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NYC schools chancellor talks remote learning, securing devices, prioritizing vulnerable students

Posted at 11:00 AM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 11:06:49-04

NEW YORK — Before over a million New York City public school students begin remote learning Monday amid the coronavirus crisis, NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza told the PIX11 Morning News how the country's largest public school system is preparing – and how ready students and teachers really are.

"We are excited about launching into this new way of learning," Carranza said Friday. "We are ready. We've had three days of professional development. We have a whole suite of a curriculum and materials and support," the chancellor continued.

While Carranza and the Department of Education are going into the new educational phase with at positive mindset, he said they estimate there are about 300,00 city students that may not have the needed devices, like laptops or tablets, or high-seed internet connectivity.

Carranza said there is currently a survey happening to get that information from the principals of city schools, but later admitted that there is no clear estimate of when

"The good news is that schools have laptop cards, they have laptops and they have iPads. They're actually assigning their own inventory to the students who have the greatest need," the chancellor said.

"We also are on track to buy 300,000 devices. The first 25,000 of those devices will be here on Monday morning," Carranza assured. "We are prioritizing students that are in poverty, students that are homeless," he said.

When asked for details on how long it might take for students to get those devices, Carranza admitted they just don't know at this time.

However, addressing those 275,000 students waiting for incoming devices, Carranza assured there will also be paper lessons to be distributed at school sites for those in need.

"Parents will be able to have pencil and paper type activities as well. There are a number of community-based organizations that are opening their doors to students and families as well," he said.

The chancellor also noted that the Department of Education will be opening regional enrichment centers Monday that will have laptops and devices students can use.

When it comes to high-school students, Carranza said they are paying particular attention to seniors to ensure they have everything they need to earn their diploma as scheduled.

As far as attendance and students being able to directly connect with teachers, Carranza said the keyword is "flexibility."

"There's going to be a lot of flexibility. Teachers and students are going to be working that out over the course of the next week. Students are going to come and go as their family circumstances dictate," Carranza said.

The most important thing Carranza thinks parents should do now is stay in touch with their child's school, principal and teachers, either directly or through the Department of Education website, or even calling 3-1-1.

"The school will have the most up-to-date information," he said.

"I'm going to have faith in our community," Carranza asserted.

"This is a crisis and I want to make sure that our community knows that we're providing everything we can to make sure kids are fed, that kids have high-quality curriculum, and that our educators have the support that they need."