De Blasio: NYC Schools To Reopen In Fall With Blend Of In-Person, Remote Learning

Adam Warner
July 08, 2020 - 4:02 pm

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that New York City school students will likely be in classrooms only a few days a week—at most—this fall, with the rest of their learning taking place remotely.

    De Blasio said there will be “blended learning” for the city’s 1.1 million students when schools return in September.

    “Blended learning simply means at some points in the week you’re learning in person, in the classroom, at other points in the week you’re learning remotely,” de Blasio said.

    The mayor said students would be learning five days a week but that it would be a mix of in-person and remote learning, with most students in school only two or three days each week.

    “This blended model, this kind of split schedule model, is what we can do under current conditions,” de Blasio said. “Then let’s hope and pray science helps us out with a vaccine, with a cure, treatment—the things that will allow us to go farther."

    Shortly after de Blasio's briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his own briefing that a final decision about schools would be up to the state. He also reacted to President Donald Trump, who threatened to cut federal funding to districts that don't reopen schools in-person in the fall.

    "Schools reopening is a state decision—period," the governor said. "That is the law and that is the way we’re going to proceed. It’s not up to the president of the United States."

    Cuomo said a final decision about schools in New York state would come "the first week of August."

    "They can submit a plan. The plan will be reviewed, and then we’ll accept or deny the specific plan or ask for alterations on the specific plan, and then make a global decision as to whether or not any school district will reopen," the governor said.

    De Blasio had said at his briefing that the city would work with the state on its plans going into the new school year.

    Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said many students will take part in the “blended learning,” but others can work remotely five days a week if they choose to.

    The chancellor said students will rotate the days that they come to school so that buildings don't become overcrowded. There are multiple models being given to schools that they can work with depending on their capacity and unique needs.

    "Most schools will choose from among three of these models, and we'll make an additional two models available for schools in District 75," Carranza said.

    The chancellor walked through two models at Wednesday's briefing. A two-cohort model assumes a school has a capacity for at least 50 percent of its students to be in the building at any given time. A three-cohort model, assumes a school has a capacity for at least 33 percent of its students to be in the building at any given time.

    The two-cohort model (first graphic below) includes two groups of students that will be in two- or three-day rotations each week. For example, one cohort comes to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a second cohort comes to school on Wednesdays and Fridays, with the two groups rotating on Mondays.

    The three-cohort model (second graphic below) includes three groups of students that will be in-person for the same day one day a week, with Mondays and Tuesdays rotating among the groups over a three-week cycle. This means most cohorts will be in-person two days a week, but there will be one week during each three-week cycle in which each group will only be in school one day.

    NYC School Schedules

    "I know this sounds like a lot to take in, and it is," Carranza said. "Let me tell you, it's been the same for all of us as we've grappled with these tough choices."

    Principals will provide “clear, specific schedules” for each student in August, so parents can plan ahead, Carranza said.

    The chancellor said face coverings will be required for students and staff. Schools will also increase access to hand-washing and sanitizers, and social distancing will be mandated.

    School buildings will be deep-cleaned on a nightly basis with electrostatic disinfectant sprayers and HVAC systems are being upgraded to ensure better ventilation.

    There will be fewer students in each classroom; large spaces like cafeterias and auditoriums will be used as classrooms; entries, exits and hallways will be updated to reduce contact; and officials are working to identify non-DOE spaces for learning.

    “We know that we cannot maintain proper physical distancing and have 100 percent of our students in school buildings five days a week,” Carranza said. “Health and safety requires us to have fewer students in the building at the same time. So for the 2020-2021 school year, it will look different.”

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo said recently that the final decision about schools lies with the state.

    At his briefing, de Blasio said the city would work with the state on any planning in the weeks ahead.

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