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Staten Island H.S. switches to 'virtual learning' for most students, cites teacher shortage

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Posted at 2:59 PM, Sep 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-26 15:04:33-04

NEW YORK CITY — The principal of Staten Island’s largest high school says students will stick with "virtual learning," despite the Department of Education’s push to begin blended learning next month.

In a letter to parents and students on Saturday, Tottenville High School principal Gina Battista said the decision was “due to multiple variables out of our control,” including a lack of teachers.

"To execute the original plan of blended and remote learning, Tottenville High School would need an excess of additional teachers that is just not presently available," Battista wrote. "Therefore, in order to provide our students with a safe learning environment and a standard-based inclusive curriculum, we have no choice but to implement virtual learning classrooms with in-person supervision."

The letter was shared on Twitter by City Councilman Joe Borelli, who represents parts of Staten Island. Requests for comment from the DOE and Tottenville High School were not returned Saturday.

Most of the more than 3,800 students who attend the high school will receive live virtual and asynchronous instruction five days a week, providing continuity in teachers’ instruction plans, according to Battista's letter.

“So, it is with the utmost regret, I must inform all of you of the decision to begin the 2020-2021 school year with virtual instruction while having in-person supervision and supports as needed,” Battista wrote. "This goal was never our intention, as our goal was to return to the classroom with in-person instruction at the beginning of this school year."

Additional information regarding in-person supervision and supports for specific programs is expected to be released before Oct. 1, which is when blended learning for the students was supposed to begin.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the DOE have come under fire for their handling of the start of in-person classes this school year, which has been delayed twice amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, 3-K, pre-kindergarten and District 75 students have returned to classrooms under the blended learning model, which involves a weekly mix of in-person and remote learning.

Elementary school students in K-5 and K-8 schools are expected to return to classrooms on Tuesday, and middle and high school students are slated for Oct. 1.

However, the president of the United Federation of Teachers union said on Friday the city is at least 2,000 teachers short of what is needed to reopen on time.