Roughly two thirds of the Big Apple’s 1,800 public schools have had their coronavirus reopening plans approved – as every school opted for a mix of in-class and distance learning and none requested only remote, the agency said Friday.
All individual plans for the city’s schools were due to be submitted to the state by Friday, thanks to an extension. The DOE issued a midday press release that only accounted for roughly 1,200 schools but insisted that the remaining plans would be submitted by the deadline.
Officials said 1,067 schools have chosen one of the blended learning DOE models, which means students will go to school between one and three days a week depending on the chosen format of the school.
More than half of those schools – or 573 of them – chose the DOE model that splits the students into two groups, and each group will consistently attend school twice a week and alternate between remote learning and in-person learning on an additional day on a weekly basis.
Students in schools on that model will be in classrooms five times total every two weeks.
And 279 schools chose the model that splits students into three groups with each group consistently in class once a week, alternating two additional days on a weekly basis, while 151 schools chose a model that’s only available to middle and high schools which splits students into three groups on an alternating six-day schedule.
Sixty-four schools chose learning models available only to District 75 schools, which serves special needs students. Those models may have students in schools every other week for five days straight, with potential for some groups to be in-person full-time dependent on student-need, the DOE said.
So far, 125 schools have requested tweaks to the standard models that have been approved by the DOE. Another 236 have similar requests pending, according to the agency.
“Some schools have submitted schedule model exception requests that are still being reviewed, and will be approved or denied in the coming days,” DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot said.
Though individual families can opt for full remote learning at any point in the year, the DOE has discouraged principals from pursuing full remote learning as a school-wide policy. The agency has allowed administrators to apply for a fully remote format, but none have applied for it so far.
Each plan contains school specific information like how many days a week students will be in school for in-person learning, the identification of who will be responsible for communication with the school community on the reopening plan, who will assess students who are ill, and who will be the COVID-19 safety coordinator.
“Parents need to know their schedules in order to plan, and starting next week, schools will begin telling parents exactly which days their kids will be in school for those students in a blended learning model,” said Barbot.
Last week, the city released its final overall plan on reopening schools, which included details on coronavirus testing for students and staffers, protocols on positive cases and potential schools closures.
The 109-page proposal outlines how students with a temperature of more than 100 degrees will not be allowed to enter the building and says that staffers, including teachers, will undergo COVID-19 testing on a rolling basis once school is in session. The DOE recommends that staffers get checked “at least once a month.”
The city’s plan allows individual schools to apply for exceptions to the blended model if it’s not “feasible given space, staffing, family choice and expected in-person attendance.”
The final proposal was an expanded version of one submitted to the state for approval last week.
The initial 32-page system-wide plan that the city had submitted to the state was previously panned by some state officials as not being detailed enough.
The DOE’s reopening plans will still require state approval.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week green-lit all of New York’s more than 700 school districts to reopen this fall, including the Big Apple.
The governor has said that schools can reopen as long as the COVID-19 positivity rate remains below 5 percent over a two-week period.
That stands in contrast to what Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that city’s daily positive-test rate for the coronavirus must remain below 3 percent.
This week, the city’s principals union called for a delay in the reopening of the Big Apple’s public schools to allow more time to address coronavirus concerns.
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