When the mayor ordered New York City public schools to close in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Daniel Russo broke into tears. Ninety-six percent of children at the Walton Avenue School, a K-5 school in the Bronx he’d founded in 2013, face economic hardship, and about a third are homeless. Recently, Russo had seen a little boy wrapping up some of his school lunch. The boy explained he was taking the rest home for his father.
The closure meant kids would be out of class and have to survive for weeks on bagged lunches. But it was more than that. “I’m thinking about the kids who are at the door at 6:45 every morning,” he said, “looking for an adult who cares about them.”