Here's What the 2020-2021 NYC Public School Year Will Look Like
Here's the latest on what's happening at NYC schools during the 2020-2021 school year.
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Once the school year begins, you can choose to go fully remote at any time. We now know that 74 percent of NYC students will participate in in-person learning and 26 percent will begin the school year in fully remote learning. “We can expect about eighty-five percent of our teacher workforce or about sixty-six thousand educators to be teaching in a blended mode as well,” Carranza said in the Aug. 10 briefing. Approximately 15 percent of teachers have requested to work from home. "Those who are granted that accommodation will exclusively teach remotely but…they will still be engaged and devoted as ever to educating the children of New York City, because that's who they are," Carranza said.
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. InsideSchools, a website providing insight to the NYC education scene, is now offering a free online class for families called "How to Support Online Learning at Home." The course provides insight to families to help them navigate the online learning process, with everything including your goals, online learning in NYC schools, the challenges of online learning, getting the most out of your family's devices, creating a learning schedule, and activity ideas to complement your child's learning.
In addition, 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, the curriculum will be updated to reflect the blended learning model and to "include appropriate social-emotional learning and mental health supports."
Outdoor learning is an option being presented to some schools. de Blasio encourages all public, private, and charter schools in NYC to use outdoor space for learning, whether on their own property, with city help, or elsewhere. The plan follows pleas from educators, parents, advocates, and officials asking the mayor to allow schools to hold classes outside where the risk of infection is lower. de Blasio says it is up to the school's principals to determine how to use outdoor school property that's outdoors, but the DOE will work with principals to open up more space—like local parks and streets—if it's needed. Schools in the 27 neighborhoods hit hardest by the virus will receive first priority for outdoor space options.
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. According to de Blasio, 4 million face masks will be distributed to NYC schools along with 210,000 safety signs to enforce social distancing. 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. 3.5 million bottles of hand sanitizer and 80,000 canisters of disinfectant wipes will be distributed to NYC schools, along with 7,350 maintenance staff working to disinfect schools nightly. Schools will be disinfected with electrostatic disinfecting sprays. 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.
As part of each school's reopening plans, school ventilation action teams have inspected all NYC classrooms to ensure that their ventilation systems are safe for use during school. Rooms that don't pass inspection will either be brought to standard before the school year begins or will not be used. Teams are made up of independent experts and engineers, according to Carranza. Each action team has a checklist with room size and occupancy, whether windows can open, and examinations and supply of exhaust fans.
The Department of Education is establishing a new hotline for principals to call should they need to expedite the delivery of any of these materials. According to Chancellor Carranza, unannounced spot inspections of schools will be done to monitor the safety of each building.
School bus regulations will be set
Parents are still waiting for specific details from their districts regarding bussing, but these precautions will be taken across districts:
- 25 percent capacity
- Face masks required
- Students will be seated next to a window in every other row
- Only siblings will be permitted to sit together
- Buses will be disinfected every day
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:
Cuomo also announced that all New York schools—including K-12 and SUNY schools—will be required to provide the Department of Health with daily data on the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to create a COVID Report Card. A SUNY system-wide COVID-19 case tracker dashboard went live this past weekend and is designed to provide real-time information on coronavirus cases, testing, quarantine, and isolation space across SUNY's 64 colleges and universities.
Parents might be concerned about how their kids will handle going back to school, and de Blasio and Carranza have announced The Bridge to School Plan which aims to support students, educators, and parents throughout the city with guided language activities, community building exercises, and social emotional learning lessons and activities. This program will aim to help children build coping skills and expand teachers' access to trauma response. NYC principals began trauma response and educational practice training this summer and all school staff will be offered this training when the school year begins.
With the help of Child Mind Institute, an NYC DOE help line is being implemented for educators to call and access best practices to help students with mental health.
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.