BROOKLYN – Borough President Eric Adams, who has an eye on Mayor’s seat himself, is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to offer more flexibility for parents to opt into blended learning.
In a letter Adams sent to de Blasio last week, he wrote that the November 2nd to November 15th window to opt into blended learning—a mix of remote and in-person classes— is an unnecessary constraint.
“The City ensured parents who enrolled their children in all-remote instruction that they would have multiple chances to switch to blended learning. But on Monday, you announced that parents will have only one chance to opt into blended learning from November 2nd to November 15th, or their children would have to remain at home through June. The November 15th deadline is an unnecessary constraint among parents and education professionals.”
The Mayor announced his decision last week at his press conference, saying the school system’s total attendance rate is 82.9%, with just 280,000 students – one-quarter of the total – having attended at least one in-person class this school year. Those are much lower numbers than the administration had expected.
“There is no replacement for in-person learning, and it’s safe to do so,” Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said last week. It seems families are not quite convinced and are keeping the kids home, for now.
Council Member Mark Treger, who is also the Chair of the Committee on Education, also believed the “City Hall should stick to the commitment it made to parents and to NYS regarding quarterly opportunities for families to opt for blended learning. Do not further erode trust in the middle of a crisis. Give families support and flexibility rather than broken promises & arbitrary deadlines.”
Over 3,000 parents have signed a petition urging de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza to “Reverse your decision to force parents to choose next week between in-person and remote school for the rest of the year. Your decision is counter to all the communications families have received for months and is only going to create more chaos and confusion among families across the city. Guarantee opt-in periods later in the year, as planned and promised.”
“Families have been told there would be multiple periods to switch from remote-only to hybrid. This has helped families make balanced decisions — about what they are comfortable with for their family’s health, what works for their child’s particular learning style, and how their plan relates to the reality of covid infections,” the petition states. “Forcing families to choose now runs against the promises made and against plans families have made. It means placing bets for the rest of the year based on fast-changing information — with our kids’ education at stake. And it means asking all of us to put faith in a system that is showing no reason for us to believe it can maintain its commitments. What is being offered in terms of instruction, safety, care for our kids’ development is so uneven school to school — and, as the chancellor has shown, may keep changing.”
“It is unfair to families who have been patient and flexible with the ever-changing landscape of education during this pandemic to have to decide now to send their children to school until June when so many unknowns remain,” he wrote. “Parents are rightly hesitant to make such a decision when they are met with misinformation and last-minute implementation of the plans from your office and the New York City Department of Education (DOE), as well as in the face of a steady rise of coronavirus cases.”
“The ability to opt into blended learning on a quarterly basis provides needed flexibility due to parents’ work schedules, home care, and the evolving state of the pandemic,” he continued. “The quarterly opt-in option is still the best solution for students and families as we continue to fight this pandemic.”