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Saturday, September 19, 2020

No School Buses For NYC Special Education Students





 It is simply outrageous that Mayor de Blasio and Richard Carranza ignore the needs of NY City's most vulnerable students, those kids with physical and mental challenges.

De Blasio is showing his extreme incompetency as a leader in the area of public education which has been under his control since he was elected. Mayoral control was voted on in 2002 as a way for Michael Bloomberg, NYC Mayor at the time, to gain political control over the education budget - already in the $billions. Now the school budget is $34 billion. 

School busing has been a problem for many years.

When one of my daughters was accepted to NEST+M for 6th grade in 2003, I became involved in the Parent Teacher Association, and very soon found a whopper of a ridiculous problem: kids who were accepted to NEST+M but did not live in District 1, a little spot at the southern end of Manhattan, had no free bus service to get to school. The NYC DOE offered bus service only to D1 families.


I live in District 2, and NEST+M is a city-wide G&T school. This means that kids were accepted from all the boroughs, including Staten Island, but they were not able to get any transportation unless they had a car, paid for car service, or took the subway. The nearest subway is pretty far away from NEST +M, which is located at 111 Columbia Street 1 block from the FDR Drive and Bard Early College.  

NEST+M is k-12. What the NYC DOE explained is that kids who go to NEST+M can get a Metrocard to travel to/from school. The argument I made that kindergarten kids should not have to travel by subway, taking parents from their jobs to accompany them. I heard from the bus company that they had to travel alone, that's all they could do.

So I set up a Transportation Committee and found  (1) parents with their own cars who would be willing to take 1 or 2 neighboring kids with them on a daily basis; (2) a car service that offered a low-cost deal round trip, on the condition that a parent adult was always in the car with the driver. 

Hardly a solution! I went to NYC Council to try to get money from the NYC DOE or City budget, all said no way, sorry. Some were polite and others were not. I called all the bus companies in the NYC area, and entered the world of political corruption and extortion, all about money. Although my dad was in politics, I was aghast. Welcome to political manipulation and control of public funding.

I am no longer a parent at NEST, but it seems that NEST+M is doing their own thing on reopening. Good for them!

Betsy Combier
betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog

Deaf, blind, disabled kids left with no school buses despite NYC reopening

by Bernadette Hogan, NY POST, Sept 18, 2020

Hundreds of blind, deaf and disabled children attending independently run special education schools in New York City reopened for in-person classes have been denied bus transportation by the Department of Education, administrators and parents say.

The New York State Education Department’s reopening policy mandates local school districts provide busing to kids outside the public school system, but since early September the city Office for Pupil Transportation (OPT) has been dragging its feet with little explanation, school administrators charge.

The New York Institute for Special Education in the Bronx — which serves roughly 250 kids in grades pre-K through 12 — wanted to reopen for in-person instruction on Sept. 9, coinciding with DOE’s former reopening date of Sept. 10.

But once the City pushed back that date, the Institute revised their plan and set a new reopening date — this past Monday, Sept. 14 —  but without bus services.

The OPT has repeatedly told the Institute’s executive director Dr. Bernadette Kappen and inquiring parents that they can’t offer transportation until a later date, with little explanation, according to emails reviewed by The Post.

“We were prepared to have our children who wanted to begin in-person schooling come on the 9th,” Kappen told The Post.

“Then there was discussion there wouldn’t be transportation this coming Monday on the 21st. The Office of Pupil Transportation said now the transportation isn’t going to start until the 29th. We think it’s coinciding with the New York City Department of Education’s pushback,” she said, arguing it violates state standards that say school districts must provide bus service to schools as part of reopening plans.

“Pupil transportation must be provided to students attending religious and independent schools, charter schools or students whose individualized education program (IEP) have placed them out of district,” states a Sept. 9 memo from state Education Department Interim Commissioner Betty Rosa, which Kappen cited.

“We are not supposed to be tied into [DOE’s] schedule. Whatever date we will tell our school district we will be in session, we should be able to transport,” she added.

“The parents are caught in the middle of this and it really causes a lot of distress because they don’t know what is going to happen with their children and many of them have to go to work. We were worried about the lack of any guidelines.”

Dr. Rebecca Renshaw, the executive director at the Lavelle School for the Blind in the Bronx, which serves roughly 130 kids ages 3 to 21, said parents who opted to send their children for in-person instruction this week have had to physically transport kids from as far as Brooklyn all week — and it’s placing a significant burden on an already vulnerable population.

"The transportation piece has been chaos, or silence — or a little bit of both.”

She said she has been called by at least one bus company that said service may resume this coming Monday, but has been unable to receive confirmation with city education officials despite multiple messages sent over the past day and a half.

“Our students need to be back, we’re ready, we’ve been working since the beginning of June. We’re ready — we need transportation to get them here, we worked really hard and to put it together and then the one part we couldn’t control — transportation — has delayed them from full access to their education,” she added.

The city Department of Education did not immediately return a call for comment.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio's Staff Fed Up With His Capricious and Insular Management Style

                                                   NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio
 

How I wish we New Yorkers could be proud of our loyalty to New York City, the city that never sleeps!

Of course, I keep saying that I am a proud New Yorker, but even to me, it sounds hollow and fake.

Our Mayor is Bill de Blasio. Arguably the worst Mayor New York has ever had. Ok- I'm ready for the naysayers! I really would love to hear how someone in NYC's glorious past, another Mayor was worse than Bill in managing the city and his own staff. And wife.

That is the story here - how frustrated insiders who work for Mayor Bill feel the "often capricious and insular management style that sources describe as “emotionally, mentally and physically taxing” — and a major contributor to City Hall’s planning struggles and the exodus of administration staffers."

How long before he leaves office? More than a year?

Oh gosh.

Betsy Combier
betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog

Bill de Blasio’s City Hall rife with dysfunction, bombshell emails reveal

Nolan Hicks, NY POST, September 17, 2020

New York is beset by a surge in deadly shootings, homeless have taken over city blocks amid the coronavirus lockdown and officials cannot get schools back open, but City Hall is taking one thing seriously — arguing the racial sensitivity of a proclamation to commemorate women’s suffrage.

The nod to the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage was supposed to just be a “note” in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daily coronavirus briefing, but it ended up triggering a meltdown among his staffers, emails obtained by The Post show.

The imbroglio is symptomatic of de Blasio’s often capricious and insular management style that sources describe as “emotionally, mentally and physically taxing” — and a major contributor to City Hall’s planning struggles and the exodus of administration staffers.

“It is amateur hour. It’s a bunch of people who have no idea how City Hall works running the show because everyone else has left,” said one former staffer. “There are a lot of sharp elbows, it’s very vicious and very personal — and it gets in the way of focusing on the work at hand.”

The talking points prepared for de Blasio’s briefing on Aug. 26 noted that segregation and other laws meant that “not all women could exercise that right” to vote following the formal adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “Women of color excluded – fought for decades for equal access,” it added.

At 9:49 a.m., 11 minutes before the briefing was scheduled to begin, the email chain exploded.


Ashley Ross-Teel, pictured at left, who runs City Hall’s social media accounts, demanded that the talking points explicitly point out that only white women initially gained access to the voting booth. And she criticized the talking points saying women of color were discriminated against, instead of singling out African American women.

“Sorry, but why wasn’t white women added when it was flagged by [women of color],” she wrote. “Also there is growing negativity around incorporating Black women into WOC. Everyone’s struggles are not the same.”

Three minutes later, the author of the bullet points fired back.

“Because as a white woman, I find being negged for something that happened 100 years ago unnecessarily confrontational in this context,” wrote Marjorie Sweeney. “We’re trying to bring people together here, not trying to score points off each other.”

At least two other high-ranking de Blasio aides were pulled into the fight, offering last-minute suggestions that were signed off on by de Blasio’s recently hired $17,000-a-month special adviser, Peter Kauffmann at 10:03 am.

The briefing was already late.

De Blasio specifically referenced white women in his remarks that morning, but kept the initially proposed description of “women of color.”

“Not all women” could vote, he said, referencing the notes, which are kept in a small black binder. “Only white women — women of color excluded and they had to fight for many decades more.”

Afterward, his Chief of Staff Emma Wolfe chastised the staffers.

                                                         Marjorie Sweeney, speechwriter


“This should never have been a debate, not the least of which over email,” Wolfe wrote, demanding the communications staff find a “more professional process” to haggle over their differences.

Three former administration staffers said the blow-up is a symptom of the departure of experienced top aides, which they attributed to de Blasio’s mercurial nature, the stress of the coronavirus pandemic and months of protests — including by his own staff — demanding police and civil rights reforms.

“He will just blow everything up on a whim and it’s a domino effect,” one ex-staffer said. “It leads to avoidable last-minute scrambles on everything” — from key policy decisions to the briefing notes.

In theory, the work that goes into assembling the binder for de Blasio’s briefings should be largely complete by the morning. But Hizzoner often demands last-minute rewrites for little reason right up until he walks into the briefing, another source said. That leaves everyone stressed and under-the-gun, leading to eruptions.

“There are a lot of really smart and dedicated people at City Hall who love New York and he prevents them from doing their jobs effectively,” the person added. “It’s him, it lies at the top, it really does.”

The sources said the problems are particularly severe in the mayor’s press and communications departments, which de Blasio depends on to help vet and roll out policy in addition to the typical duties of drafting speeches and handling reporter inquiries.

The heads of both — former Press Secretary Freddi Goldstein and former Communications Director Wiley Norvell — quit on the same day in July without having lined up new jobs. Only Goldstein has been replaced so far.

“Infighting like this on an email chain, it’s an example of dysfunction and the unhappiness people are feeling,” added yet another person familiar.

De Blasio press secretary Bill Neidhardt responded, “Debating talking points is a basic function of all communications offices. That’s what you’re seeing here. In the end, the Mayor makes the call and he acknowledged our country’s painful history of denying women of color the right to vote.”

Gov. Cuomo blasts de Blasio over ‘waste’ in NYC budget

Chirlane McCray’s COVID-19 trauma program left out EMTs


Chirlane McCray enjoys $2M staff of 14 amid NYC budget crisis
                                                                   Chirlane McCray

NYC Council Education Chair Mark Treyger and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams Criticize NYC Mayor For Schools' Repoening Chaos

 

                                                                 Mark Treyger

WILLIAMS, TREYGER  RESPOND TO ANOTHER LAST-MINUTE DELAY IN SCHOOL RE-OPENING
 

NEW YORK, NY - THE COUNCIL OF THE
CITY OF NEW YORK

OFFICE OF COUNCIL MEMBER MARK TREYGER (District 47)
250 Broadway, Suite 1785
New York, NY 10007
(212) 788-7045

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Contact: Maria Henderson | 646-891-8441 | MHenderson@council.nyc.gov  

NEW YORK, NY - Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams and Council Member 


Mark Treyger, Education Chair, released the following joint statement after the Mayor announced another delay in school re-opening, just four days before the previous revised re-opening date of September 21 and after over 50 schools citywide have reported COVID-19 cases among staff. Council Education Chair Treyger released his school reopening proposal in July 2020. 

 

"It's obvious that in-person schooling needed to be delayed - it has been, as we have said, for months - and it's just as obvious that the Mayor's so-called strategy of bringing us to the brink over and over is misguided and detrimental. The insistence on reopening as soon as possible, at any cost, is a strategy doomed to keep students and parents, teachers, and administrators on the line only to pull a bait and switch again and again. The city needs time to increase staff, yes- but without also increasing safety measures, we will only see cases rise and time and lives lost. 


"COVID-19 and disastrous state-level budget cuts have put our education system in crisis, and the Mayor's lack of a clear vision and a clear plan are only deepening that crisis. There are ways to address childcare concerns, ways to better serve students most in need, but ignoring these methods in favor of a broad reopening by an ever-shifting date has only created more chaos, including for parents whose own plans rely on a City that doesn't have one. 

"The City needs to utilize this extra time, as they should have all along, to order and review the supply of technology devices available for students and staff. Remote learning will always be part of this school year, and all students should have access to quality technology, regardless of their zip code.

"The Mayor argues that the plan changes only as the reality does, but fails to accept the self-evident reality that the safest, smartest choice has always been to open the school year remotely before phasing in in-person learning as safety standards - not a schedule - warrant."


THE COUNCIL OF THE
CITY OF NEW YORK

OFFICE OF COUNCIL MEMBER MARK TREYGER (District 47)
250 Broadway, Suite 1785
New York, NY 10007
(212) 788-7045

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Contact: Maria Henderson | 646-891-8441 | MHenderson@council.nyc.gov


IBO Report Confirms Council Education Chair Treyger’s Assertion that NYSED & CDC School Reopening Guidance Adds Millions in New Weekly Costs for NYC Schools

A Report Released by the Independent Budget Office (IBO) Illustrates Staggering Cost Estimates to Meet New Health Guidelines Related to COVID-19

BROOKLYN, NY (September 17, 2020) -- Today, the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) released its findings for the additional weekly cost of operating New York City’s public schools while complying with New York State public health and education guidance prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Council Education Chair Mark Treyger requested the independent report from the IBO in July 2020. The new report projects that the additional costs could increase to $32 million per week across multiple city agencies. The IBO was unable to account for childcare provided by Learning Bridges; increased costs borne by community-based early childhood education providers; or additional capital expenditures, like HVAC upgrades, new technology purchases, and air filtration systems. All of these costs will likely significantly increase the cost of school reopening.

Many of the new expense estimates are directly correlated with implementing and adhering to new NYSED and CDC safety guidance measures for school reopening, as well as the New York City Department of Education’s (DOE) school reopening plan that was submitted to the State. Council Education Chair Treyger identified that reopening schools would likely incur additional costs in his school reopening white paper, and the IBO has confirmed that in their recent case study. In order to execute a safe and functional reopening of the largest school system in the nation, it is crucial that the City examines additional funding sources to meet the new costs that schools did not have last year.

Critically, the IBO does not identify a funding stream for these additional expenditures. With the decision by the Trump Administration to limit the City's ability to obtain federal reimbursement for PPE and cleaning, and the financial crisis experienced by the City and the State, the IBO acknowledges the expectation that some of these expenditures will be paid for using existing school budgets, possibly reducing other school-based programming.

Highlights from the IBO report include:

* $20,391,900 is the cost of additional teachers and nurses needed per week, over 60% of the additional costs to operate NYC schools. As many large schools are now pivoting to having students learn virtually within the school building, and teachers being asked to teach remote and in-person students simultaneously, it is clear that these additional staffing costs represent a crisis for a hybrid model.

* IBO expects the cost of PPE across all school-based staff to total $2.8 million each week, with more than 941,000 masks comprising $1.7 million of that cost. This includes masks for all school-based staff, students, school bus employees, school bus riders, custodial staff, and school food employees. Additional costs are for other PPE, including gloves and face shields, for employees who are in close contact with students, such as school nurses and special education paraprofessionals.

* Custodial costs—including spending for PPE, custodial supplies, and labor costs associated with the extra cleaning—will total nearly $6 million a week and account for more than 17 percent of the additional costs. Thus far, DOE has stated that they expect this cleaning to be completed using existing custodial budgets, at the expense of other work, including routine maintenance.

* Transportation costs would be significantly higher if DOE is forced to add buses in order to comply with social distancing requirements or if DOE has to reimburse parents for alternate methods of transportation.

* Total costs could increase based on capital upgrades, such as costs for upgrading HVAC systems, purchasing air filters for classrooms, and purchasing additional tablets and hotspots to meet students’ technology needs.

“I continue to reiterate to my colleagues in government that, in order to safely reopen our city’s schools, we have to identify new funding to address the extraordinary new costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new IBO estimates, in concert with the ever-changing guidance from the DOE as it struggles to operate within existing resources, demonstrate the extent of the need,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education. “With federal aid unlikely to arrive any time soon, the State and City must act. The Governor has paused his disastrous 20% cuts to education aid, but only temporarily. I have been very clear: the City needs long-term borrowing authority, and additional funding from the State to safely reopen schools. We cannot reopen schools before it is safe to do so."

You can access the NYC Independent Budget Office full report on School Reopening Cost Estimates here.

Mayor Bill de Blasio Delays In-Person Learning in a Staggered Schedule For Different Grades

 

                                  NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

UPDATE:

The news changes by the minute. Previously this morning De Blasio delayed re-opening schools in grades 6-12, indefinitely. Then he changed his mind to:

"In-person learning will now start on Sept. 29 for kids in grades kindergarten through eight. Middle schools and high schools will now re-open in-person learning on Oct. 1.

Pre-k and 3-k students will still re-open on Sept. 21, the original in-person start date."

I cannot imagine what parents, educators, or staff are thinking. What plans can anyone make right now for home care needs, medical accommodations, etc? What happens if a parent has a child in pre-k and 4th grade. Who stays home with the 4th grader when the parent takes the pre-k child to/from school. What does a parent tell his/her employer? Bill de Blasio has let parents down with fake promises

All of this chaos costs plenty, and the budget as it stands right now cannot handle the $millions of dollars NYC needs to supply the necessary teachers, staff, and safety equipment.

We need to see a director who can do comprehensive project management as if this was an emergency.

Wait. This is an emergency. We need new eyes to create a new way to fund education in a pandemic. We can and must do this. 

NY Daily News, Sept. 17, 2020

Mayor de Blasio pushed back in-person school re-openings Thursday over concerns raised by union leaders.

In-person learning will now start on Sept. 29 for kids in grades kindergarten through eight. Middle schools and high schools will now re-open in-person learning on Oct. 1.

Pre-k and 3-k students will still re-open on Sept. 21, the original in-person start date.

“There are some blanks that we need to fill in," teachers union leader Michael Mulgrew said Thursday at a press conference with de Blasio. “We must make sure we get this right."

De Blasio said teacher staffing levels are the biggest concern and announced Thursday that the city will bring in another 2,500 teachers, in addition to the 2,000 he previously announced, bringing the total to 4,500 additional teachers.

De Blasio to delay in-person learning for grades 6-12

Julia Marsh and Selim Algar, NY POST, September 17, 2020

Under mounting pressure from unions and elected officials, Mayor de Blasio will delay in-person learning for students in grades 6-12, the Post has learned.

De Blasio is expected to announce Thursday that classroom learning will proceed Monday for elementary school children but will be suspended indefinitely for older kids, sources said.

Critics have howled that the Department of Education was not prepared to revive city school buildings amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Teachers have questioned testing protocols and protective gear provisions while union officials have stressed acute staffing shortages.

A total of 58 percent of city parents had opted for a blended learning model that would have them alternate between classroom and home learning.

MORE-UFT Response to the Mayor’s Announcement of a Delayed Start – Again

by morecaucusnyc

While MORE supports the idea of a responsible, phased-in, equitable reopening plan with a remote start to the year, the Mayor’s latest announcement is not it.  And while UFT leadership takes credit for this short delay, we know that this wouldn’t have happened without MORE and rank-and-file UFT members in the streets this entire past week independent of UFT leadership. We also know that unfortunately, this is yet another superficial, top-down fix that does little to make the Mayor’s plan safer or more equitable. 

As educators, we know that children and families need stability and clear communication from the Department of Education. The announcement today continues to erode trust that educators and families have in the Department of Education to keep our school communities safe. 

This 7-9 day delay will just cause more chaos and stress for working families and school staff without addressing the many underlying problems with the Mayor’s reopening plan. D75 schools have been reporting unsafe working and learning conditions all week, yet they are slated to reopen as planned on the 21st without any additional resources or support for busing, safety, or instruction. Other grade levels are delayed by just 7-9 days, without any indication that the numerous safety concerns raised by parents and staff around COVID testing, ventilation, lunch, or PPE supplies will be addressed in that time, nor that the city will address major issues with remote learning. And although we welcome the idea of hiring more staff, at best, this seems like a temporary solution since the staff being hired are not certified pedagogues and it's not clear that the funding for these staff exists or is permanent.

Unless this short delay is used to ensure mandatory testing for all students and building workers, ensure that all buildings are upgraded with the necessary safety measures and have enough staff, ensure that every building has a social worker, counselor, and nurse, ensure staff teaching remotely can work from home, and ensure that all children have WiFi and working devices, it will be a waste of energy and impose needless stress on families. 

We urge the city and the UFT to end this roller coaster and announce full remote school at least until January.

As part of this, the city must expand REC centers so that every family who needs childcare can have it five days a week(instead of just one or two) and so that our students with disabilities can have in-person services if they choose to. Mayor de Blasio has stated there will only be 30,000 childcare spots in its Learning Bridges Program which will be fully rolled out by December: this is unacceptable in a city with 1.1 million students. This is particularly essential for our housing insecure students who may not have access to WiFi where they are living. As part of remote learning, the city should also provide support for every school to use outdoor space and other spaces to supplement remote learning with opportunities for socialization. The time we gain from a remote start should be used to plan a community-driven phased-in reopening that follows the science and prioritizes the students that need the most support-- including students with IEPs, ELLs, and our youngest learners. It should also be used to expand testing capacity across the city so that we can mandate testing for 100% of students and staff, upgrade all school buildings and get feedback from stakeholders on an ultimate equitable, phased-in plan. 

The Mayor has ignored and gaslit stakeholders for months and now we’re seeing the results: a chaotic unsafe reopening that doesn’t serve the needs of students or families.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

P.S. 139 Closes For 24 Hours While Two Cases of COVID-19 Are Investigated

 

   Parents and children of P.S. 139 protest the opening of schools 
                          REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

I guess alot can be done to investigate all the facts in the two cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours.

Not enough.

Betsy Combier
betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog

DITMAS PARK PUBLIC SCHOOL SHUTS DOWN AFTER TWO STAFFERS TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
By , Sept. 15, 2020

Another New York City public school will be temporarily shut down to COVID-19 — just a day before remote learning is scheduled to begin.

P.S. 139 in Ditmas Park will be closed for 24 hours starting on Sept. 16 while the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the city’s Test and Trace Corp investigate two potentially unrelated cases of the virus.

On Tuesday, the school’s principal called the city’s “Situation Room” to report a potentially COVID-19 positive staffer. Department of Education officials confirmed the case and are preparing to notify the school community in writing. 

A staffer self-reported testing positive for COVID-19 to the Department of Education on Friday, Sept. 11, department officials confirmed.

Schools will be shut down if more than one staffer not connected by classroom or cohort tests positive for the virus within a seven day period, DOE policy dictates.

The school will be updated on the status of the cases and the schools closure by 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to DOE spokesperson Miranda Barbot. 

On Monday, a number of parents protested outside P.S. 139 against the proposed reopening of the school during the ongoing pandemic. While remote learning begins on Sept. 16, public schools will reopen their doors to students on Sept. 21, with a “blended model” of in-classroom instruction and remote learning taking place during the school year.

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.

NYC Department of Education Changes Remote Learning Guidelines

The NYC Department of Education is in chaos.

If any of my 4 children were in any DOE school right now, I would not send them.


                                 Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams

OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC ADVOCATE

FOR THE CITY OF NEW YORK

JUMAANE  D. WILLIAMS

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 16, 2020

Contact: press@advocate.nyc.gov

 

 

PUBLIC ADVOCATE RESPONDS TO LAST-MINUTE SHIFTS IN REMOTE LEARNING

 

NEW YORK: Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams released the following statement after it was announced, only hours before remote learning was set to begin, that students opting for a blended learning model would not necessarily receive synchronous live instruction while learning remotely. In-person learning is still set to resume on September 21 amid concerns from students, parents, teachers, and administrators, and as the City Council considers a resolution which calls on the Department of Education to delay the reopening of public schools until each school meets the safety standards children and school staff require.

 

"If the city had acknowledged the scientific and logistical realities months or even weeks ago, our schools would be in a better, safer, and more stable place, equipped to implement the best possible remote learning environment for the majority of students. Instead, the Administration has once again made an eleventh-hour reversal, with no excuse and no notice. It's broken a pledge that was likely a factor for many families in selecting the blended learning program. This last-minute brinkmanship is destructive to administrators trying to manage their schools and teachers trying to best execute their curriculum and teach their classes, impossible for parents and traumatizing for students struggling to keep up. It is unsustainable and unacceptable.

 

"Two weeks ago the Mayor relented and delayed the start of blended learning. At the time I feared that we were poised to make the same logistical failures and logical fallacies, only at a new date, and those fears are being realized. The Administration is exacerbating the crisis and the need to delay schooling outright with a stubborn insistence on reopening buildings, even as there are alternative plans that meet both educational and childcare needs. Now, with confirmed cases among staff in more than 50 schools across the city and just five days until students are set to physically return to schools, the Mayor must again postpone in-person education, to admit sunk costs and prevent potential human costs."



NYC schools no longer required to offer daily live, online teaching for some remote learning students: officials

By MICHAEL ELSEN-ROONEY
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
SEP 16, 2020

City schools will no longer be required to offer live online classes to hundreds of thousands of students who have opted for partial remote learning, according to new guidance issued Tuesday night by the Education Department.

The abrupt reversal, which was first reported by 
NY1, comes just hours before NYC schools were set to welcome students Wednesday for online orientations.

The shift means that the roughly 600,000 kids currently scheduled to switch between in-person and remote learning may not get live, or “synchronous,” instruction like Zoom lessons on days they’re home. The remaining 400,000 students signed up for strictly remote learning will still be guaranteed live online teaching, according to the Education Department.

Education officials reversed course to help schools deal with massive staffing shortage problem that has risen from the city’s partial school reopening plan.

Schools should still offer the real-time daily online classes if they have the staff to do so, but now have the flexibility to gradually phase it in, officials said.

“As we continue to add staff to buildings that need it, synchronous learning for remote students in schools will increase in frequency and our goal is to do this as quickly as possible," said DOE spokeswoman Danielle Filson.

Officials promised Monday to find an additional 2,000 teachers from other parts of the Education Department but the city principals union said the real figure is closer to 10,000.

Some schools were forced to curtail their in-person offerings to comply with the mandate to offer live remote teaching every day because they didn’t have enough staff to cover both.

Edward Murrow High School in Brooklyn notified families Tuesday that students reporting to the school building wouldn’t actually be taking in-person classes — they would be doing all-remote coursework on their laptops under the supervision of adults because the school couldn’t make the staffing arrangements work.

Education Department officials say they hope the new guidance — which also encourages schools to combine courses from different subjects when possible and spread online classes across multiple schools in the same building — could give schools more flexibility to better staff their in-person and remote courses.


Most NYC public school students not guaranteed real-time remote learning
Selim Algar, NY POST, September 16, 2020 

An already chaotic start to the school year took another twist hours before 
classes began Wednesday when the city Department of Education announced that kids signed up for blended learning aren’t guaranteed real-time virtual learning.

After previously assuring parents that all of the city’s 1.1 million public school students would receive at least some live online instruction when the academic year began, the DOE backed off that promise late Tuesday in an internal guidance memo.

Now, 58 percent of kids whose parents signed up for 
a blended learning schedule — alternating in-person classes with online courses — won’t be guaranteed that those virtual sessions take place in real-time.

That is, they may find themselves watching pre-recorded videos of lessons in which the teacher isn’t actually online at the time, depriving them of a chance to ask for help during class if they don’t understand the material.

Only 42 percent of 
students so far signed up to receive remote learning five days a week will be guaranteed, real-time classes.

With school populations split up to enable social distancing 
amid the coronavirus pandemic, classes have multiplied, creating a severe staffing crunch.

Many parents complained about the lack of live instruction during the last academic year, with some reporting that teachers went weeks at a time without directly communicating with their students.

The city principals’ union said that the move vindicates the 
alarms they’ve been sounding for months.

“The DOE’s last-minute announcement that live instruction is no longer required during remote days for blended learners is obviously an attempt to deal with the staffing crisis that CSA has been warning the DOE about for months,” wrote Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro in a Wednesday letter.

The union has said that 10,000 teachers would be needed to fully staff classes — while City Hall has thus far provided only 2,000.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza defended the 11th-hour decision on Wednesday while admitting that there’s a level of improvisation to a school year unlike any other.

“We’ve said repeatedly it won’t be a perfect start and we’ll be making a lot of adjustments in the weeks after we begin,” said de Blasio during his daily press briefing.

Despite the switch being announced on the eve of the school year, Carranza insisted the DOE was being as forthright as possible.

“There are constant variables at play here and what we’ve chosen to do is be honest and transparent with the public in saying to folks our goal has always been synchronous instruction every single day,” he said.

“We’re being honest. Nobody is hiding anything here,” continued Carranza. “You’re almost darned if you do and darned if you don’t.”

Additional reporting by Aaron Feis
Jumaane Williams’ plan for reopening schools would keep kids home until October
Julia Marsh and Selim Algar, NY POST, July 27, 2020

New York City’s Public Advocate is proposing a radical new plan for reopening schools this fall, in which students would stay home until at least October and classroom instruction would be phased in by age group.

The plan released Monday by Jumaane Williams would begin with all kids learning remotely in September before allowing students under 10 — who are reportedly less likely to spread the virus — to begin classroom instruction in October.

Williams, who consulted health experts, wants to then assess the safety situation at the end of the fall semester before allowing older kids back into their buildings.

Mayor de Blasio had previously proposed a blended learning plan that would have all students alternate between remote and classroom instruction beginning September 10.

While the mayor acknowledged growing push back to his plan, he said his format remains unchanged for the moment.

“Right now our intention is to open on schedule and to open with all grade levels but again with blended learning,” he said Monday.

Hizzoner has cautioned that pandemic variables will make it impossible to render a final call until the days leading up to the new year.

“It would be irresponsible to make a decision in July or August for something that’s going to happen in September,” he said.

But, as of now, parents should “very clearly” expect an on-time resumption of classroom learning, he said.

Both the city teacher and 
principals unions have voiced discontent with the Department of Education’s preparation and safety precautions.

In addition, several individual schools – including high profile campuses 
like Stuyvesant High School and New Explorations in Science, Technology, and Math – have pushed to adopt full remote learning formats instead of the blended approach.

De Blasio repeated his position that 75 percent of surveyed city parents – including those facing looming work conflicts – want school to start in September.

Interpretations of that Department of Education poll have varied, with United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew arguing that the number is actually 25 percent.

Many schools also face the specter of mass teacher absences at the beginning of the year.

At Stuyvesant, 
80 percent of staffers told administrators that they plan to apply for medical exemptions.

The DOE is allowing individual families to opt-out of on-site learning next year in favor of total remote learning.