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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Mayor Reopens Elementary Schools on December 7, 2020, and Phases Out Hybrid Learning

Credit...Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

Suddenly, schools - some schools - will reopen on December 7, 2020:

Students in 3-K, Pre-K, and grades K through 5 will return to in-person learning beginning on Monday, December 7

o   This includes all students in 3-K and pre-K programs and elementary grades K through 5, across school types (e.g., in K-2 schools, K-3 schools, K-5 schools, as well as District Pre-K Centers,  K-8 schools, and K-12 schools).  
o   This excludes schools currently located in State-designated Red and Orange Zones. You can see if your school is in a Red or Orange Zone at http://nyc.gov/covidzone.
 
·         Students in all grade levels in District 75 schools will return to in-person learning beginning on Thursday, December 10
o   This excludes schools currently located in State-designated Red or Orange Zones. 
 
·         Students in grades 6 through 12 (outside of District 75 schools) will continue to learn remotely until further notice.
 
·         These return dates apply to all students in blended learning, including those who selected blended learning during the recent opt-in period. Students who selected remote-only instruction will remain in remote only.

See the NYC DOE website below for more.

Betsy Combier

Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials   


New York City Will Reopen Elementary Schools and Phase Out Hybrid Learning
NY TIMES, November 29, 2020


Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an abrupt shift in managing schools during the pandemic. Officials had faced criticism that they prioritized activities like indoor dining over the well-being of children.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday that he would reopen public elementary schools, abruptly shifting policy in the face of widespread criticism that officials were placing more of a priority on economic activities like indoor dining than the well-being of New York City’s children.

Mr. de Blasio said that middle and high schools would remain closed, but he also signaled that he would overhaul how the city manages schools during the pandemic, which has forced millions of children in the United States out of schools and is widely perceived to have done significant damage to their education and mental health.

The mayor said the city would abandon a 3 percent test positivity threshold that it had adopted for closing the school system, the largest in the country, with 1.1 million children. And he said the system would aim to give most parents the option of sending their children to school five days a week, which would effectively end the so-called hybrid learning system.

Students can return only if they have already signed up for in-person learning, meaning fewer than 335,000 of the city’s schoolchildren, or roughly a third, are even eligible.

Children in pre-K and elementary school can return starting Dec. 7. Mr. de Blasio also announced that students with the most complex disabilities can return on Dec. 10.

“Whatever happens ahead, we want this to be the plan going forward,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “We know what we didn’t know over the summer, we know what works from actual experience.”

Starting in the summer, Mr. de Blasio sought to make New York the first big city in the country to fully reopen its public school system. After a series of logistical and political problems forced the mayor to twice delay the start of in-person classes, the city welcomed hundreds of thousands of children back into classrooms about two months ago.

Reopening, despite its many issues, was seen as a major milestone in the city’s long path to recovery. But less than eight weeks after school buildings reopened, Mr. de Blasio on Nov. 18 again shut schools down as a second wave of the outbreak threatened the city.

Still, the number of cases in the school system itself remained very low, so Mr. de Blasio’s decision became a flashpoint in a broader debate throughout the country and the world over what should be closed during the pandemic. Officials have wrestled with whether to keep classrooms open while forcing restaurants and bars, which are far more likely to spread the virus, to shut their doors.

Mr. de Blasio does not directly control regulations regarding indoor dining, gyms, and other facilities — those are the purview of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Mr. de Blasio’s announcement on Sunday reflects a stark departure from the city’s original approach to managing the schools during the outbreak.

The new blueprint represents the city’s second shot at reopening, after the first attempt was plagued by problems and his threshold to close schools was roundly criticized by parents, politicians, and public health experts.

Instead of using a specific metric to close schools, the city will now closely monitor the number of classrooms and schools that close because of multiple confirmed virus cases.

And the mayor had long insisted that the entire public school system should reopen and that every student, from kindergarten through 12th grade, should have the option of learning in person.

Now, the nation’s largest public school district will operate more like other systems across the country that have reopened, by offering classroom instruction only to young children and students with disabilities.

Since Mr. de Blasio first announced his plan to reopen schools in July, mounting evidence has shown that elementary schools, in particular, can be relatively safe, as long as schools follow strict safety protocols.

New York’s schools had extremely low test positivity rates during the roughly eight weeks they were open this fall, and there was wide agreement from everyone from the president of the teachers’ union to the mayor’s top public health officials that schools were safer than they had anticipated.

When school buildings reopen, the city will significantly increase its random testing in schools: rather than testing a sampling of students and staff in each school building once a month, the city will conduct tests weekly. Students will not be allowed to attend school in person unless they have signed consent forms from their parents, allowing them to be tested.

Nothing else about New York City’s safety plan will change: all staff members and students will still be required to wear masks throughout the day, and social distancing will be mandated. But the city will largely shed its hybrid learning plan, under which children physically attended school a few days a week and learned remotely the rest of the time.

The hybrid learning plan was undercut from the start by a series of rules about who could teach and when which had been agreed upon by the teachers’ union and City Hall. 

Teachers could not be required to teach both in-person and online on the same day and were discouraged from live-streaming lessons in the classroom to children at home, even though other school districts and private schools have adopted that practice. 

Many principals and teachers said the rules were nearly impossible to follow, and some schools disregarded them. Some large high schools urged students to stay remote full time, so that schools could more easily offer electives and advanced courses. As a result, in-person high school enrollment has been relatively low. 

Parents said that children were delighted to be back in classrooms, even just once or twice a week, but that the quality of education provided under the hybrid plan was sometimes lacking. 

Now, hybrid is on its way out in New York City.

That’s partially because students chose in-person learning at far lower rates than Mr. de Blasio had hoped and expected. After predicting over the summer that about 75 percent of the school system would return for classroom instruction come fall, the city recently revealed that just under a third of students actually chose in-person learning.

The percentage of students who can return to classrooms in the coming days will certainly be lower than that, since middle and high school students who opted for in-person classes no longer have that option.

City data has shown that white families, who make up just 15 percent of the public school system, have chosen all-remote learning at the lowest rates.

That means that white students may have a disproportionate presence in city classrooms once they are reopened, and can attend school full time, while hundreds of thousands of children of color may be learning from home until next fall.

The mayor said earlier this fall that families would not have an opportunity to switch from remote to in-person classes for the rest of the school year, so the number of children who return to classrooms next month could be mostly set.

The city’s principals will be forced to once again entirely reprogram their schools, but the new plan will eliminate the need for constant coordination between students learning at home part-time and those learning remotely full time, which was extraordinarily complex and frustrating for educators and parents.

Remote learning has been particularly disastrous for the roughly 24,000 children in New York’s District 75, a set of schools for children with disabilities who require the most intensive support, which includes students on the autism spectrum and children with serious cognitive delays.

Online learning simply was not an option, and their parents have spent months asking the city to get their children back into classrooms as often as possible.

Still, there are about 176,000 other children with disabilities in city public schools, including many middle and high schools. It is unclear how many of those students will be able to return to classrooms.


Eliza Shapiro is a reporter covering New York City education. She joined The Times in 2018 and grew up in New York, attending public and private schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn. @elizashapiro



Schools During Coronavirus ›

Back to School

Updated Nov. 27, 2020

The latest on how the pandemic is reshaping education.


We are sharing the attached letter and consent form which discusses the school building re-opening schedule and required consent for mandatory in-school testing. Translations of the family letter will be available as soon as possible at schools.nyc.gov/messagesforfamilies

Students in 3-K, Pre-K, and grades K through 5 will return to in-person learning beginning on Monday, December 7

o   This includes all students in 3-K and pre-K programs and elementary grades K through 5, across school types (e.g., in K-2 schools, K-3 schools, K-5 schools, as well as District Pre-K Centers,  K-8 schools, and K-12 schools).  
o   This excludes schools currently located in State-designated Red and Orange Zones. You can see if your school is in a Red or Orange Zone at http://nyc.gov/covidzone.
 
·         Students in all grade levels in District 75 schools will return to in-person learning beginning on Thursday, December 10
o   This excludes schools currently located in State-designated Red or Orange Zones. 
 
·         Students in grades 6 through 12 (outside of District 75 schools) will continue to learn remotely until further notice.
 
·         These return dates apply to all students in blended learning, including those who selected blended learning during the recent opt-in period. Students who selected remote-only instruction will remain in remote only.

 Students and staff who have recently traveled outside of New York to a place on the State’s travel advisory list must quarantine for 14 days or test out of the 14-day quarantine based on the State’s guidance, which can be found here. Staff and students should continue to complete the health questionnaire daily.
 
As always, our first commitment is to health and safety for all of our DOE community, above and beyond everything else. Your tireless efforts have made it possible for our schools to re-open for in-person learning.
 
Here is how we collectively can help keep them open:
·         Mandatory Weekly Testing: To ensure schools remain a safe and healthy place to learn, all schools will have 20% of students and staff tested on a weekly basis.  
 
·         Student Consent: All students are required to provide consent for testing by December 7 or by their first scheduled in-person learning day. If a student arrives on their first day of in-person without a consent form in hand or submitted online, you must call their parent or guardian that day to collect consent immediately. Guidance to enter consent in ATS will be provided in Tuesday’s Principals Digest.
o   Families can submit consent using NYCSA or this updated consent form (also attached to this email)Please note that even if parents previously provided consent, we are asking them to submit again to ensure they have the updated consent form for their child that reflects the requirement for weekly testing in your school. Note that the consent form was updated on Wednesday, October 14 to reflect this change.
o   Students who need a medical exemption (available for all students) or disability-based exemption (available for students with IEPs) will be able to submit separate forms for approval. Principals will receive more information this week for distribution to families by Monday.
o   Students without consent and who do not have a medical exemption or disability-based exemption will be moved to fully remote instruction.





Saturday, November 28, 2020

Mayor de Blasio Says He Plans To Reopen Schools This Week

 

Chancellor Carranza (left) and Mayor de Blasio (right)

Great news! The second school reopening plan will be sent out this week, the first week of December 2020.

Before you rejoice too much, consider the fact that your definition of a "plan" may be different than that of either Chancellor Richard Carranza or Mayor Bill de Blasio.

I'm just suggesting that we look at the history behind the "planning" of the Carranza-de Blasio" regime. It seems, in our opinion, to be lacking some necessary elements, such as expert input, careful and thorough data collection, and timely production.

Here is a definition of the word "Plan":

Definition of plan

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a drawing or diagram drawn on a plane: such as
aa top or horizontal view of an object
ba large-scale map of a small area
2aa method for achieving an end
ban often customary method of doing somethingPROCEDURE
ca detailed formulation of a program of action
dGOALAIM
3an orderly arrangement of parts of an overall design or objective
4a detailed program (as for payment or the provision of some service)pension plan

plan

 verb
plannedplanning

Definition of plan (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1to arrange the parts of DESIGNplan a new layout
2to devise or project the realization or achievement ofplanned their escape
3to have in mindINTENDplans to leave soon

intransitive verb

1to make plansplan ahead
2to have a specified intention used with onplans on going
Parents Protest
variants: or plano-

Definition of plan- (Entry 3 of 3)

1flatplanography
2flat andplano-concave

Other Words from plan

Noun

planless \ ˈplan-​ləs  \ adjective
planlessly adverb
planlessness noun
The point is, the word "Plan" is thrown around a lot by the Carranza-de Blasio duo, and maybe they should define exactly what they mean. Or maybe not.

Their closing/opening of schools seems to be haphazard and not thought-out, and with so many lives impacted by these decisions, we think there is something wrong with the so-called "planning" supposedly going on by the City of New York.

Betsy Combier

Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials   


Mayor promises to provide second school reopening plan next week
Public school families should expect to receive details on the city’s second school reopening plan next week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.

Mayor de Blasio issued a systemwide shutdown of public schools for the second time this year after the city’s COVID-19 positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average hit 3 percent last week. The shutdown signaled the end of in-person classes for 300,000 of the city’s roughly 1.1 million public school students enrolled in blended learning.

Since the second shutdown, officials have said they are working on a plan to bring students back into the classroom. Students will most likely return to the school in phases with the city’s most severely handicapped students, also referred to as District 75 students, come back first followed by the city’s youngest learnings and then elementary, middle and high school students.

“We will find a way back through this pandemic because we proved we can keep our schools safe but we are going to have to come back a different way given some of the challenges we’re facing with this second wave bearing down on us,” de Blasio said.

City Hall reported on Wednesday 1,445 new cases of the virus within the last day and a COVID-19 positivity rate of 2.74 percent and a city positivity rate based on a seven-day rolling average of 3.05 percent. In addition, the mayor said 141 New York City residents were admitted to hospitals with suspected COVID-19 with 45 percent testing positive for the virus.

Mayor de Blasio has repeatedly emphasized that COVID testing will play a more critical role in the city’s second en masse school reopening plan and that students interested in taking in-person classes will need to have a signed COVID-19 testing parental consent form on file before being allowed to return to school buildings.

In a letter shared with public school families on Tuesday, City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza told parents that the deadline to submit a consent form will be the first day their student is scheduled to return to school for in-person classes.

“The increasing levels of COVID-19 infections overall in the city are very concerning, and we must strengthen precautions further for our school communities,” the letter reads. “Therefore, no student will be permitted to return to the building without a signed consent form for in-school testing. Your consent must be submitted by the first day your child resumes in-person learning.”

The city plans to increase how frequently students and staffers are tested for the virus at schools once they reopen but has yet to decide on exactly how often or what percentage of school communities will be tested. Before the shutdown, about 20 percent of all students and staff were tested for COVID-19 every month. The new testing policy will most likely be influenced by state COVID-19 zone designations, each of which has its own testing requirements for schools offering in-person learning.

Mayor de Blasio has warned on multiple occasions that city COVID-19 data projects the state will likely declare most of the city an “orange zone” by the first week of December. In an “orange zone,” services at houses of worship are restricted to 33 percent capacity; gatherings are capped at 10 people; and schools must be closed for four consecutive days. If a school wishes to reopen, all adults and children must show a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to re-enter the building and 25 percent of all students and staff must then be tested weekly for the virus.

On Wednesday, de Blasio added that city officials will focus on figuring out testing protocols first for District 75 students and early childhood students followed by elementary school students.

When asked by reporters why he had not figured out a school reopening plan ahead of COVID infections reaching the city-set threshold of 3 percent, de Blasio admitted that in hindsight his administration could have done more to prepare.

“In retrospect, clearly it would have been better,” he said.” But the important point is getting to the 3 percent meant something. It meant there was a problem. It meant we were dealing with a second wave bearing down on us.”

This story originally appeared on amny.com.