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Over 700,000 NYC students to return to in-person classes, blended learning this fall

Posted at 10:28 AM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 17:50:09-04

NEW YORK CITY — More than 700,000 New York City students, about 74% of the district population, will return to in-person classes this September as part of the city's blended learning curriculum, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

The other 26% of students will begin the academic year on a full remote learning curriculum.

Parents had until last Friday to enroll their children in the full remote learning plan.

"The first day of school is a magical day. There’s an incredible sense of renewal, energy and possibility,” de Blasio said Monday during a coronavirus briefing. “This year is going to be different. We all know it … we are up against a challenge but it’s not a challenge that’s going to go on forever."

The city's blended learning approach to the coming school year involves a mix of in-person classes and remote learning five days a week for all grades.

About 66,000 teachers, 85% of the district's educators, are expected to plan for a blended learning curriculum, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said. About 15% of teachers requested a reasonable accommodation to work from home.

"Those who are granted that accommodation will exclusively teach remotely but they still will be engaged and dedicated as ever to educating the children of New York City, because that's who they are," Carranza said.

Announcements on specific school schedules will be going out to most parents beginning next Monday, de Blasio said. The rest will go out the following week.

Carranza said principals have been "burning the midnight oil" to get schedules together now that they know how many in-person students to plan for, and reminded parents that the Department of Education only received the results of the remote learning elections for both students and teachers on Friday.

"For us, health and safety leads the way always, first and foremost. Our vision for the fall is a safe, strong and supportive learning environment and an excellent education for every one of our students," Carranza said. "Schools will be in session five days per week. Students will be learning five days per week no matter where they are."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that all school districts are allowed to reopen school buildings, if they choose to do so, as key coronavirus health indicators continue to remain below the state's threshold.

The city Department of Education has outlined its health and safety protocols for in-person learning as well as a testing and tracing program.

When asked about concerns over a lack of nurses in school buildings, de Blasio said the DOE is working on finding a solution in the coming days.

The DOE is also working with the Archdiocese of New York on a plan to possibly use some previously closed schools, which would offer students smaller class sizes and more space for social distancing.

Crews are also working to fix ventilation and other safety issues in some school buildings, but de Blasio added that any classroom that is "not fit" won’t be used.

Additional safety measures include mandatory face coverings for students, teachers, and staff; regular disinfecting and deep cleaning of school buildings; and updated entry, exit and hallway layouts to limit close contact.

The DOE will purchase supplies like face coverings for students, teachers, and staff; disinfectant; hand sanitizer; and electrostatic sprayers.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the percent of teachers who requested to work from home.