‘Unprecedented Learning': What NYC Summer School Will Be Like for Nearly 180K Students

The plans were developed amid the city's ongoing battle with the coronavirus pandemic

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Remote learning will be part of summer school this year for nearly 180,000 New York City students, the mayor and schools chancellor announced Tuesday.

According to the city, 177,700 students have been identified as needing additional support and have been slated for summer program enrollment. Of those, 67,000 are students between grades three to eight. Another 83,000 are high schoolers.

"We see this as a summer where unprecedented learning can happen, and it can propel us forward into the next school year," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

Grades 3-8

  • For students in grades 3-8, summer learning will take place from July 6 to Aug. 11.
  • The program will run four days a week for six weeks and will be "on a required or recommended basis."
  • The curriculum will cover math and English language arts and will be taught via live or pre-recorded instruction.
  • Students will also participate in enrichment activities like virtual field trips.

The Chancellor of Schools, Richard Carranza, said students will also be meeting with guidance counselors or social workers regularly.

“Someone is always keeping a pulse on how they are doing in this remote learning environment,” he said.

Grades 9-12

  • For students in high school, summer learning will take place from July 6 to Aug. 14.
  • High school students in summer learning will participate in a five-day-a-week program for six weeks.
  • Students will get up to five hours of instruction daily, limited to subjects they did not pass.

One-to-one check-ins will be part of the summer programs for both high- and middle-schoolers.

Students in Individualized Education Programs

  • Summer learning for students with disabilities in a 12-month Individualized Education Programs will take place from July 1 to Aug. 13.
  • Students with 12-month individualized education programs will receive instruction five days a week for a total of six weeks.
  • Instruction will be up to 5.5 hours a day.

"This is also the same frequency that has happened in every summer as well," Carranza said.

Community building and social learning are part of the summer learning curriculum for all students.

New York City had to transition its 1.1 million public school students to online learning within a week when the pandemic hit, forcing states to shut down their in-person instruction. It takes special effort to connect with kids and keep them engaged, de Blasio says. Some may need more help over the coming months.

"This obviously has been a constantly evolving situation but there is one thing that has never wavered for a moment -- and that is that the city of New York is focused on accelerating learning and making sure that all students stay on track for continued success the next academic year and that is not changing when this school year comes to an end," Carranza said.

De Blasio also acknowledged that students and parents are growing restless and because of this the city has been working with museums, libraries and the private sector to come up with virtual self-directed and group activities. Some of the ideas include: virtual field trips, new educational programming, ebooks and virtual clubs.

To help with getting more students access to online learning, the city said it acquired another 300,000 iPads to help give children the necessary tools to learn.

As the city' focuses on what to do for students over the summer, some schools and groups are already looking ahead to next fall, seeing if opening is an option. New York University sent a letter to undergrad students on Tuesday, telling them that the school is expecting to conduct in-person classes come the fall semester, pending health directives from the government. NYU also described a "Go Local" program, where students who can't get to their home campus due to the virus can take classes at another NYU location (assuming it is open).

A spokesman for NYU called the letter a "preliminary" one, while admitting that "2020-2021 will not be like any other year." The school will be "letting the NYU community know more over the coming weeks about our plans for reopening with precautions for their safety and health in place — such as social distancing, mask wearing, and other expectations in line with state and local guidelines — as well as the specifics of the coming academic year," the spokesman said.

The city teachers union is also thinking about what schools and educations will look like come the fall. The United Federation of Teachers was pushing a petition and a five-point safety plan if classrooms were to be filled again in September, calling for widespread testing, social distancing, cleaning and protective equipment, as well as contact tracing.

"Without these protections in place, our staff and students — and the families they ho home to at night — will not be safe from the virus," the union wrote as part of its petition.

As far as fall learning, de Blasio says any decisions will prioritize student safety above all else. Right now, it's too early to make a call -- and disturbing new data about how COVID affects kids has added yet another layer to the decision-making process. New York City has identified nearly 150 possible cases of what the CDC has called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). The syndrome is linked to COVID, the CDC says, but attacks the blood vessels rather than the respiratory system. In some cases, it has attacked children's hearts.

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