The families of 34,794 New York City public school students signed their children up for blended learning during the Department of Education’s two-week opt in-period, officials announced on Friday.
Roughly 32,000 of those students were previously enrolled in remote classes only while 3,000 students who had not filled out the department’s learning preference survey previously indicated that they wanted to attend in-person classes.
Officials also reported about 6,000 students previously taking part in blended learning switched to completely remote classes during the city’s recently announced opt-in period which began Nov. 2 and ended Sunday, Nov. 15.
Before the school year started in September, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza told public school parents choosing to enroll their children in full remote learning they would have multiple times to switch into blended learning throughout the fall. But in a sudden switch, officials scrapped the quarterly opt-in option and replaced it with a two-week window after publicly releasing lower than expected in-person class enrollment and attendance.
Only 300,000 out of the city’s 1.1 million public school students were enrolled in blended learning prior to the closure of the November opt-in period, a considerable drop from the nearly 700,000 students Mayor Bill de Blasio anticipated would participate in in-person classes earlier this fall.
Brooklyn saw the largest spike in opt-in numbers with 27% of the newly enrolled blended learning students living in the borough, according to DOE data. Out of the remaining students, 26% live in Queens, 23% in the Bronx, 17% in Manhattan and 7% in Staten Island.
New sign-ups were also overwhelmingly made by Latino students. According to a DOE demographic breakdown, students identifying as Hispanic/Latino accounted for 48% of new blended learning students. Black students made up 22% of new opt-ins while whites and Asian students made up 16% and 11% respectively.
These numbers will most likely change in the future. Prior to this week’s temporary systemwide public school shutdown, DOE officials said students enrolled in blended learning will be moved into fully remote if they do not show up to in-person classes after Nov. 30. Before the switch, school administrators are expected to speak with families of blended learning students who fail to show up to class.
“We know that nothing can replace in-person instruction and blended learning families deserve as much time in the classroom inside their schools as possible,” said DOE spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon. “We will be working with schools to increase the number of days blended learning students are in buildings and we’re excited for these students to join their peers when we reopen.”
As COVID numbers steadily climb across the state, the city’s daily COVID-19 positivity rate based on a rolling seven-day average finally reached 3% on Wednesday launching the shutdown of all public schools. All public school students will temporarily take all of their courses remotely as city officials create a second school reopening plan.
Once schools reopen for in-person classes, officials hope to bump up the number of days blended learning students can spend in physical classrooms to a maximum of five days per week. Before public schools were closed for a second time due to COVID, blended learning students had the option of sitting for class in school between one to three days a week.