFICIT THROUGH 2024.

ABOUT THREE YEARS AGO YOUR PAPER HAD AN EXTENSIVE EXPOSE OF THE MTA, THE WORKINGS OF THE MTA.

AMONG THE THINGS IT SHOWED IS HOW MUCH MORE COSTLY IT IS FOR THE MTA TO RUN THAN OTHER COMPARABLE TRANSIT SYSTEMS AROUND THE WORLD.

I WONDER IF THE FEDS COULD GO AS FAR AS TO SAY TO THE MTA, HEY, WE WANT YOUR LABOR CONTRACTS TO BE REOPENED AND RENEGOTIATED.

COULD THEY DO THAT IF THEY WANTED TO?

WOULD THEY DO THAT?

I THINK RIGHT NOW IT'S ALMOST INEVITABLE THAT THERE'S GOING TO BE LABOR CONCESSIONS NO MATTER WHAT, WHETHER THE FED ASKS FOR IT OR WHAT.

ANY REDUCTIONS IN SERVICES GOES HAND THE IN HAND WITH SLASHES TO THE WORKFORCES.

IT'S A COMPLICATED ENDEAVOR.

THE UNION FOR MANY MTA WORKERS HAS BECOME VERY CLOSE TO GOVERNOR CUOMO WHO CONTROLS THE SUBWAY SYSTEM.

IN THE LAST NEGOTIATION THEY GOT A LOT OF CONCESSIONS THEY ASKED FOR.

SO I THINK THAT THOSE CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN THE GOVERNOR AND THE LABOR UNION ARE INEVITABLE.

WHETHER OR NOT THEY ACTUALLY RESULT IN THE KIND OF CUTS THAT ARE NECESSARY TO MAKE UP THIS HUGE BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT IS UNCLEAR.

YOU HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND THAT TRANSIT WORKERS WORKED THROUGHOUT THE HEIGHT OF THE CRISIS.

131 MTA TRANSIT WORKERS DIED, MORE THAN ANY OTHER TRANSIT AGENCY IN THE COUNTRY.

ASKING TRANSIT WORKERS TO GIVE UP ANYTHING RIGHT NOW IS A REALLY HARD ASK GIVEN WHAT WAS JUST ASKED OF THEM.

YOU SAY IT'S INEVITABLE.

JOHN SAMUELSON, THE INTERNATIONAL TRANSIT WORKERS UNION, A LOCAL LEADER FOR MANY YEARS, HE'S ALREADY SAID NO, HE'S NOT GOING TO DO THAT AND BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU SAID.

THEY ALREADY PLAYED WITH THEIR BLOOD.

MOST OF THOSE 131 WERE UNION MEMBERS, BUT YOU THINK HE'S GOING TO HAVE TO DO IT?

I THINK THE CONVERSATION IS GOING TO HAVE TO HAPPEN.

THAT'S THE KIND OF POINT WE'RE AT RIGHT NOW.

YOU HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND, WHEN THE MTA FACED PAST FINANCIAL CRISES, TYPICALLY WHAT THEY'VE DONE IS RAISED FARES, TRY TO CUT SERVICE, BORROWED MORE AND ALSO LOOKED FOR NEW REVENUE STREAMS, NEW SUBSIDIES.

RIGHT NOW ALL THOSE OPTIONS ARE PRETTY TOUGH GIVEN THE NATURE OF THIS CRISIS.

IF YOU RAISED FARES WHEN YOU ONLY HAVE 25% OF YOUR RIDERSHIP, THAT DOESN'T YIELD A LOT OF MONEY.

YOU'RE ASKING ESSENTIAL WORKERS AND WORKERS WHO ARE LOWER INCOME TO CONTINUE TO GO TO WORK AND PAY MORE WHICH IS A TOUGH ASKING.

REDUCING SERVICE COMES WITH HEALTH CONCERNS BECAUSE OF MORE CROWDED SUBWAYS.

THE STATE AND THE CITY ARE FACING THEIR OWN MASSIVE FINANCIAL CRISIS IT'S GOING TO BE REALLY HARD TO FIND REVENUE THERE AS WELL.

ON TOP OF ALL THIS, MAJOR SAFETY CONCERNS FACING THE MTA, BOTH IN TERMS OF COVID AND IN TERMS OF CRIME.

LET'S START WITH THE PANDEMIC.

HOW SAFE ARE SUBWAY AND COMMUTER RAILS RIGHT NOW FROM COVID?

WE LOOKED AT THIS A FEW WEEKS BACK.

RIGHT NOW I THINK THE SUBWAY IS MUCH SAFER THAN PEOPLE IMAGINE IT TO BE.

PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS DESCRIBED IT SAYING IT'S MAYBE NOT AS SAFE AS WALKING OUTDOORS BUT SAFER THAN EATING AT A RESTAURANT INDOORS.

THE MTA ESTIMATES ABOUT 90% OF RIDERS ARE WEARING MASKS.

PEOPLE DON'T TEND TO TALK TO NOT PRODUCING AS MANY VIRAL AEROSOLS.

BECAUSE THERE'S ONLY 25% OF THE USUAL RIDERS, CROWDING HAS NOT BEEN MUCH OF AN ISSUE DURING WHAT USED TO BE RUSH HOUR.

THERE'S ONLY A FEW OTHER PEOPLE ON MY SUBWAY CAR.

THE VENTILATION IS SURPRISINGLY EFFECTIVE.

WE DID A DEEP DIVE INTO HOW THE VENTILATION SYSTEM WORK, WE FOUND IT MANAGES TO REPLACE ALL THE AIR INSIDE A SUBWAY CAR WITH AIR FROM THE OUTSIDE THAT HAS BEEN FILTERED 18 TIMES A HOUR, EVERY THREE MINUTES AND 20 SECONDS.

THE CRITICAL VARIABLE THAT COULD CHANGE VERY SOON IS THE CROWDING ISSUE.

WHEN WE HAVE SCHOOLS REOPEN, WE HAVE BOTH KIDS AND THEIR PARENTS RETURNING TO WORK AND THE SYSTEM BECOMES MORE CROWDED, THAT MEANS IT COULD BECOME RISKIER.

IT REALLY DEPENDS ON RIDERSHIP AND THE IMPACTS OF THE CITY.

SOME OF THE SERVICE CUTS COME INTO EFFECT, THERE ARE PROBABLY GOING TO BE MORE CROWDED SUBWAYS BECAUSE THERE WILL BE LESS SUBWAYS.

EXACTLY.

LET'S TURN TO CRIME.

THE WHOLE COUNTRY HAS SEEN THE HORRENDOUS VIDEO OF A MAN SEXUALLY ATTACKING THIS WOMAN IN THE UPPER EAST SIDE, VERY WELL TRAVELED UPPER EAST SIDE SUBWAY PLATFORM, SATURDAY MORNING, 11:00 A.M.

IT WAS CRAZY!

IS THIS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE KIND OF THINGS GOING ON ON THE SUBWAY NOW?

SHOULD WE BE WORRIED ABOUT TAKING THE SUBWAY CRIMEWISE?

IT'S INTERESTING.

RIGHT NOW AS THE SYSTEM HAS EMPTIED OUT, WHAT COMES WITH IT IS A SLIGHT RISE IN CRIME.

FOR EXAMPLE WE HAVE SEEN ROBBERIES INCREASE, ABOUT 400 ROBBERIES ON THE SYSTEM SO FAR THIS YEAR COMPARED TO AROUND 300 UP TO THIS POINT LAST YEAR.

THERE'S BEEN AROUND 20 BURGLARIES COMPARED TO AROUND FIVE LAST YEAR.

THERE'S A SLIGHT INCREASE IN CRIME.

IN TALKING TO FOLKS IN THE TRANSIT BUREAU OF THE POLICE FORCE, IT SEEMS PART OF THAT -- WHEN YOU DO HAVE AN EMPTIER SUBWAY SYSTEM AT ALL TIMES OF DAY AND NIGHT, THEY'RE NOT SURPRISED TO SEE A SLIGHT RISE IN CRIME.

THE POLICE SAID THEY'RE BEGINNING TO MONITOR AND SURVEIL SUBWAY CARS MORE, KEEPING THIS IN MIND.

IT SEEMS TO GO HAND IN HAND WITH, AS IT'S EMPTY -- AGAIN, GETTING BACK TO THIS QUESTION OF HOW DOES THE SUBWAY SYSTEM SURVIVE THE CRISIS.

IF WE CONTINUE TO SEE THIS TREND WHERE CRIME IS ON THE RISE, IT'S GOING TO AGAIN BE HARDER AND HARDER TO COME BACK TO THE SYSTEM.

PEOPLE ALREADY HAVE CONCERNS AROUND PUBLIC HEALTH.

THEY'RE ALSO THINKING NOT ONLY IS IT DANGEROUS BECAUSE OF THE CORONAVIRUS, BUT ALSO AN INCREASE IN CRIME, IT'S GOING TO BE A HARD SELL TO GET PEOPLE TO COME BACK TO A SYSTEM ESPECIALLY IF THERE'S CUTS AND FARE HIKES ON TOP OF THAT, TOO.

WE TRANSIT ADVOCATES AND ADVOCATES CALL A DEATH SPIRAL TRANSIT.

BECAUSE YOU'RE IN A HUGE FINANCIAL CRISIS, YOU HAVE TO CUT SERVICE AND RAISE FARES AND AT THE SAME TIME ASKING PEOPLE TO COME BACK TO THE SYSTEM.

THAT BECOMES A REALLY HARD SELL.

THE LONGER THEY DON'T COME BACK, YOU'RE NOT GETTING THE FARE REVENUE.

THE MTA OPERATING BUDGET DEPENDS 40% ON FARE REVENUE.

WE TALK ABOUT RIDERSHIP COMING BACK OR NOT.

AS KIDS GO BACK TO SCHOOL, PEOPLE HAVE TO GO BACK TO THEIR WORKPLACE TO WORK, MAYBE NOT AS IT WAS BEFORE COVID, PEOPLE -- LET ME PUT IT THIS WAY, DO MOST NEW YORKERS REALLY HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION?

A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T, AND WE SEE THAT.

THIS IS WHY RIDERSHIP IS STILL AT 25%. PEOPLE HAVE TO TAKE THE SUBWAY TO GET TO WORK.

WHAT WE'RE ALSO BEGINNING TO SEE IS THAT THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE TO TAKE THE SUBWAY ARE STARTING TO LOOK AT OTHER WAYS OF GETTING AROUND THE CITY.

JUST IN JULY, THE DMV SAW A 30% INCREASE IN CARS REGISTERED IN NEW YORK CITY.

WE'VE SEEN FROM CAR SALES UP IN THE CITY AS WELL.

I THINK IT'S SAFE TO SAY THERE IS A PORTION OF FOLKS WHO ARE LOOKING AT DRIVING TO WORK RATHER THAN TAKING THE SUBWAY OR TAKING A BUS TO GET THERE.

BIKE SALES HAVE ALSO BOOMED, SCOOTER SALES HAVE BOOMTD, E BIKES ARE ALSO UP IN THE CITY.

PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT WAYS TO AVOID PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.

WHAT WE'RE ALSO SEEING IS TRAFFIC HAS INCREASED.

THE TRAFFIC GOING INTO MANHATTAN, THOSE LEVELS ARE ALREADY AT NEARLY PREPANDEMIC LEVELS AND EVERYBODY ISN'T BACK TO WORK.

THE CONGESTION IS GOING TO BE A PROBLEM.

TO TRY TO GET NEW REVENUE FOR THE MTA AND CRACK DOWN, IT'S BEEN SKAULD.

THE MTA HASN'T SAID WHAT KIND OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROCESS TO USE MOVING FORWARD WITH THE PLAN.

THERE IS A MASSIVE CONCERN OF THIS CARMAGEDDON WHERE YOU HAVE GRIDLOCK ACROSS MANHATTAN.

WE HAVE 20 SECONDS LEFT.

WHAT'S YOUR BEST GUESS?

TWO YEARS FROM NOW WHAT'S THE SUBWAY SYSTEM GOING TO LOOK LIKE RIDERSHIP WISE AND SERVICEWISE?

TEN SECONDS?

RIDERSHIP IS DOWN -- DELAYING UPGRADES FOR YEARS AND YEARS TO COME.

ALL RIGHT.

CHRISTINA, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

WE'LL HAVE TO END IT THERE.

WE'LL ASK YOU BACK.

THANK YOU.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

ACROSS THE TRI-STATE AREA AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY, FAMILIES ARE EMBARKING ON A NEW SCHOOL YEAR UNLIKE ANY OTHER.

WHETHER STUDENTS ARE LEARNING REMOTELY OR IN PERSON OR THROUGH SOME COMBINATION OF THE TWO THERE'S AN EXTRAORDINARY LEVEL OF CONCERN, UNCERTAINTY AND INDEED ANXIETY.

HOW DO WE DEAL WITH ALL THAT?

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE JOINING US SOMEBODY WHO CAN PROVIDE SOME INFORMATION, SOME TIPS FOR NOT JUST STUDENTS BUT ALSO FOR PARENTS AS TO HOW TO HANDLE THIS UPCOMING SCHOOL YEAR AND THESE UNCERTAINTIES.

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE DR. HALL COP WITS, A RENOWNED ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRIST AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE.

DOCTOR, WELCOME, ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE YOU.

JACK, IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU.

YOU'VE GOT A LOT OF POINTERS FOR US HERE.

I'M GOING TO GET TO THEM IN A MINUTE.

LET'S SET THE STAGE FOR THE CONVERSATION WE'RE GOING TO HAVE.

LET'S FOCUS FIRST ON STUDENTS AND THEN PARENTS.

FOCUSING FIRST ON STUDENTS, YOU TALK ABOUT TWO AREAS OF MAJOR CONCERN FOR CHILDREN.

ONE YOU REFER TO AS A SEPARATION ANXIETY CONCERN, AND THE OTHER IS THE CONCERN THAT CHILDREN ARE GOING TO HAVE -- FOR SAFETY, FORGETTING OUT THERE IN THE WORLD.

TALK FIRST ABOUT WHAT YOU MEAN BY THE SEPARATION ANXIETY.

LET'S THINK ABOUT THE FACT THAT THERE IS A PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN ON A GOOD DAY WHO HAVE AN ANXIETY DISORDER.

IN FACT, LET'S REMEMBER THAT MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS ARE THE MOST COMMON ILLNESSES OF CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE.

THERE ARE 17 MILLION, ONE OUT OF FIVE KIDS, STRUGGLE AND SUFFER WITH ONE OF THESE DISORDERS.

THE NUMBER ONE DISORDER IS AN ANXIETY DISORDER.

THESE ARE KIDS WHO WORRY ABOUT THE SAFETY OF THEIR PARENTS, THAT SOMEHOW THEY'LL BE A THREAT TO THE INTEGRITY OF THEIR FAMILY, THAT SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN.

THEY HAVE TROUBLE UPON SEPARATION, SO GOING TO SCHOOL, GOING TO SLEEP, SLEEPING OVER.

FOR THE PAST SIX MONTHS, THEY HAVE BEEN AT HOME.

THEY HAVE LOTS OF ACCESS TO THEIR PARENTS.

THEY DON'T HAVE TO SEPARATE, AND THERE'S ALSO A GROUP OF KIDS WHO HAVE PATHOLOGICAL SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS WHEN THEY HAVE TO CEREBRAL LIES.

THESE KIDS HAVE BEEN AVOIDING THAT.

ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU HAVE THIS SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT GROUP OF KIDS WHO HAVE TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL.

THEY HAVE TO SEPARATE FROM MOM AND DAD.

SO IT IS PARTICULARLY DIFFICULT BECAUSE IT'S BEEN SIX MONTHS.

IT'S KIND OF -- IMAGINE HOW HARD IT IS FOR KIDS AFTER CHRISTMAS VACATION OR A NORMAL SUMMER VACATION.

HERE WE'VE BEEN DOING THIS SINCE MARCH, THE SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN CLOSED.

SO FOR THOSE KIDS, GOING BACK TO SCHOOL IS GOING TO BE VERY, VERY TOUGH.

THERE'S GOING TO BE A LOT OF ANTICIPATORY ANXIETY.

THESE KIDS ARE ALREADY SUFFERING, IF SCHOOL IS STARTING TOMORROW OR NEXT WEEK, THEY'RE ALREADY SUFFERING BECAUSE THEY'RE WORRIED.

YOU WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED TO SEE THESE KIDS MAYBE HAVE STOMACH ACHES, HEADACHES, TELL THEIR PARENTS THAT THEY MAY HAVE A FEVER.

THEY JUST DON'T WANT TO BE APART FROM THEIR PARENTS.

THAT'S ONE GROUP.

HOW ABOUT -- LET ME GET TO THE NOTION OF SAFETY AND CONCERNS FOR SAFETY.

FOR MONTHS NOW WE'VE BEEN TELLING OUR CHILDREN, BE CAREFUL, YOU CAN'T GO NEAR PEOPLE.

THERE'S SICKNESS.

MY GRANDSON -- MY 5-YEAR-OLD GRANDSON SAID TO ME THE OTHER DAY, HE SAID, SO, WHEN THE SICKNESS GOES AWAY, CAN WE GO BACK TO THIS LITTLE MUSEUM.

I THOUGHT IN THEIR LITTLE MINDS TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE SICKNESS HERE.

NOW WE'RE SAYING TO THEM, OKAY, LET'S GO BACK OUT.

IT'S WORSE THAN THAT, JACK.

WE'RE SAYING GO BACK AND BE CAREFUL.

THERE'S STILL A VERY CATCHY OR CONTAGIOUS VIRUS OR SICKNESS OUT THERE, THAT THEY HAVE TO WASH THEIR HANDS AND SING HAPPY BIRTHDAY TWICE.

THEY HAVE TO WEAR A MASK.

TAKE A BASELINE, AN ANXIOUS CHILD AND TELL THEM THEY HAVE TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL WITH ALL THESE PRECAUTIONS.

YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHY MOM AND DAD AND THE CHILD ARE ALL GOING TO BE QUITE ANXIOUS.

YOU ALSO CAN TAKE A HAPPY-GO-LUCKY TYPICALLY DEVELOPING CHILD AND THEY'RE GOING TO BE A LITTLE MORE WORRIED THAN USUAL.

SO FOR PARENTS, PARENTS HAVE TO BE ASSURED THAT THE SCHOOL IS SAFE, THAT THEIR KIDS WILL BE ABLE TO WEAR A MASK OR WASH THEIR HANDS OR THEY'LL BE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND THERE ARE PRECAUTIONS THAT THEIR CHILD WILL NOT BE PUT AT RISK AND THEIR CHILD IS NOT PUTTING THEM OR THEIR GRANDPARENTS AT RISK FORGETTING COVID.

THEREFORE, PARENTS DON'T HAVE TO SHARE ALL THEIR WORRIES WITH THEIR KID.

THERE HAS TO BE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF YES, WHEN THE SICKNESS IS GONE, WE'RE GOING BACK TO THAT MUSEUM AND GETTING ON TOP OF IT.

THE WAY WE PROTECT EACH OTHER IS BY WEARING MASKS, BY WASHING HANDS AND WE, THE ADULTS, ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING.

IF A PARENT E CAN'T FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THAT, THEY'LL HAVE TO FIND SOME ALTERNATIVE TO SCHOOL BECAUSE ANXIETY IS VERY CONTAGIOUS.

THEIR KID WILL PICK UP ON YOUR WORRY AND YOUR ANXIETY.

THERE'S NOTHING WRONG BE SAYING I HAVE CONCERN -- THE FACT THE SCHOOL IS DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE.

EITHER TESTING OR TAKING YOUR TEMPERATURE EVERY DAY OR THEY'RE DOING ALL THE THINGS BETWEEN US AND THEM TO MAKE SURE YOU'RE SAFE.

ONE OF THE THINGS I ALWAYS ENJOY ABOUT OUR CONVERSATIONS -- AND YOU AND I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR DECADES NOW -- IS THAT YOU BRING TO THESE CONVERSATIONS SOME TIPS, SOME POINTERS SAYING, OKAY, HERE IS THE PROBLEM, HERE IS HOW YOU DEAL WITH IT.

LET ME TAKE YOU THROUGH SOME OF THESE.

YOU MENTIONED THE VALIDATING OF HOW THE CHILD IS FEELING, SETTING THE TONE FOR THEM.

ONE OF THE THINGS YOU TALK ABOUT IS HELPING THE CHILDREN TO THINK POSITIVELY.

HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KIDS AND MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOLCHILDREN.

WE SHOULD SPLIT THAT UP.

THEY'RE DEVELOPMENTALLY DIFFERENT.

BEING POSITIVE IS A MATTER OF WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN SCHOOL TODAY.

I WOULD ALWAYS SUGGEST TO THE PARENT, WHEN YOU'RE DRIVING YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL, WALKING YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL, DON'T ASK THEM WHAT THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT.

THAT'S OPENING A PANDORA'S BOX.

ASKING THEM, WHAT IS THE GOOD THING THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN SCHOOL TODAY?

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ACTIVITY GOING TO BE TODAY AND MAKING SURE WHEN THE SCHOOL DAY ENDS, ASKING WHAT GOOD THING HAPPENED TODAY, IS A GOOD WAY TO START.

IT MEANS WE HAVE TO MODEL.

ONE OF THE THINGS I WOULD TELL EVERY PARENT IS DURING THIS PANDEMIC, GRATITUDE IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

THEY SHOULD FIND TIME AT THE DINNER TABLE OR BREAKFAST TABLE TO SAY WHY THEY FEEL LUCKY AND WHY THEY FEEL THANKFUL.

THAT'S THE WAY TO GET A CHILD TO FEEL MORE POSITIVE.

BY THE WAY, MOST CHILDREN WANT TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL.

THEY HAVE BEEN DYING TO SOCIALIZE WITH THEIR FRIENDS AND BE AWAY FROM THEIR PARENTS JUST A LITTLE BIT, NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY LOVE GRANDMA AND GRANDPA AND THEIR PARENTS.

THEY WANT TO BE BACK AT SCHOOL.

LOTS TO BE POSITIVE ABOUT.

PARENTS HAVE TO HIGHLIGHT THAT FOR THEM INSTEAD OF HIGHLIGHTING THE WORRIES AND CONCERNS.

YOU HAVE OTHER TIPS.

ON THE SURFACE YOU MIGHT SAY THESE SOUND CONTRADICTORY BUT THEY'RE CLEARLY NOT.

ONE THING IS TO HAVE A ROUTINE, BUT ALSO ENCOURAGE SOME DEGREE OF FLEXIBILITY.

EXPLAIN THOSE TWO.

THINK ABOUT IT.

FOR MANY PARENTS WHO HAVE HAD THEIR KIDS ONLINE FOR EDUCATION, AND THERE WILL BE MANY PARENTS WHO WILL CONTINUE THIS, WHO WILL NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE, THE DAY COULD BE IN PAJAMAS THE WHOLE DAY LONG.

THE WHOLE DAY COULD FEEL LIKE A RAINY SATURDAY.

INSTEAD, EVERY DAY WE SHOULD WAKE UP THE AT THE SAME TIME, WASHING OUR FACE, BRUSHING OUR TEETH, HAVING BREAKFAST AND GETTING SET FOR THE DAY, WHETHER IT'S IN FRONT OF THE SCREEN OR WALKING TO SCHOOL, IT'S A MATTER OF THIS IS WHAT THE DAY IS LIKE BECAUSE SCHOOL IS WORK AND WE HAVE TO WORK TODAY.

THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT.

AT THE SAME TIME, WE NEED SOME FLEXIBILITY.

IF THE SCREEN FREEZES, IF YOUR KID HAS A HEADACHE, IF ALL OF A SUDDEN THE CHALLENGES OF THE LESSON ARE TOO MUCH ON THE SCREEN, WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO TAKE BREAKS AND SAY DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT, WE'LL FIX THIS AND FIGURE OUT ANOTHER WAY FOR YOU TO LEARN THIS PIECE OF INFORMATION.

REMEMBER, THERE ARE MANY PARENTS WHO ARE WORKING SIMULTANEOUSLY TO HAVING THEIR CHILDREN BE EDUCATED ON A SCREEN.

THIS IS A TRIPLE WHAMMY.

THEY WORK, THEY'RE A PARENT AND NOW AN ASSISTANT TEACHER.

WE HAVE TO BE FLEXIBLE AND UNDERSTANDING TO OURSELVES AND TO OUR CHILDREN, THE DEMANDS WE'RE PUTTING ON OUR CHILDREN.

WE'RE TALKING WITH DR. HALL COP WITS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE WITH TRIPS FOR GOING BACK TO SCHOOL.

YOU MENTIONED EARLIER A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AGE AND THE MIDDLE AND ESPECIALLY THE HIGH SCHOOL.

TALK MORE ABOUT THE MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL AGE AND WHAT THEY BRING IN TERMS OF CHALLENGES FOR THIS TYPE OF SCHOOLING.

LET'S REMEMBER THAT ADOLESCENCE IS AN INCREDIBLY EXCITING TIME TO LEARN BUT ALSO GET BAD HABITS, BUT ALSO WHERE OPPORTUNITY TRUMPS RISK.

THERE'S A REASON YOU -- EVEN THOUGH YOU CAN DRIVE WHEN YOU'RE 18.

THEY RECOGNIZE, THEY GO OVER THE SPEED LIMIT, THEY DON'T THINK ABOUT CAUSE AND EFFECT.

SO THEY WILL BE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT GOING BACK TO SCHOOL, BUT THEY COULD VERY EASILY FORGET ABOUT THE RULES AND REGULATIONS.

WE'RE SEEING THAT IN COLLEGES ACROSS THE COUNTRY WHERE SMART KIDS ARE DOING STUPID THINGS.

THAT'S GOING TO REQUIRE PARENTS TO CHECK IN WITH THEIR KIDS A LOT FOR TWO REASONS.

ONE, TO MAKE SURE THEY'RE ABLE TO FOLLOW THOSE RULES.

REMEMBER WHEN YOUR MOTHER SAID, YOU KNOW, I WANT TO BE JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, AND YOUR MOTHER SAID, WELL, JACK, IF EVERYONE JUMPS OFF THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE, WOULD YOU -- MOST PROBABLY.

FIRST OF ALL, ALL OUR MOTHERS SAID THAT TO YOU.

AND SECONDLY, THE ANSWER IS YEAH, PROBABLY.

THEREFORE, WE HAVE TO BE THE CONSCIENCE FOR OUR KIDS, REMINDING THEM IT'S DANGEROUS TO JUMP OFF THE BRIDGE, DANGEROUS TO TAKE OFF THE MASK, DANGEROUS TO HOOK UP.

THE OTHER THING WE CAN BE FOOLED BY IS OUR TEENAGERS CAN LOOK LIKE THEY'RE HAVING A GREAT TIME AND EVERYTHING IS FINE.

I WOULD RECOMMEND TO PARENTS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL AGED KIDS, CHECK IN MORE FREQUENTLY.

ASK THEM HOW THEY'RE FEELING AFTER SCHOOL, NOT BEFORE SCHOOL.

ASK THEM HOW THEY'RE DOING WITH THEIR SUBJECTS.

IS IT DIFFICULT TO BE IN SCHOOL AND NOT TOUCH PEOPLE?

IS IT HARD NOT TO HAVE LUNCH?

REALLY TRY TO MAKE CONNECTIONS.

REMEMBER, THOSE CONNECTIONS ARE SMALL CONNECTIONS.

DO NOT GO INTO LECTURE MODE.

ASK A FEW QUESTIONS, AND IF YOU DON'T GET THE ANSWERS YOU WANT OR YOU DON'T HAVE THE ENGAGEMENT YOU WANT, LET IT GO AND PICK IT UP A LITTLE LATER.

NOTHING WORSE THAN A LECTURE TO KILL A CONVERSATION.

I DO WANT TO -- LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

I DO WANT TO TOUCH BASE WITH SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION, THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE IS DOING IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.

I FOUND IT FASCINATING.

GIVE ME A SENSE OF SOME OF THE ACTIVITIES THAT YOU'RE ENGAGED IN WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.

LET'S REMEMBER THAT NEW YORK CITY HAS THE LARGEST PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM IN THE WORLD.

AND I THINK IT'S REMARKABLE WITH EVERYTHING THEY HAVE TO DO, THAT THEY ARE RECOGNIZED THIS IS GOING TO BE A DEMANDING YEAR PSYCHOLOGICALLY FOR THEIR STUDENTS.

SO WE'VE ESTABLISHED A PROGRAM WITH THEM WHERE WE'RE OFFERING WEBINARS THAT HOPEFULLY EVERY EDUCATOR IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM WILL SEE AS TO HOW TO UNDERSTAND ANXIETY, HOW TO UNDERSTAND BASIC CHILD MENTAL HEALTH 101 AND SO THEY ARE BETTER PREPARED TO RECOGNIZE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS IF THEY COME UP WITH ANXIETY IN THEIR STUDENTS.

NUMBER TWO, WE DECIDED TO DEVELOP AN EDUCATOR HELP LINE.

IF THEY FEEL LIKE THEY'RE HAVING TROUBLE WITH CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT, IF THEY SEE A CHILD THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT, IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT WITHOUT ANY RED TAPE THEY CAN GET ON THE PHONE AND GET A TRAINED CLINICIAN TO TALK TO THEM FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES TO RECOGNIZE WHETHER OR NOT THIS IS REAL PATHOLOGY OR THIS IS REACTION TO COVID OR IF THIS IS JUST NORMAL DEVELOPMENT.

THIRD WE'VE DEVELOPED WELLNESS TOOL KITS WHICH ARE A DIGITAL VERSION OF THE SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING THAT WE GIVE TO TEACHERS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.

THIS WAY THEY'RE BETTER PREPARED THAN EVER BEFORE WHICH IS REALLY WHAT THEY NEED THIS YEAR.

IT'S ALMOST LIKE THE FIRE DRILL.

THEY HAVE NEW TOOLS IN THEIR TOOL BOX SO WHEN THIS YEAR STARTS, THEY KNOW THAT THEY ARE MORE REASSURED ABOUT THEIR ABILITY TO TEACH THESE KIDS.

I THINK THE BOTTOM LINE FOR ALL OF US, AS ALWAYS FROM YOU WONDERFUL IDEAS AND POINTERS, THE BOTTOM LINE IS THERE ARE PLACES TO GO FOR HELP IF YOU NEED HELP AS A PARENT AND AS A TEACHER.

ONCE AGAIN, DR. HALL COP WITS, ALWAYS A PLEASURE TALKING WITH YOU.

WE ALWAYS LEARN SO MUCH.

YOU BE WELL.

WE'LL TALK AGAIN SOON.

YOU, TOO, JACK.

STAY WELL.

TAKE CARE.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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