One of the more dire consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic directly impacts millions of school children — possibly forcing them to stay home for the rest of the academic year.
While some officials fought to keep schools open, others demanded they shut down quickly to prevent the spread of infection. All public, private and parochial schools for all ages are closed in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. More than 38 other U.S. states have taken similarly drastic measures.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced on Friday that students impacted by school closures can bypass standardized testing for the school year.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
Here's how each state is handling the virus when it comes to school closures:
New York City Public Schools
- Date of initial closure: March 16
- Plans to reopen: Initial plan to reopen on April 20, but closures may last the remainder of the school year
- More resources from NYC Public Schools
Mayor Bill de Blasio was steadfast in his opposition to closing the city's public schools for the early stages of the outbreak, but eventually caved and on March 15 agreed to close schools for the near future. The mayor said at multiple press conferences that he won't attempt to reopen schools until April 20 -- and that, ultimately, they may not be able to reopen in time to salvage the calendar year.
“By closing our schools now we may not have the opportunity to reopen them for the whole school year," de Blasio warned.
Schools started remote learning for grades K-12 on Monday, March 23. Some schools will remain open to provide students (and all New Yorkers) with three free meals per day. Some facilities will also stay open to serve as resource and childcare centers for essential workers.
There had been some debate about whether or not NYC public schools would be honoring spring break or not, given the circumstances. On April 3, after Gov. Cuomo had canceled school vacations statewide two days prior, de Blasio ruled at April 9 and 10 would also be school days. Those days are when religious holidays such as Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Passover fall.
It is estimated that for the more than one million students in NYC, approximately 300,000 need electronic devices to assist with remote learning. Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said the city has found a partner in Apple and T-Mobile to help "get devices into the hands of students that need them."
A Department of Education spokesperson said the first batch of 25,000 iPads would be delivered next week.
If you or your child need a device for remote learning, you can call 718-935-5100 and choose option 5 to request one from NYC Public Schools. You can also click here to fill out a request form online.
Other schools, such as Hunter College, purchased laptops via donors and were giving them to students who needed them to complete their remote coursework.
DOE also released the following guidance, but noted it may look and feel different at individual schools since it is largely up to each principal to navigate the transition:
Starting Wednesday, March 18: teachers will be in their home schools practicing social distancing and participating in self-paced webinars and remote learning planning. The support will be differentiated based on the readiness and connectivity of the school and teacher.
Curriculum will continue as seamlessly as possible, and these next few days will be used to take existing lesson planning online. Many teachers already practice remote learning on a variety of different platforms - they are being encouraged to leverage their expertise and use Tuesday through Thursday to plan.
Less experienced teachers will spend the time gathering the contact information of their students and families, getting set up with Google Classrooms, learning how to create and post assignments, and then posting those assignments to be ready by Monday 3/23.
Teachers with more experience using online learning platforms will receive training and support on how to utilize additional platforms Google Slides, Google Forms, and online grading tools and begin transitioning their curriculum online.
The department said that while continuing to interact with the students at the designated times, teachers will be archiving lessons, communicating expectations and monitoring participation. For any student not engaging in the lessons, teachers can reach out to the student support team.
School guidance counselors, school psychologists and other related service providers (physical therapists, occupational therapy, speech and counseling, etc.) will also follow guidelines that will make them available to students who need them and to provide support to students, families and teachers remotely.
The DOE also released guidance on what is expected of students, while expressing to instructors to recognize the stresses the current situation entails. During the time of remote learning, students are expected to complete activities in a timely manner, participate in check-ins and review any feedback. Families are encouraged to help establish routines and habits that are conducive to the students' learning, and should contact the teacher with any concerns about progress or if additional instruction is needed.
All families are encouraged to sign up for a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA) in order for DOE and individual schools to quickly and effectively communicate during remote learning.
The mayor also said that children of essential employees — which was broadened to include children of employees at the Department of Environmental Protection, Health Department, essential staff of NYC Ferries and Staten Island Ferry, and grocery and pharmacy workers — are eligible to go to enrichment centers throughout the city. Officials said that there was capacity for 40,000 children to attend those centers, though some were set to close due to low enrollment and attendance rates.
- Statewide closure effective March 18, though many schools shut earlier
- Plans to reopen: Schools will be closed through April 15; extended closures may be required
- The New York state Department of Education says districts must continue to provide remote instruction for students, meals for students, and child care for essential workers every weekday between April 1, 2020 and April 14, 2020, even if the district is scheduled to be on spring break during that time
- More resources from New York state Department of Education
Gov. Cuomo said all other schools around the state, as well as day care centers, are closed dating back to March 18. Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau had already announced plans to close their public and private schools, which began March 16.
On April 7, New York education officials say they canceled high school Regents exams normally required for graduation, but said students will still earn a Regents diploma as long as they pass their courses.
The Education Department’s decision was praised by teachers and school board members who said it would be wrong to penalize students locked out of schools statewide because of the pandemic.
Students who don’t get passing grades on regular classwork by the end of the school year would have to attend summer school.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said students who receive meals at their schools will continue to receive them under a "grab-and-go" program.
In Westchester County, some daycares opened for first responders who have to go to work through the outbreak. While these locations are for children 5 years old or older, provisions for children younger than that are being finalized:
- Ardsley: Concord Road Elementary School
- Bedford: Mount Kisco Elementary School
- Blind Brook: Bruno M Ponterio Ridge Street School
- Bronxville: Bronxville Elementary School
- Byram Hills: Armonk Children's Corner
- Croton-Harmon: Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School
- Dobbs Ferry: Coordinated with existing after-school program at Springhurst Elementary School
- Edgemont: Edgemont High School
- Greenburgh – North Castle: Kenneth B. Clark Academy
- Harrison: Harrison Elementary School
- Hastings on Hudson:
- Pre-K to 4th Grade: Hillside Elementary School
- 5th and 6th Grade: Farragut Middle School
- Hendrick Hudson: Hendrick Hudson Elementary School
- Irvington: Dows Lane Elementary School
- Katonah – Lewisboro: Elementary School
- Mount Vernon: Holmes Elementary School
- Additional childcare resources will be provided at Macedonian Baptist Church; Mount Vernon Heights Congregational Church and Allen Memorial Church or the Church of God in Christ
- New Rochelle: City School District of New Rochelle’s District Offices (second floor of New Rochelle City Hall)
- Ossining: Park Elementary School
- Peekskill: Uriah Hill Elementary Schools
- Pelham: Siwanoy and Hutchinson Elementary School(s)
- Rye City: Rye High School or Rye Middle School
- Somers: Somers Intermediate School
- Tarrytown: John Paulding Elementary School
- Valhalla: Easter Seals or Valhalla Middle/High School
- White Plains: Post Road Elementary School between 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
- Yonkers: Sites may accommodate 2-3 classes of 10 students aged 4-12:
- Casimir Pulaski School – 150 Kings Cross, Scarsdale
- Montessori School 31 – 7 Ravenswood Road
- School 17 – 745 Midland Ave
- Yorktown: Yorktown High School between 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Provisions for the younger children (0-5 years-old) in the County are still being fleshed out.
- Statewide closure effective March 18, though many schools shut earlier
- Plans to reopen: Schools will be closed through April 17; extended closures may be required
- More resources from New Jersey Department of Education
After saying for days that closing schools in the state was "inevitable," Gov. Phil Murphy closed all schools — public, private and parochial — statewide for at least two weeks starting Wednesday, March 18. Murphy said that the closure could easily last longer as well.
New Jersey's measures also extend to colleges and universities in the state, which will also remain closed for that time. Unlike in New York, the order does not include daycare centers.
Nearly a million and a half students are impacted by the schools closing, as well as more than 100,000 teachers.
While many districts in the state, including all Bergen County public schools, had already announced they would be switching to remote or electronic learning, other locations in the state don't have plans in place to transition to online learning as easily. Other districts also have significant student populations that don't have access to computers or tablets at home, meaning they would have to either make other adjustments or get the state to provide the necessary technology.
Murphy later canceled all standardized testing for students in the state for the spring. The cancellation is pending approval from the U.S. Department of Education, but Murphy believes it will be approved after Betsy DeVos announced a waiver would be made available.
All child care centers in the state were ordered to close by Gov. Murphy, unless they were solely serving children of essential workers (first responders, medical workers, critical employees at retail businesses deemed essential, etc.). The centers that were serving essential workers were told to certify if they were doing so by March 27, otherwise they would have to close by April 1.
- Statewide closure effective March 17, though many schools shut earlier
- Plans to reopen: Schools will not reopen until April 20 at the earliest, according to a executive order from Gov. Lamont
- More resources from Connecticut Department of Education
Connecticut schools will also close this week. Gov. Ned Lamont ordered schools statewide to close on Tuesday, March 17, and initially hoped to reopen by March 31, but an executive order from Gov. Ned Lamont extended the closure until at least April 20. The governor said it was likely that schools could remain closed until the fall.
"Students who receive meals through the school lunch/breakfast program will be able to continue receiving meals while classes are canceled," Gov. Lamont said.
Many Connecticut school districts are also making "grab and go" meals available for their students during the mandated closures. More than 120 schools have been approved to serve as locations where the meals can be picked up and eaten at home. There is also a combination of different locations districts are using to distribute the meals, such as parks, YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs and town offices.
At least 12,500 students in the Waterbury School District rely on school lunch for their meal, NBC Connecticut reports. Stamford Public Schools said they would provide such "grab-and-go" meals to anyone under the age of 18 at more than two dozen school locations throughout the city.
In New Haven, the mayor on Monday issued an emergency order to close any childcare centers providing childcare services for more than 12 children amid concerns about coronavirus.
Lamont also waived the 180 school-day requirement if the school year cannot be concluded by June 30.