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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
Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog

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

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






September 16, 2020






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

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.

MORE Daily Bulletin #7, September 16, 2020


         UFT members protested outside MS 839 in Brooklyn on Monday

  • UFT members at PS 280 and PS 149 in Queens picketed before school. They plan to meet at PS 222 after school and are demanding proper safety procedures, ventilation, testing and tracing, and building cleanliness.
  • UFT members at PS 234 in Queens will picket during lunch after picketing this morning over an organizational chart that removed all ICT classes and forced teachers to teach remote and in-person classes simultaneously.
  • UFT members at MS 839K protested outside their school on Monday.
  • UFT members at PS 103M staged a walkout over safety.
  • UFT members at the High School of Economics and Finance worked outside Tuesday.
  • UFT members at Liberty High School for Newcomers are wearing red today.
  • UFT members at Claremont International High School, Bronx High School for Business and New Directions at the Taft campus in the Bronx are working outside today.
  • UFT members in District 14 are protesting outside the district Superintendent’s office today.
  • MORE-UFT members in District 15 will rally near the playground in Sunset Park today at 4:00 PM.
  • MORE-UFT members in lower Manhattan will rally in Union Square today at 4:00 PM.
  • MORE-UFT members at planning a Bronx rally at 1 Fordham Plaza for Friday at 3:30 PM.