On March 15, 2020, the nation’s largest school district underwent a historic transformation, closing school buildings in order to protect our 1.1 million students, and all staff, families, and fellow New Yorkers from COVID-19.
As we look ahead to September, we see the big picture: the continuing rise in cases across the country; current guidance from City, State, and Federal health authorities; and the knowledge that as the trajectory of the virus continues to evolve, the guidance we must follow will also evolve. When it does, we have to be ready, and prepared to adapt. We’ve also received over 400,000 responses from families and students to a survey asking about preferences and concerns for the upcoming year, and your input has been critical in our planning.
Taken together, this picture demands we begin the 2020-21 school year in an unprecedented way—including new health protocols, physical distancing, and more. Make no mistake: New York City students will still be learning 5 days a week. A major difference is that we are preparing to deliver their education through a blended learning model. Blended learning means students will be taught on-site in school for part of the week, and will attend school remotely on the other days of the week.
We are ready for this: adapting and strengthening our practices; investing in the technology required to provide a quality online academic experience—including distributing over 300,000 iPads to students who need them; and working with teachers to be more effective online instructors. We will update curriculum to reflect the blended learning online and in-person model, and to ensure the guidelines and curriculum include appropriate social-emotional learning and mental health supports.
Any family can also choose all-remote learning, for any reason. But we know that the majority of families want as much in-person instruction as is safely possible, and we will work to maximize it at every turn, consistent with health and safety requirements. We will continue to lead with the lens of equity and excellence, giving your child what they need to excel—and recognizing the ways that will be different from each of their classmates, especially in a time of crisis. We will not look away from the ways this virus has further magnified the effects of systemic racism in our communities. We will continue to explore opportunities to directly correct structural inequities—like closing the digital divide.
What we Know
- Parents need consistency to keep their kids focused, schedule childcare, keep life organized; confidence in the safety of their children in their learning environments, and agency in the decisions that will affect their livelihood and families.
- Students need routine in their learning—building habits and academic success through regular pattern and cadence of instruction; support for both academic and social and emotional health.
- Teachers need clear expectations for schedule and pace for working with students so they can maximize support in right modality.
- Principals need flexibility to choose what will work best for their student body and community; need to be able to choose among options.
Our plans must be nimble so we can adjust and update as needed, as the public health landscape continues to evolve. We are also awaiting guidance from the State of New York, and we will be closely coordinating with them once it is released. All of the most up-to-date information will be available on this web page. Please remember that this guidance may change as public health conditions evolve.
We also know that New Yorkers can rise to meet the challenge, and that everyone at DOE will be there every step of the way to support our students and families. Please read on for guidance and information about attending a New York City public school in the 2020-2021 school year.