More than 40,000 NYC students enrolled in blended learning: de Blasio

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High school students line up to get into class in Hell’s Kitchen on March 22, 2021 — which marked the reopening of public high schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo by Dean Moses

The families of at least 40,000 fully remote New York City public school students enrolled their children in blended learning during the hybrid model’s most recent opt-in window, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday. 

Last month, Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter announce families of students taking their classes fully remotely would be given another opportunity to register for blended learning after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated social distancing guidelines for schools. 

Under the new guidelines, the CDC shortened the distance teachers and students need to maintain from one another inside of school buildings from its previously recommended six feet to three feet. The new change meant schools could potentially have more space to accommodate more in-person students while abiding by COVID-19 health and safety protocols. 

De Blasio broke the news about the enrollment number during his weekly interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” telling Lehrer “right now we are well over 40,000.” A final enrollment number for the opt-in window that began on Wednesday, March 24 and ended this Friday will not be fully calculated and released until Monday, April 12, de Blasio added. 

A day before the enrollment deadline, the mayor and chancellor issued a long-awaited update on the Department of Education’s contested “two case” rule for COVID-19 related public school closures. Officials scrapped the policy and replaced it with new guidelines requiring classrooms to close after a single COVID-19 cases is detected and for schools to close when three or four COVID-19 cases are found within seven days and traced to a source in the building. 

Under the “two-case” rule, all students in a school building were forced to take classes remotely for at least 1o days if two unliked COVID cases were discovered. Closures under the new “four-case” policy will also be for 10 days and if COVID cases keep occurring officials will ramp up testing. 

Many public school parents have urged the city to drop the rule arguing it unnecessarily kept students enrolled in blended learning from being able to attend in-person classes with any regularity and a number of medical experts have contested the science behind the policy. 

De Blasio claims the new rule will help public schools families have more consistency in in-person learning schedules. This greater stability could possibly make families with children taking classes remotely feel more confident in sending their kids back into school buildings. 

Once the enrollment period closes, officials will work to first bring back the city’s youngest learnings in 3-k and pre-K as well as those with the most severe disabilities in District 75. Once those students are brought back into classrooms, the city hopes to bring back elementary school students followed by middle and high school children.