What to Know
- The city's Department of Education is launching a new plan to help students recover from learning loss due to the ongoing pandemic, while also focusing on their emotional and mental health needs, officials announced Thursday.
- During his coronavirus press briefing Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while the COVID-19 vaccine is the light and hope needed to tackle the pandemic, the fallout from the health crisis will still be felt long after the pandemic is over -- including within the education system.
- With this in mind the city will launch a 2021 Student Achievement Plan to close the COVID achievement gap that became apparent during the ongoing health crisis, which forced schools to close and turn to remote learning for months, before they returned in a hybrid model.
The city's Department of Education is launching a new plan to help students recover from learning loss due to the ongoing pandemic, while also focusing on their emotional and mental health needs, officials announced Thursday.
During his coronavirus press briefing Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while the COVID-19 vaccine is the light and hope needed to tackle the pandemic, the fallout from the health crisis will still be felt long after the pandemic is over -- including within the education system.
"It's time to look to the future," he said. "It's time to start thinking about what our city is going to be like as the [forthcoming] vaccine is distributed more and more, what are schools are going to be like in the future. How we can address the needs of our kids and families and it's time to really reckon with the challenge we are seeing very, very clearly, which is the way that COVID has stood in the way of our kids' education: the fact that there has been learning loss and there will continue to be learning loss ahead that we have to compensate for and then overcome."
With this in mind the city will launch a 2021 Student Achievement Plan to close the COVID achievement gap that became apparent during the ongoing health crisis, which forced schools to close and turn to remote learning for months, before they returned in a hybrid model.
"We have to have to have a clear plan going into next school year to maximize achievement," the mayor said. "Our schools are going to come back stronger than ever, I don't doubt it. Our 2021 student achievement plan will give us the foundation to make sure that approach reaches every single child."
Officials also noted that the disruption brought forth by the pandemic has also caused emotional trauma and challenges to many children -- another issue that will be addressed as part of the plan.
"Kids have gone through a lot," de Blasio. "They've gone through a lot in terms of their education -- and the disruption to their education -- [and] they've gone through a lot emotionally: everything that has happened to them, to their families, to their community."
Although Richard Carranza, the Chancellor for New York City Schools, described the past several months as a "whirlwind" for students, parents and educators, he said "it's time to think about recovery. Literally looking up from the here and now and looking forward to where we are going."
Carranza said that the path forward will require "a recovery period and that's the vision and framework" of the plan for the following school year.
The plan which looks slightly ahead and "out of the immediate moment," as Carranza described, includes:
- Getting a baseline of what academic ground was lost with low-stakes diagnostic assessments citywide and interim assessments throughout the school year to monitor progress and tailor learning. "You can't know where to focus unless you know what to focus on," Carranza said;
- Increasing access high-quality digital curriculum at every school in the district;
- Launching one-stop digital learning hub. "This will be a new learning management system phased in, and developed and customized for New York City Schools that houses lessons and tools and that can be shared across the city to help students, their teachers and families better understand how a student is progressing," Carranza said;
- Deepening professional development for teachers "so our educators have the training and tools to close the gaps," according to the school chancellor;
- Expanding "Parent University to continue supporting parents with the tools they need to support and deepen learning at home in their language";
- Confronting the trauma and mental health crisis faced by students through a citywide approach.
"This vision is rooted in healing and in learning because our students need both," Carranza said.
School officials are also looking how to better utilize existing resources as they move ahead and using common "robust" and "adaptable" assessments among schools to see where students stand and reach each child in particular ways.
Carranza said the district will share more details on the plan in the weeks and months to come.
"We have a lot of work to do alongside our brilliant educators and leader across the Department of Education to build this out to completion," he said.
Thursday also marked the day that District 75 schools reopened after school buildings across New York City were closed to in-person learning since Nov. 19 due to the city's 3 percent rolling positivity rate. The previously set 3 percent threshold will no longer guide the decision to close schools citywide.
City officials reopened public school buildings in a phased approach, starting with 3-K, Pre-K and K-5 students, with the first schools reopening on Monday with District 75 students of all grade levels returning to the classroom Thursday.
The city is reopening schools in phases, in part, to make sure enhanced testing resources will be available for returning students. When the schools reopen, weekly coronavirus testing will be in effect for students and faculty.
The city is reopening schools "because we have so much proof now of how safe schools can be," de Blasio said Sunday. "We feel confident that we can keep schools safe."
Meanwhile, as city officials continue to stress the importance of COVID-19 testing overall, it is anxiously awaiting for its vaccine doses to finally be delivered. This comes as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb. On Thursday, the mayor reported an additional 2,614 cases in the Big Apple. The 7-day rolling average percentage of city residents who tested positive stands at 5.32%.
"We are dealing with a challenge," de Blasio said regarding the increase in cases.