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Chancellor Richard Carranza
NYC Schools Chancellor
I hope you are safe and healthy, and finding some rest and relaxation this summer. As we are approaching the start of the 2020-21 school year, I want to share some important new information with you about health and safety protocols in your child’s school—and every school—for the upcoming year.
All schools are preparing for blended learning, during which students learn in-person in school buildings for part of the week, and continue learning remotely from home on the other days. However, any family can choose 100% remote learning for any reason. If your preference is 100% remote learning, we ask that you let us know by this Friday, August 7, so that schools have enough time to plan. Please visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 to fill out a short web form, or call 311.
In this letter you will find:
While we continue to carefully monitor a constantly changing health landscape, one thing remains steadfast: our commitment to the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff. This priority is the foundation of all of our policy moving into September.
On July 31, the Mayor and I announced that for school buildings to open in September and remain open, on a weekly average the city must see fewer than 3% of all COVID-19 tests come back positive. Additionally, if 3% or more of New Yorkers who are tested for COVID-19 are found to have the virus after we open, school buildings will close again, and 100% of learning will be remote for every student.
Since June, we’ve hovered around 1-2%, and are working closely with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health), NYC Test + Trace, and the Mayor’s Office to prepare for a coordinated school reopening. If staff and students aren’t healthy, they can’t teach and learn, and we are doing all we can to ensure that schools remain safe and healthy for learning.
In close collaboration with our expert colleagues at NYC Health, we have developed strict protocols that address prevention, precaution, and response to one or more of our students or employees having a confirmed case of COVID-19. It’s important to know that a “confirmed case” means that a parent or guardian, student, or staff member submits a positive test result from a healthcare provider or laboratory—like a City-run testing site, a private doctor, or an urgent care center—to the school.
Our protocols to keep school communities healthy include:
If there's more than one case in a school, and it's not in the same classroom, learning will continue remotely and the school building will close for at least 24 hours while NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health investigate. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, affected classrooms or the whole building will remain closed for 14 days for quarantine.
Students will continue their learning remotely during any necessary quarantine periods.
Testing and tracing are part of several strict health protocols designed to keep our school communities healthy. Here are the key things that you and your family should know about NYC Department of Education (DOE) health and safety practices, policies, and protocols as we re-open our school buildings in September:
For more details on these and other policies, please visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 and click “Health and Safety” for additional information and all the latest updates.
We are approaching reopening by centering health and safety and basing our policies on the expertise of health professionals—period.
I’ve been a public school parent, teacher, and principal, and I know what it feels like to want the best possible education for your child while ensuring the health and safety of your entire family. We have collectively learned a lot since March—both about the virus, and about our ability to react and respond to it in real time. That’s why we won’t settle for anything but the strictest and most rigorous processes for coming back to school.
We will send more information in the coming days and weeks. As always—thank you for being part of the DOE family.
I hope you and your children are well and enjoying some time off this summer. September will be here before we know it, and I am writing to you today to keep you updated on the 2020–21 school year and make sure you know how to be part of the conversation. Throughout this summer, as we diligently work to clarify operations for the fall, I promise to be transparent about what we know—and what we don’t yet know.
First things first: New York City students will be learning five days a week, whether in person or at home. As previously announced, schools are planning for blended learning, in which students will be taught in school buildings for part of the week, and will continue learning remotely from home on the other days of the week. Any family can also choose all-remote learning, for any reason. We know that the majority of families want as much in-person instruction as is safely possible, and we will work to maximize it at every turn, consistent with health and safety requirements. However, if you intend to choose all-remote learning for your child and have not yet notified us, please let us know by August 7 so schools can plan accordingly. You can fill out a web form (Open external link) or call 311.
To enable you to make a more informed choice, we have prepared some important comparisons about what you can expect from each mode of learning, below. Families who choose all-remote instruction will be able to opt back in to blended learning on a quarterly basis throughout the school year, beginning in November.
No matter whether you are at school in-person or you are learning remotely, you and your child are still enrolled in and part of your school community. Your child’s schedule and learning experience will be fully managed by your school. The vast majority of students who participate in fully remote learning will be taught by teachers from their school. While there may be some limited exceptions on a school-by-school basis, you should expect your child to be assigned teachers from their school when they receive their full schedule before the school year begins.
As our plans continue to come together, we must be nimble. We will make adjustments as public health conditions continue to evolve.
Every week, we will be posting more information about school operations to our Return to School 2020 page. Please bookmark this page and visit it frequently. On this page, you will find information on Physical Education, Arts Education, and more. We are asking for your patience and flexibility throughout this process as we work through a great deal of planning in collaboration with our teachers, principals, and school-based staff.
Your voice and feedback are essential as our work continues. We are creating many opportunities for you to discuss the year ahead with the DOE, and we hope you will get involved. We hosted our first citywide information session on July 16, and received many great suggestions from families across the City. Please join us for one of the upcoming info sessions Tuesday, July 28; Wednesday, August 12; and Thursday, August 27. You can visit our Return to School 2020 page to register and submit a question.
In addition, each school will host a parent meeting to discuss the proposed school schedule and to review planning for the year ahead, and we will be holding community and advocate round-table meetings, briefings with Community Education Council leaders and elected officials, and more.
While the world around us continues to change, our commitment to the health and safety of our students, teachers, staff, and families remains steadfast, and so does our focus on equity and excellence. We will deliver what your child needs to succeed academically, knowing the traumatic impact this crisis has had on New Yorkers of all ages. We will ensure your child feels welcome and supported in their school community, no matter what.
Thank you for continuing to share your comments and questions. I have said it before, but it’s no less true now: You are our most important partners and I am grateful for you today and every day. Please stay safe and healthy.
|Fully Remote Learning Experience||Blended Learning Experience|
|Fully remote instruction at home.||Combination of learning in-person at school buildings, and remote instruction at home.|
Students participate in a regular schedule of age-appropriate, standards-based remote learning from home every day.
Students go to school buildings for age-appropriate, standards-based, in-person instruction on some days; and continue their learning from home remotely on the other days of the week.
|Students will have live interaction with teachers every day.||
On in-person days, students will attend classes in their school building.
We are also working to ensure live interaction for students in blended learning on each day they are learning remotely.
|Every class will include live instruction. The amount will vary by grade, depending on what is developmentally appropriate.||On in-person days, students will have the opportunity for whole class, small group, and individual work and collaboration with classmates and teachers.|
Students will use a DOE-approved online platform (such as iLearnNYC or Google Classroom), available in multiple languages, for lessons and submission of work.
Students will experience whole class, small group and/or individualized instruction in an online environment, as well as collaboration with classmates and teachers.
|Students will use a DOE-approved online platform (such as iLearnNYC or Google Classroom), available in multiple languages, for lessons and submission of work.
|We will make every effort to ensure students consistently have the same instructors throughout the year.
||We will make every effort to ensure students will be taught by a consistent set of teachers in-person and remotely, who work together throughout the year to maintain continuity and maximize learning.|
|There will be an emphasis on social-emotional learning across school communities to ensure the mental health and wellness of students and staff.||There will be an emphasis on social-emotional learning across school communities to ensure the mental health and wellness of students and staff.|
|Students will be able to access video-recorded lessons, assignments, and tasks.
||Students will be able to access video-recorded lessons, assignments, and tasks.
|Teachers will regularly engage students and families to check student work, provide timely feedback, and adjust instruction as necessary, via remote learning platforms, calls, emails, video chats, etc.
||Teachers will regularly engage students and families to check student work, provide timely feedback, and adjust instruction as necessary, in-person and via remote learning platforms, calls, emails, video chats, etc.|
|Students and families will have access to one-on-one support to help with instructional activities.||Students and families will have access to one-on-one support to help with instructional activities.|
I hope you are having a restful summer so far, and staying healthy and safe. I am writing today to share important information about the fall, when school will start up again for the 2020-2021 school year. Please bookmark schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020, where more information is available, and which will be regularly updated as we get closer to reopening.
Our commitment to health and safety drives everything that we do. It drove the transition to remote learning this past March, when we knew that closing school buildings was essential to flattening the curve of COVID-19 infection across New York City. It was profoundly challenging, but you and your children handled it with unbelievable grace and effort, and school communities came together to make it work in historic fashion.
Now, almost four months later, our commitment to health and safety will drive us into the new school year. We have been through so much together, and as we look ahead to September, we see the big picture: the continuing rise in cases across the country; current guidance from City, State, and Federal health authorities; and the knowledge that as the trajectory of the virus continues to evolve, the guidance we must follow will also evolve. When it does, we have to be ready, and prepared to adapt. We’ve also received over 400,000 responses from families and students to a survey asking about preferences and concerns for the upcoming year, and your input has been critical in our planning.
Taken together, this picture demands we begin the 2020-21 school year in an unprecedented way—including new health protocols, physical distancing, and more. Make no mistake: New York City students will still be learning 5 days a week. A major difference is that we are preparing to deliver their education through a blended learning model. Blended learning means students will be taught on-site in school for part of the week, and will attend school remotely on the other days of the week.
Any family can also choose all-remote learning, for any reason. But we know that the majority of families want as much in-person instruction as is safely possible, and we will work to maximize it at every turn, consistent with health and safety requirements. We will continue to lead with the lens of equity and excellence, giving your child what they need to excel—and recognizing the ways that will be different from each of their classmates, especially in a time of crisis. We will not look away from the ways this virus has further magnified the effects of systemic racism in our communities. We will continue to explore opportunities to directly correct structural inequities—like closing the digital divide.
Our plans must be nimble so we can adjust and update as needed, as the public health landscape continues to evolve. We are also awaiting guidance from the State of New York, and we will be closely coordinating with them once it is released. All of the most up-to-date information will be available at Return to School 2020. Please remember that this guidance may change as public health conditions evolve.
In closing, I want to say that I’m excited, and I’m anxious—just like you. I know that blending in-person and remote learning feels like an improvement over the all-remote experience of the last three months, but still comes with many questions and concerns. We will work with you every step of the way to answer questions around sibling scheduling, transportation, what happens if there’s a confirmed case in a school, and more. I’m committed to doing everything I can to make this easy for you—and I will not compromise on health and safety.
I always say that New York City has the best students, families, and staff in the world—and that nothing will ever change that. A safe return to schools in the fall, and the broader safety of our whole city, will require we consistently work together as partners—DOE staff, families, and students. Together we can ensure that the 1.1 million students—your children—in the NYC public school system get the education they deserve in the safest, most supportive environments possible.
The health and safety of all NYC Department of Education (DOE) students continues to be our first priority in the wake of the evolving situation around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York City.
There are a number of actions we have taken and many things you can do to keep our communities safe. The most important action you can take is to stay home if you are sick.
For the most up-to-date information about the NYC Department of Education's response to the spread of the coronavirus, please visit https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/health-and-wellness/coronavirus-update
It is my pleasure to serve as your Schools Chancellor. I am eager to meet parents and families, and hear your hopes for your children and schools.
To read the full letter from Richard Carranza, please click below.