What to Know
- Over 100 New York school districts faced a deadline Friday to submit their plan to the state for the opening of the new school year, now just weeks away
- 1,200 of New York City's 1,800 schools have decided which of the available blended learnings models their students will be offered
- After the United Federation of Teachers made nurses in schools one of its key demands for reopening this fall, Mayor Bill de Blasio said every New York City public school building will have a certified nurse
About 1 in 7 New York school districts faced a deadline Friday to submit their plan to the state for the opening of the new school year, now just weeks away.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week said 107 of the state's roughly 700 school districts failed to submit reopening plans to both the state's health and education agencies. New York originally set a July 31 deadline but dozens of school districts, including county's largest school district New York City, requested one-week extensions to submit plans.
The governor said districts that don't submit their plans by Friday cannot provide in-person learning this year. He previously said schools could reopen this fall if they had approved plans, and assuming they choose to do so.
"They can open, doesn't mean they must open," Cuomo said Friday.
Despite pleas from teachers and principals to delay the return of students to classrooms, the governor and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio held firm to plans to reopen schools with in-person learning in a month. Some school districts like New Rochelle are already opting out of the return to class and choosing to keep all remote-learning for at least through September.
In New York City, some 1,200 of the 1,800 schools have settled on one of the available blended learning models decided by the Department of Education. Parents are to be notified starting next week of which days each week their students will be in school for instruction if they are part of a blended model.
DOE Press Secretary Miranda Barbot says 573 schools opted for Model 1, which divides students into two groups for two days a week and one alternating day for a total of five days of in-person instruction every two weeks. 279 schools chose Model 2, which divides students into three groups each getting one consistent day a week and two alternating days for five days in the classroom every three weeks. 151 schools chose Model 3, which is only offered to middle and high schools and divides students into three groups for a six-day rotation for a total of five days in the classroom every three weeks. Lastly, 64 schools opted for Models 4 and 5, only offered in District 75, which has students in schools every other week for five days straight.
Another 125 schools requested and were approved for an exception, Barbot says. Another few hundred are already under review and all school-specific plans were to be submitted by end of day Friday.
In a recent national poll, 83% of kindergarten through 12th grade teachers say they are concerned about returning to in-person instruction, NBC News reported.
Kiyoi Tolliver-Van Wright, a teacher in Yonkers who said she caught COVID-19 in February along with 11 of her students, told "Today" that she wants lawmakers to come down and see what it's like in classrooms.
"We're overcrowded. A lot of times, there's no ventilation. Those people don't work in those conditions," she said. Just as in the Westchester County school district, New York City schools are aiming for a hybrid reopening with most of the 1.1 million students spending two or three days a week in physical classrooms and learning remotely the rest of the time (with parents given the option of requesting full-time remote learning for their children.)
Mayor de Blasio conceded there were challenges with the plan as the city recovers from a pandemic. But he said the city has managed to lower the rate of positive cases to around 1% and that it owes it to children and their families to reopen promptly.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
“Our kids need to be in school," de Blasio told reporters during a briefing Thursday. "Our parents are very, very concerned that our kids have already lost a lot of their education, that they’ve gone through a lot of trauma. We’ve got to get them back into school buildings where they can get so much more support.”
After the United Federation of Teachers made nurses in schools one of its key demands for reopening this fall, Mayor Blasio also said Thursday every New York City public school building will have a certified nurse,
De Blasio said NYC Health and Hospitals was working to ensure there was adequate staffing for the plan — which calls for a contract of 400 full-time nurses — and noted that, despite concerns about availability, there was still a month to find everyone needed. He also said that along with the nurses, "rigorous test and trace protocols" will be used to help stop the virus from spreading after schools reopen.
Additionally, the more than 2,000 early childcare programs in the city will now require more nurses, as de Blasio said 100 nurses would be hired to provide coverage — with the ZIP codes hardest hit by COVID-19 receiving priority.
"Before anything else this fall, we are prioritizing health and safety, and this is an absolutely critical component of providing a safe place for our young people to learn during this pandemic," said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza.
In an interview with NBC New York, Carranza said that getting students back in classroom, if at all possible health- and safety-wise, is a good thing for them.
"If we are able to, from a medical perspective, come back even a few days a week, that is healthy for children and adults," Carranza said, but added that he wouldn't be surprised if more parents opt for only remotely learning before school begins. "We said all along, parents are juggling a lot of difficult decisions and those numbers will probably be very fluid."
The comments came a day after a union representing school administrators sent a letter to de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza saying school leaders still had questions on issues ranging from staffing, to personal protective equipment, to ventilation system repairs.
“Regrettably, the city started the planning process far too late for them to have any faith or confidence that they can reopen their buildings on September 10th,” according to the letter from Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro.
School districts have until Aug. 21 to post their plans for remote learning, testing and tracing on the websites.
And Cuomo warned school officials in New York City and statewide that they have just three weeks to provide three to five public sessions with teachers and parents on reopening plans.