New Jersey officials released a 104-page report Friday outlining how students and educators can prepare for the fall semester with minimum requirements for in-person learning. Similarly, Connecticut officials announced Thursday they plan to have full-time in-person schooling for the next school year. But no such plans have been released for New York City’s 1.1 million public school students, who had their last day of school Friday.
The next school year is scheduled to start September 10th — 76 days away.
“The answer (to) when do we have an exact plan, it's when we feel we have enough information to lock one down,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in his press briefing Friday.
The lack of guidance is frustrating and makes planning for the future impossible, parents and critics said.
Earlier this month, the city’s Department of Education sent out a survey to parents asking their opinions on a range of schedule options — none of which included full-time in-person schooling.
De Blasio said the remote-learning component will be offered for the fall semester, even if conditions improve dramatically for in-person learning in schools:
“We're going to also keep a distance learning capacity because some parents won't be ready yet,” he said at his Friday briefing. “And if the disease situation gets better, more and more kids in schools — God forbid it gets worse, more and more kids in distance learning. But we are right now retrofitting the schools, so they will be ready to handle the maximum number of kids in person September 10th.”
The DOE also sent a survey to teachers and educators Thursday, asking for their opinions.
“We are working on plans for re-opening based on guidance from public health experts,” the DOE teacher survey said. “Since we cannot yet predict what the transition will look like, we need to be prepared for a range of possibilities. We know we can’t do this without your input. We’ve created a short, anonymous survey to help us understand what is most important to you when we return to school and office buildings.”
The MORE-UFT caucus of the teacher’s union pointed out the survey was the first request for feedback from the DOE in the nearly four months since schools switched to remote learning:
Still, de Blasio vowed that the “maximum number” of the city’s schoolkids would return to in-person school this fall.
“We have a plan A. That's what every school has been instructed to figure out what's the maximum number of kids you can get in this school safely,” he said. “All the protocols, and that constant testing, cleanliness regime, you know — the handwashing stations, all of that is being laid in to be ready for the maximum number of kids.”
“We want as many kids in their classrooms as possible on September 10th,” de Blasio added. “We still have quite a way to go, well over two months until then. And everything's going to be about health and safety as the first consideration.”