NEW YORK — New York City plans to implement a blended learning approach, with a mix of in-person and remote learning, if the state allows school buildings to reopen in the fall.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza on Wednesday unveiled their plan for what reopening New York City public schools will look like come September.
"The 2020 school year will be like no other that we’ve experienced,” Carranza said.
With a blended approach, learning will continue to take place five days a week, but de Blasio said the "vast majority" of students will be in the classroom two or three days a week and will continue their education remotely the other days of the week.
Most schools will choose from three reopening models — some students may be remote throughout the year.
- Model 1: Consists of two cohorts (or two groups) where schools have capacity for at least 50% of students to be at building at one time..
- One group goes to school Tuesdays and Thursdays while the other comes in Wednesdays and Fridays. They will rotate going to schools on Mondays.
- Model 2: (Three cohorts) Groups will come into school a specific day a week (ex: Group A comes in Wednesday, Group B comes in every Thursday, Group C comes in every Friday) Groups will also rotate coming in Mondays and Tuesdays.
The city conducted a survey, to which around 400,000 families responded, according to the mayor. About 75% of parents and families said they want to send their children back to schools.
Still, people who spoke with PIX11 News in person expressed mixed feelings.
Bella Rogers's son is in the third grade. "I'm not too sure I want to send him back to school," she said. "[We] may just do remote learning, all the way."
Another mother, Lisa Torres, said that, based on her experience using a daycare open during the pandemic for essential workers like her, she felt comfortable with reopening conditions.
"I'm going to send her back," Torres said, "because I think kids need that physical learning."
When it comes to safety, de Blasio said, "Everything we do will have a very high bar." He did acknowledge, however, that social distancing will be harder for schools with overcrowding issues.
With 1.1 million students, New York City is the largest public school in the nation.
“We want each kid to get as much time in the classroom,” de Blasio said.
Other safety protocols include mandatory face coverings for students and staff, nightly deep cleanings of school buildings, and more staff training.
Face coverings will be provided to anyone who needs one, de Blasio said.
Schools will update entry, exit and hallway layouts to limit close contact.
There will also be fewer students in each class and larger spaces such as cafeterias, gyms, auditoriums will be used as classrooms. The mayor also said leasing spaces nearby schools is also an option that is being looked into.
To keep families informed about school plans, the city set up a "Return to School 2020" portal, which will be updated on a normal basis.
There’s also another model where there are groups of students, such as students with disabilities, who may go to school five days a week. However, it depends on the situation.
There will be citywide family and student information sessions, with the first one scheduled on July 16.
Principals will also hold parent meetings in July to discuss individual school plans.
On July 15, the parent portal will open for families to sign up for fully remote instruction.
The deadline for families to opt for fully remote instruction and staff to submit medical accommodation will be on Aug. 7.
Families will also be allowed to opt back into in-person instruction on a quarterly basis, while families can opt for fully remote learning at any time.
Despite outlining the city's plans, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the final call is up to the state on whether or not schools can reopen in September.
Cuomo said earlier this week that no decision has been made yet.
De Blasio previously said he is committed to reopening schools in September.
Earlier this year, as the state prepared its phased approach to restarting the economy amid the COVID-19 pandeic, New York City and 700 other school districts were directed to design individualized plans on what schools will look like if they are given the green light to reopen for the next academic year.
De Blasio said the goal is to “have the maximum number of kids in our schools as we begin schools."
President Donald Trump has threatened to withhold federal money if schools don’t reopen in the fall.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said no matter how you cut it – New York City is behind the 8-ball when it comes to planning for September.
"New York City, first and foremost, is all about safety," Mulgrew said. "President Trump might be upset about that because clearly he's not all about safety. There's still so much more to do. I mean, let me be clear, we should have been doing this months ago. We're really behind in terms of getting all these things worked out."
Whatever the final schedule looks look, mom of three Frances Fischer isn’t looking forward to the dent it’s going to put in her pocketbook.
"It's gonna come out of pocket for child care," Fischer said."It's not free."
Schools closed in the middle of March as health care workers battled to squash the coronavirus outbreak.