Just A Quarter of City’s Schoolchildren Have Attended School In Person This Year. This Is The Plan To Change That.

Just A Quarter of City’s Schoolchildren Have Attended School In Person This Year. This Is The Plan To Change That.
Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability with Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. City Hall. Monday, October 26, 2020. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

“So far, we’ve had 280,000 kids who have attended school in-person,” Mayor Bill De Blasio said this morning.

There are about 1.1 million kids in the NYC public school system, meaning just about 25% of children have attended school in person at some point this school year. And remember – in-person means just a day or two a week.

“Attendance, so far, the percentage attending each day, has averaged around 85%,” Mayor finally informed, as the Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza acknowledged that “we know we’re not yet where we want to be with attendance.” Attendance was 91.6% pre-COVID.

“We’re keeping a close eye on this and will continue to drive support to schools as they need it. We’ll also be closely watching the opt-in period for schools, starting next week,” Carranza said. “We’re lower than we anticipated in being in terms of in-person learners and know that families initially had hesitations. We’ve always known this, but now we can prove it. There is no replacement for in-person learning and it’s safe to do so. We invite all families who want to return to in-person learning to do so during this opt-in period.”

The ‘opt-in period’ when those parents who chose fully remote instruction for their children can decide to send them back to school will begin next week on November 2nd and will go through November 15th.

It will be the only opt-in period this year, according to Chancellor. “This will be the only time to opt-in. Let me repeat that – this will be the only time to opt-in, which is a change from what we originally had said over the summer. We think that this is better for the sake of stability for all students, for families, and educators. So, we urge any family who is considering it to take advantage of this opportunity to do so now.”

Southern Brooklyn Senator Andrew Gounardes is demanding at least one more option to return at a later date.

“What little faith may have remained in the DOE has been further eroded with the latest, just-announced change to the hybrid learning opt-in periods. Time and again families have been asked to remake their lives around the ever-shifting protocols issued by the DOE at the expense of their children’s education and well-being, their work schedules and let’s be honest at this point, their sanity,” Gounardes emailed. “To abruptly slash four opt-in periods over the course of the year to just one adds insult to injury for struggling families. I am calling on the DOE to immediately instate at least one additional opt-in period so families have the chance to reevaluate the facts and circumstances on the ground later in the year as they had initially promised.”

Councilmember Justin Brannan plans to fight it as well. He tweeted “This is a MAJOR change from what was originally proposed. We all want to maximize stability for students, teachers, principals, and families but for those of us caught in these red, yellow, and orange zones, this policy change is unfair and we WILL be fighting it.”

Concerned about COVID testing at schools?

“The COVID testing data will be available at the DOE website at schools.nyc.gov/covidresults,” Mayor promised this morning. “And it will have test results for every borough, for every school that’s been tested and a complete case map for all known cases in New York City public schools. And that would be available at schools.nyc.gov/casemap.”