DOE says coronavirus related absences will not impact middle school and high school application process

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Mayor Bill de Blasio said coronavirus is an “evolving situation they are monitoring “hour by hour.” (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The Department of Education tweeted a confusing announcement early Tuesday morning that any coronavirus-related absences will not impact city and middle school and high school applications. 

Panicked parents quickly tweeted back at the agency asking for clarification as to how it was will implement the policy since attendance plays a large part in middle school and high school placement in the city. 

“So only kids who are diagnosed with Coronavirus? Only kids who stay home because they might have Coronavirus? Only kids who traveled and are self-quarantining? How in the world will you differentiate? And you mean next year’s, right? Because this year’s applications are in. WHAT?” wrote Alina Adams, mother of a public school student. Students applied to middle and high schools in December and are currently waiting for responses about school placement from the DOE. 

The most recent clarification came at 4:54 p.m. today when the DOE tweeted it is currently working on guidance for schools on how the policy could impact attendance records for current 4th and 7th graders.  

City Councilmembers Keith Powers and Mark Treyger responded to the DOE’s announcement by asking the agency to re-examine their student attendance policy 

“The NYC Department of Education student attendance policy should not only be discussed during the coronavirus outbreak,” said Councilmember Treyger in a statement.”Many students, particularly homeless students, are absent at no fault of their own long before this virus went viral which negatively impacts and limits their academic opportunities.”

Last week, the Upper Manhattan councilmember called on Schools Chancellor Carranza to consider changing the DOE’s policy. 


The DOE’s  twitter announcement came shortly before Mayor Bill de Blasio updated members of the media on the state of coronavirus in the city where he told reporters that they would receive updates soon on new school cleaning policies, updated travel advisory and absences. Nobody from the DOE was present during the briefing to answer school and student-related questions about the virus. 

“We are trying to do the most important things first we are going to get to those things quickly,” said de Blasio. “Right now it’s about taking care of things related to basic health and getting all of that out of the way, we will have answers for you in the course of the day.” 

On Monday, the mayor and Governor Andrew Cuomo held a joint press conference to address the first confirmed case of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the state a 39-year-old health care worker who recently came back from Iran with her husand. Iran has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Middle East. The woman was quarantined to her home and now her husband is currently being tested for the virus.

Earlier today, the SAR Academy and High School in the Bronx closed their campuses after it was discovered that a student’s father was the second person diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state. The New York Times reported that the man was being tested in the hospital for several days before his COVID-19 diagnoses and that city health officials are worried about his second child, a student at Yeshiva University. Yeshiva University released a statement this afternoon stating that the student had not been on campus since Thursday, Feb. 27, and was currently being quarantined at home.

During today’s’ press conference, Mayor de Blasio said that city health officials are working at SAR Academy and High School and the university his son attends “identifying any cases, any specific situations where there was prolonged contact between the individual in question and other people.” 

The mayor added that either late today or tomorrow the city will have a map of each individual that came in contact with members of the family for prolonged periods of time at the schools.