Patch reports, Mayor DeBlasio has unveiled a new opt-in period for families who had initially chosen fully remote learning for the 2020-21 academic year. (Families were initially told there would be opt-in periods throughout the academic year. In late October 2020, the DOE abruptly announced a two-week window in November would be their last chance. So, this latest change is actually a reversal of a reversal.) This development comes on the heels of the Center for Disease Control‘s update that students may now safely distance three feet apart instead of six.
Beginning Wednesday, March 24th families may sign up for blended learning which affords students two days of in-person schooling. Parents must complete this survey by April 7th. DeBlasio said, “This obviously opens up a world of possibilities for bringing kids back.”
But the announcement provided few timelines and left room for many questions. 3K, elementary school and elementary-aged children in D75 Special Education programs may return by “the end of April.” Middle and High School options will be announced next week. High Schools only just re-opened for the first time since November on March 22nd. How the schools will accommodate an influx of students depends on the constraints of their facilities and available resources. Gothamist’s reporting does a good job of further exploring the considerations and challenges schools face.
While parents may be thrilled, according to ChalkBeat, the Principal’s Union is “miffed” the announcement was made before sharing information with school administrators. Union President Mark Mark Cannizzaro responded, “Once again, detailed plans should have been shared with principals prior to any citywide announcement, and it is essential that the DOE immediately issues further guidance as principals will now be responsible for answering their community’s pressing questions.” The UFT is also consulting their “trusted independent medical experts.”
WHAT WILL FALL 2021 LOOK LIKE?
Also pressing, what will Fall 2021 look like? Of the 1.1 million children in the system, over 70% of families chose fully remote learning this September. (Conversely, roughly 70% of PS8 families opted for hybrid learning. The school also lost just under 10% of its student body.) On the March 5th Brian Lehrer show, Mayor DeBlasio suggested there would only be two options for next year: fully remote or five days of in-person learning. “My hope is that we have advanced so far by September that there’s literally no one who wants to be remote anymore…I do not foresee blended being a part of the equation anymore.”
Meanwhile, the new School Chancellor, Meisha Porter has started her second week on the job. CLICK HERE for her weekly updates. She spoke at length with Gothamist on March 10th, saying, in part, “I would like to see us back 100%. I would like every student who wants to be in school five days a week to be able to have that option.”