No say yet on whether City will offer remote learning this fall

Students across the borough — and their parents and teachers — are adjusting to remote learning. (Photo via Pexels)

Mayor Bill de Blasio still won’t say whether public school students will be allowed to take classes online this fall after previously hinting students would be given the option to do so.  

During an interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” in March, de Blasio revealed plans to scrap hybrid learning this upcoming school year and instead offer students the option to either return to school buildings for in-person classes five days a week or to take their courses fully remotely. 

“ I think there are only two realistic pieces here, a full five-day-a-week calendar and then a purely remote option for families that just won’t be ready at that point,” de Blasio said. “ But I  do not foresee blended being a part of the equation anymore.”

Earlier this week, the Department of Education has released a few details on what the 2021-22 school year will look like including the school year’s official start date,  Sept. 13, that Columbus Day will be replaced with Italian-American heritage/Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Juneteenth is officially a school holiday and students will take their classes remotely on snow days and other inclement weather days.  

On Thursday, Chalkbeat reported Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter hinted the City might not offer families a fully remote option for their children during a meeting with her parent advisory council. The chancellor said a remote learning option would be dependent on where the city was in September in terms of COVID-19 infection rates. 

COVID infections across the five boroughs have been steadily decreasing with the city’s overall positivity rate reaching 2.41% on Friday, the lowest it has been in the last six months, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

“We are planning for every single child to be back in school. That is the plan,” de Blasio told Lehrer on Friday. “We’ll monitor and we’ll talk to parents and we’ve got a lot of time to make adjustments as we go along but the plan is to have every child back in school… I think parents should want their kids back in school because we are in an entirely different situation now.”

Families could still be hesitant to send their children back into classrooms this fall. Since the City started to slowly reopen schools after the second system-wide shutdown last fall, and new COVID cases are diminishing, the majority of families have kept their children home. Only 40% of public school families have chosen to enroll their children in blended learning, according to DOE data gathered after the most recent opt-in window closed last month. 

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