New York City looks to ‘blended model’ of in-person and remote learning for upcoming school year

Photo via Flickr/NYC Mayor’s Office

With two months until the 2020-2021 school year begins, the city is formulating plans to get students back into the classroom part-time during the school year.

During his daily press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged that he has heard from a number of civic leaders, clergy, community members and businesses in regards to what is happening for the new school year. The city surveyed the parents of public school students, the majority of whom wish to have children back in classrooms for the new school year.

“Parents have spoken clearly – 75% of our parents said they want their kids back in the school building getting the best education, and we need to listen to the voices of our parents,” said de Blasio. “So many New Yorkers desperately need to get back to work – for a lot of people that means going back to a workplace – and they need to know that their kids will be safe and secure, getting a chance to be educated much more deeply.”

“Whatever we do, it has to be first and foremost seen through the prism of health and safety,” de Blasio added.

After planning with local educators and school principals, Mayor de Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza introduced two potential models for blended learning that would have fewer public school students in the classroom at one time. In the first model, which would account for a school being able to accommodate 50% of students, two groups of students would be in school two days a week, and the two groups would alternate coming to school one day a week. 

In the second model, which would account for a school being able to accommodate 33% of students, three groups of students would be in schools one day a week and would alternate two days a week.

Parents can opt for a full remote course of learning and will have the option to opt back into in-person learning quarterly. Remote learning can be opted-into at any time in the school year. Students in need of extra help, such as students with disabilities or an IEP, would be eligible for in-person learning five days a week. Multi-lingual learners will receive an education that ensures that they will have continued progress in language development and area knowledge.

Schools will be given time to adapt to the new changes, according to Carranza, and there will be a new emphasis on social-emotional learning and trauma-informed care.

“This is very new and different, and I know that it’s no one’s first choice,” said Carranza. “But we need to do it to maintain the health and safety of our school communities.”

Last week, the city announced new health and safety measures that will be implemented in the new school year. Schools will be deep-cleaned nightly with cleaning also happening throughout the day. Students and staff will be required to wear face coverings, which will be provided by the DOE to those who need them and will not come from an individual school’s budget.

At this time, the city is trying to address what will happen to extracurricular activities. For more information, visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020.

“It definitely won’t be business as usual,” said de Blasio.

“Re-opening our schools will be a complex and difficult process, but we are not going to be careless with our students, their families, and our educators,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew in a statement.