Roughly 25,000 students opt into blended learning two days after enrollment period opens, de Blasio says

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Roughly 25,000 New York City public school families have opted their children into blended learning two days after the enrollment window opened this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday. 

City officials opened the new opt-in window after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its recommended guidelines for social distancing in schools. All New York City public school parents are allowed to opt their children into blended, but de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said earlier this week the city would prioritize bring 3-k, pre-K, District 75, and elementary school students back first sometime next month. 

On Friday, noting that the high opt-in number could potentially be temporary, de Blasio said during an interview on WNYC Friday that the number could trail off. “I can’t tell you what the trend line will be but I can tell you that 25,000 kids in two days means something,” he said. 

During her first Panel for Educational Policy meeting on Wednesday, Chancellor Porter told panelists that the families of 8,000 students had opted their child into blended learning on the first day that the window opened. Parents have until April 7 to enroll their child in the hybrid model which allows for students to take their classes online and remotely and in school buildings during the week. 

The news comes during the first week that some high schoolers enrolled in blended returned to one of 488 reopened school buildings.  High schools are the last of all school buildings to reopen after Mayor de Blasio ordered a second system-wide shutdown of public schools last November. The order came after the number of new COVID-19 cases across a seven-day rolling average reached 3%, a threshold Mayor de Blasio set in the city’s school reopening plan submitted and approved by the state of approval last summer. 

Although the city outlined a closure policy for public schools in the plan, officials release a plan over the summer on how to reopen schools if a second system-wide shutdown ever occurred. When schools closed in November, officials decided to first open the facilities serving the city’s youngest learnings and District 75 students followed by elementary schools students and slightly ramped up random testing efforts in schools requiring that 20% of children and adults be tested weekly. But the future of the city’s older public school students was left up in the air until officials reopened middle schools last month. 

Officials tout the reopenings as a major pandemic milestone, 70% of the city’s 1.1 million public school students are still learning remotely and a significant amount of high schoolers are not receiving in-person instruction at all. Instead, on their in-person days blended students go to school buildings to sit a desk with a laptop in order to continue taking classes online. AmNewYork spoke to one Brooklyn high school parent that described her daughter’s first day back to school as “grim” and said that her child sat for her Zoom class in a room monitored by a school aid while some students without laptops slept at their desk.