On top of all that, kids are ignoring or not doing the work and their teachers:
NYC teachers say DOE’s remote learning interaction stats are nonsense
What about students who live in apartments/houses/shelters without wifi? Where are they getting their daily classroom work?
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Nearly 178,000 New York City public school students will undergo remote learning this summer, after the traditional school year was thrown into chaos by the coronavirus pandemic.
The city estimates 67,000 students in third through eighth grade and 83,000 students in grades nine through 12 will require additional instruction to account for lost time amid difficulties with online learning. Roughly 27,700 students with disabilities whose individualized education plans require year-round schooling will also need summer learning.
"It's going to be a huge effort, an unprecedented effort and the goal is simple and we believe we can attain the goal, we'll give every child what they need," Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference Tuesday.
Teachers will look at individual students' progress throughout the last part of the school year to determine whether they have met grade level standards, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said. Students have been out of physical classrooms since mid-March. Roughly 300,000 of the city's 1.1 million students did not have sufficient access to computer technology when remote learning began — a gap that is still being bridged by the city's Department of Education. As of this week, the city has delivered 284,000 devices to students who needed them and 5,000 more are on the way.
Students will also have check-ins with guidance counselors this summer. The city plans to incorporate social-emotional learning activities and virtual field trips.
The schedule for students in grades 9-12 will be five days a week for six weeks. Students will have up to five hours of instruction daily in subjects for which they received a "Course in Progress" designation or if they failed in a prior semester. They will also have one-on-one check-ins and enrichment activities.
For students in grades three through eight, summer learning will take place four days a week for a total of six weeks, either on a required or recommended basis.
Students with disabilities with 12-month IEP plans will receive instruction and related services five days a week for six weeks. Those students will receive daily instruction and related services aligned to their IEPs.
Carranza said students who are recommended for non-promotion at the end of the term, as well as high school students who received an "In Progress" classification, will be required to take summer classes online, for example. Applications for teachers to teach over the summer will open this week, he said.
"The people who know their students best are parents, teachers and principals so the recommendations as to who is required to attend summer learning and who is recommended is going to be that individual analysis that teachers — in communication with parents — are having in terms of their child's academic progress," he said.
The city is weighing options like alternating days for students to attend school and keeping online learning completely in the event that it is not safe to reopen schools in September.
By and , New York Times, April 16, 2020
Parents and educators have embarked on a desperate scramble to avoid dire academic outcomes for some of the city’s most vulnerable students.
Matthew, who has learning disabilities, is in a special public school program for students with advanced needs. Ms. Bermudez has had to improvise, and Matthew now uses empty pill bottles and bags of beans during mobility exercises. On a recent weekday, she spent hours helping Matthew position his hand correctly so that he could grasp a pencil.
“I didn’t learn how to do that. I’m an accountant,” said Ms. Bermudez, a single mother who lives in Arverne, a Queens neighborhood on the Rockaway Peninsula. “We were barely getting there,” she said of Matthew’s progress in school, “and now it’s like, oop, we’re backward.”
The sudden switch to remote learning for the 1.1 million public school students in New York City has presented the nation’s largest school system with its greatest challenge in decades.
There is also a crisis within the crisis.
The city is home to roughly 200,000 public school students with disabilities. Now, the already-strained special education system must transform how they are educated, which includes crucial services — like speech, occupational and physical therapy — that are extremely difficult and in some cases impossible to translate online.
The city has already encountered some stark realities about remote special education in the first weeks of distance learning.
Interviews with about two dozen educators and parents showed wide agreement that, even if remote learning were executed perfectly, students with special needs would fall behind academically and socially.
The question is how much students will lose, and what can be done to prevent them from losing their grasp on essential skills that many other families take for granted.
“This is hard for everyone,” said Christina Foti, the special education chief at the city’s Department of Education. “This is incredibly hard for every parent, for every student. It’s unmeasurable how hard this is.”
Parents have been forced to assume the roles of part-time special-service providers; students for whom routine and social interaction are essential have been left confused and isolated; and teachers have had to scramble to create new ways of helping their neediest students.
But Ms. Foti said she was proud that New York was providing its special education services online, even as some other districts around the country said they could not do the same.
"It is our utter obligation to ensure that kids make as much progress as possible during this time,” she said.
But that progress could be tenuous.
The city and state Education Departments have given New York City schools permission to cut down on some special services and to delay special education services for children who need them for the first time.
And though Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has encouraged districts to keep up their online instruction, she is weighing whether to ask Congress for the authority to waive parts of federal education law requiring school districts to provide special education services, which could lead to huge disruptions in online instruction.
For now, the push to prevent dire outcomes for some of the city’s most vulnerable children is playing out in living rooms across the five boroughs.
As parents like Ms. Bermudez do their best, educators on the other side of the screen try to fill in the gaps.
Leslie Hack, a special education teacher in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx, said she knew that it was next to impossible for many parents to keep a calm home while acting like teachers.
In the classroom, Ms. Hack said, “we are like the kids’ second moms, the tough parent who is teaching them to be independent.” When the space between home and the classroom collapses, it can be hard to challenge students, she added. “That’s why they need to be in school.”
Ms. Hack uses symbols and simple words to instruct her students. She said that one of her nonverbal pupils has been showing her mother the symbol of a school bus and then grabbing her backpack each morning of remote learning.
“She’s saying, ‘What the heck is happening, I’m up and you’re not getting me ready for school,’” Ms. Hack said.
Teachers and service providers across the city described a mad dash to find ways of reaching students who need the most help.
Mary Girimonte, who has a class of eight students on the autism spectrum at her school in Bushwick, Brooklyn, said her biggest struggle during the normal school year was getting her class to focus and make eye contact. In school, she often uses a rock wall or a balance beam to help her students calm down, but is now stuck trying to soothe them through video chats.
“If they are left alone, they will resort into their own world,” she said, adding that she worries when she sees a student posting work late at night.
“My morale is down,” Ms. Girimonte said. “I thrive from being in the classroom with them.”
Debra Fisher, an occupational therapist at a school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, said she was in the most creative and difficult moment of her career.
“It’s an opportunity that I hope never happens again,” she said.
Ms. Fisher, who holds seven or eight therapy sessions a day for students, is constantly brainstorming ways to use household items for activities. On a recent day, she asked students to assemble a pile of cotton swabs, count them, color them with markers and sort them. She said the exercise helped students with hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, following directions and stamina.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Saturday that city schools would be closed through June. Some students who have special education plans attend school year-round. Although it is unclear whether those students will be able to return to school in the summer, that is not even an option for young students who have not yet had their disabilities identified.
Young children develop so quickly that this period could significantly disrupt their long-term progress. Getting services when they are toddlers can be the difference between needing special education services when they get to kindergarten and being able to do without, experts say.
Emily Paddon, a teacher at the Kennedy Children’s Center in the Bronx, said that even after her students miss school for vacation, they require more prompting when transitioning between activities. They also might have trouble with things they knew the week before, like matching shapes or colors.
So, Ms. Paddon has been posting videos of herself reading books for her students, all of whom have disabilities and are between 3 and 5 years old.
She also video chats with them once or twice a week, during which she tries to recreate circle time as best she can. From her family’s home in Bergen County, N.J., she has replicated and adapted the visual aids she uses at school. There is the usual grinning smiley face and teary sad face, but instead of pictures that read, “Who came to school?” they ask, “Who is saying hi?”
For parents of young children with disabilities, this moment is especially nerve-racking. Esther Wolf’s 2-year-old daughter has global developmental delays and receives services to help her master everyday skills.
Now those services have moved onto the family iPad; her daughter sometimes tries to high five or fist bump her therapists through the screen. And instead of taking her to a sensory gym a few times a week, Ms. Wolf tries to get her daughter to step up and down on plastic storage bins, or crawl on a couch cushion to work on her balance.
Ms. Wolf is guided by therapists through video calls, and she said some sessions had been very successful. During others, her child has thrown books at her face.
“I’ve seen a lot of things circulating trying to comfort parents, saying things like, ‘You know, this isn’t going to make or break their future these next few months” Ms. Wolf said. “I totally agree with all of that, but it’s different when you’re thinking about special-needs kids.
“My daughter has worked so long and so hard for every single skill she’s learned,” she added, her voice breaking. “And three months could be the difference between her building on new skills and continuing to progress in her development, or spending all of next year trying to regain something that we lost.”
Ms. Wolf’s daughter receives services through a program called Early Intervention, which is managed by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Children can participate in it until they are 3.
Lidiya Lednyak, the assistant commissioner of early intervention at the Department of Health, said that while teletherapy had not been used much to serve young children in New York City, it could be as effective as seeing a therapist in person.
“The research is there,” Ms. Lednyak said. “But now we have to shift the way we’re thinking about this, and that’s hard when everybody is super anxious about what’s going on.”
Those anxieties can include seemingly simple obstacles like technology.
Many city families do not have internet access or laptops, and La Keesha Taylor, a single mother of two school-age children who lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, said she was making do with a tablet until the Department of Education finally lent her a laptop.
She has been using video chat on her cellphone to help her younger son, Ethan, who has special needs, see his physical therapist. During one session, she was juggling the phone in one hand while trying to keep her son’s heels down as he was bridging his back.
“My heart is breaking,” Ms. Taylor said. “I can just see he’s not fully getting what he needs.”
Still, parents said that being caretakers for children with disabilities had required them to tackle challenges they never expected to encounter. This moment is no exception.
“There’s days where I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ I just want to crumple up and cry,” said Manisha Shah-Balangon, who lives in Rego Park, Queens, and has a child on the autism spectrum.
“So I just say, ‘Suck it up and keep moving,’” she said. “You just have to.”