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Here's What the 2020-2021 NYC Public School Year Will Look Like

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.

Updated July 31: New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill de Blasio continue to release guidelines for returning to NYC public schools for the 2020-21 year in letters to parents. Guidelines include safety precautions, schooling structure options and plans, classroom setups, mental health precautions, and testing and tracing plans. Before a school is allowed to reopen for in-person learning in any capacity, the district it is located in must meet the requirements of Governor Cuomo's formula, the results of which are due the week of Aug. 1.

Should the district meet the requirements of Cuomo's formula, the specifics of reopening will be left up to the state's 700 school districts, as long as they stay within the state's guidelines, which include:

  • Districts must implement screening, including daily temperature checks to monitor symptoms for both students and staff
  • Districts must notify state and local departments of health of positive cases
  • Schools must comply and participate in the NYS contact tracing program
  • Infected or exposed areas must be cleaned and disinfected
  • Schools must work with local health departments on potential closure of classes, areas, and buildings.
  • Safeguards must be enacted to protect the health of students and employees, using masks and social distancing
  • In-classroom instruction must be prioritized, specifically for students that need it the most
  • Districts must maximize the use of available space in schools as well as in the community to expand in-classroom instruction
  • Districts must focus on arts, career, and technical educations, labs, and other areas that are better for in-person instruction
  • Districts must use innovative models, such as community schools.

Regardless of the specifics the school district chooses, classroom attendance will be limited to one to three days a week, likely with no more than 12 people allowed in one classroom at a time. Rest assured, according to Carranza, kids will be learning five days a week.  Through Aug. 7, parents have the option to apply for remote-only learning for the fall by filling out this web form or calling 311, should they so choose. No medical reason is necessary for choosing this model of learning.

More than 300,000 iPads have been distributed to those who need them to help provide a quality, online academic experience for New York City students. NYC teachers are also being trained to be more effective online instructors. According to Carranza's announcement, the curriculum will be updated to reflect the blended learning model and to "include appropriate social-emotional learning and mental health supports." 

In order to make your decision easier, the city has prepared comparisons between each mode of learning in this letter to parents. If you choose all-remote instruction will have the option to opt back in to blended learning on a quarterly basis throughout the school year, beginning in November. Regardless of the model your family chooses, your child's schedule and learning experience will be managed fully by the school. You should expect your child to be assigned teachers from their school when they receive their full schedule. 

RELATED: What's a Pandemic Pod?

“Getting our kids back to school successfully and safely is the single biggest part of restarting our city. Parents have spoken clearly—they want their children back in school buildings to the greatest extent possible," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an update. "Our approach for the fall maximizes in person instruction while protecting health and safety of our students and educators."

De Blasio also announced that the city will offer free day care to 100,000 students for the days they are not going into school in person to help alleviate parents' stress of online learning.

How the 2020 NYC School Year Will Be Set Up

Families can choose whichever model works best for them, including an all-remote learning model, for any reason. These are the three models families can choose from:

  • Model 1: "Students will receive in-person instruction for the same two days every week, as well as every other Monday."
  • Model 2: Students will receive in-person instruction 1-2 days a week.
  • Model 3 (available to middle and high schools only): Allows "students to be in-person two days and remote four days in a six-day cycle."

District 75 schools will have two additional model options. Your child's school will choose which model is best for its students.

You can choose to receive remote learning only if you’re not comfortable with sending your child back to school. You must select that preference by Aug. 7. Once the school year begins, you can choose to go fully remote at any time. Students with IEPs will be offered in-person instruction to the fullest extent possible. Multilingual students, Carranza said, will receive instruction that will keep them progressing in both languages.

Timeline for the Return to NYC School

Aug. 7: Family Sign-Up for Remote-Only Closes

Aug. 14: Schools Submit Programming Model Choice

Aug. 21: Superintendents Approve Exceptions

How NYC Public Schools will Keep Students and Teachers Safe

All people in every school building will be required to wear face coverings and stay six feet apart from others. Disposable masks will be provided to whoever needs them; mask exceptions will be made for those who cannot wear them for developmental reasons. Schools will be supplied with hand sanitizer and everyone will have increased access to sanitation. Schools will be cleaned nightly, and systems will be upgraded so buildings have better ventilation. 

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. 

The DOE is purchasing large orders of hygiene supplies for schools, including face coverings for students, teachers, and staff; disinfectant; hand sanitizer; and electrostatic sprayers. 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 daily newsletter for a dose of summer fun inspiration every day that will help get you through the summer. This school year will be an unprecedented one, but we’re here to help you figure out the best decisions for your family.  

RELATED:  Check out our guide to safe summer fun as New York reopens


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