Here's What the 2020-2021 NYC Public School Year Will Look Like
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza released guidelines for how New York City public schools will operate for the 2020-2021 school year.
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How NYC Public Schools will Keep Students and Teachers Safe
“There's a lot of things that will change, but what will not change is our fundamental commitment to our children,” de Blasio said in the Aug. 10 briefing. “We've set very stringent standards. We have to meet those standards. If at any point the situation changes, I'll be the first to say it. But so long as we can meet those standards, we're going to be ready to serve our kids in September.”
Here are some key things to know about how NYC’s public schools will keep everyone safe:
Face masks and social distancing are required.
All people in every school building will be required to wear face coverings and stay 6 feet apart from others. Disposable masks will be provided to whoever needs them. Carranza told parent leaders that students who refuse to wear masks in school, with the exception of those who can't wear them for health or developmental reasons, will be sent home and prohibited from in-person learning, reports Chalkbeat.
The schools are severely limiting the number of students in the classroom at one time with the in-person learning models outlined above. Plus, the DOE is in talks with the diocese and archdiocese to use some of the former Catholic school buildings to give the public schools more room to spread out, according to de Blasio.
Schools will have hygiene supplies on hand.
The DOE is purchasing large orders of hygiene supplies for schools, including face coverings for students, teachers, and staff; disinfectant; and electrostatic sprayers. Hand sanitizer will be supplied, and everyone will have increased access to sanitation. Schools will be cleaned nightly. De Blasio also announced that every school building in New York City will have a certified nurse by the fall.
Systems will be upgraded so buildings have better ventilation.
“Everyone in the school building is working with extraordinary energy, including the custodial teams, School Construction Authority, everyone, to maximize health and safety in the building, and ventilation is absolutely a part of the puzzle here,” de Blasio said of ensuring every classroom is safe and has proper ventilation. “If any classroom we feel is not fit, we simply won't use it. We'll just segment it off and keep going until we do feel it's ready to go.” He also mentioned that in warmer weather, classrooms will have windows open to the maximum extent possible to improve the circulation of fresh air.
Parents won’t be allowed in school buildings, for the most part.
When asked about separation and issues with preschoolers transitioning into the school day, de Blasio said we have to be careful about parents coming into school buildings, so it largely won’t happen. “I can tell you many scenes from the childhoods of my children, where I thought in their youngest years, they were going to have a horrible separation experience and I was ready to stick with them and help them through, and what quickly became apparent is they couldn't wait to see their friends, and they said a very quick goodbye to me and ran into the classroom,” he said. “Our youngest kids are incredibly adaptable. …The first days as always will be a little bit challenging, but then we'll find a way to make it work.”
Test and trace protocols are in place.
On July 30, Carranza and de Blasio announced test and trace protocols that will apply to all school communities and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. All staff members will be asked to take a COVID-19 test in the days before the first day of school and will have priority for free, expedited testing at 34 city-run testing locations. All schools will be required to enact precautions to help prevent, identify, and address the spread of COVID-19, including:
- An isolation room for students with symptoms with a staff member or health professional
- Physical distancing and face coverings
- Cleaning throughout the day and nightly disinfecting
- Clear communication with families and the school community
If a student or teacher feels sick, they have to stay home and, if their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, get tested. If a student feels symptoms while at school, they will be isolated by a dedicated staff member until they are picked up by their parent. Staff members who became symptomatic at school must immediately leave the building.
“On top of having the medical personnel available to each school, we're going to have a very strong presence in our schools, from the Test and Trace Corps as well, to make sure in the event of any case that there's immediate follow-up at the school level,” de Blasio said.
The DOE is working with DOHMH and the NYC Test + Trace Corps to facilitate fast action and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Decisions to quarantine classrooms or close schools will be based off of the conclusions of potential investigations. The details of potential investigative conclusions are outlined below:
Parents might be concerned about how their kids will handle going back to school, and Carranza noted that schools will integrate social-emotional learning and “trauma-informed care” into instruction and prioritize providing students with mental health support. We will share more details on these plans as they become available.
Bookmark this page on your browser to check back for more information as the summer progresses. The DOE will also host a series of Family & Student Information Sessions, Carranza’s document says, to answer any questions you might have. You can follow NYMetroParents for school updates as well, and subscribe to our newsletter. This school year will be an unprecedented one, but we’re here to help you figure out the best decisions for your family.