When the coronavirus outbreak first erupted, the U.S. had no choice but to go to extremes in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. That meant forcing the closure of nonessential businesses, encouraging companies to have their employees work remotely, and shuttering schools.
Many schools managed to reopen for in-person learning in some capacity for the 2020-2021 academic year. And the New York City school district was one of them.
After going fully remote in March 2020, New York City schools welcomed students in September 2020 for in-person learning but also maintained a virtual option in an effort to afford parents flexibility and limit class sizes. Even so, in-person instruction was interrupted numerous times as schools were forced to shutter on an individual basis in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks.
But this year, things are different. Not only are New York City schools open at full capacity, but virtual learning is off the table. And that's not just good news for parents -- it can also benefit real estate investors.
Keeping students in the classroom
What does in-person learning have to do with real estate? A lot, actually.
In the course of the 2020-2021 academic year, many school districts failed to offer parents a full-time in-person learning option for their children. Lots of schools opened on a partial basis, forcing students into cohorts and taking essential childcare hours away from working parents.
The result? All this means many parents have struggled to get back into the labor force. That's left businesses like restaurants and retailers with a major shortage of workers on their hands -- and has, in turn, put some of those businesses in danger of permanently closing their doors.
And there lies the real estate impact. Many New York City businesses have already shuttered on a permanent basis since the coronavirus outbreak began, leaving commercial landlords with widespread vacancies to fill. The last thing those landlords want is for businesses teetering on the edge of closures to tip in the wrong direction. Now that New York City schools are open in full, businesses may be able to more easily solve their staffing issues -- and stay afloat.
Not only have New York City schools opened for full-time in-person learning, but the city's Department of Education employees are now subject to vaccine requirements that will force them to obtain an initial dose by Sept. 27. As is the case for companies requiring vaccines, accommodations will be made for those with valid health-related or religious exemptions. But enforcing vaccine requirements could help lower the likelihood of school closures, even if on a temporary basis.
Of course, the one wild card at play is younger students -- those who aren't yet eligible for a coronavirus vaccine. New York City schools aren't exactly known to be spacious, and packing students in close quarters could make it difficult to prevent the virus from spreading.
The Millionacres bottom line
Health experts are optimistic that children under the age of 12 will be able to get vaccinated before 2021 is over. But if cases among students explode, New York City's full school reopening could end up being somewhat short-lived.