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Saturday, January 15, 2022

NYC Mayor Considers a Remote Option For Students and Code 65

Mayor Eric Adams at Concourse Village Elementary School in the Bronx on January 3, 2022

UPDATE: Mayor Adams will allow students to stay home and receive code "65" as a reason. Yes, folks, it is all about money. Schools need to get their budgeted amounts from "seat time", the number of seats filled during the school day, to justify state and federal funds coming into the school.

The following information is from the NY POST article:

"Students can still be marked present, for instance, if they log onto Google Classroom to view PowerPoint presentations, subject notes and assignments. They can also communicate with teachers via email.

“We’re giving students permission to stay home as long as they are showing some level of participation online,” a Queens teacher told The Post."


In an email to principals last week, First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg said schools “cannot be required” to give online instruction or office hours to students absent for “non-COVID reasons” or if a family is keeping a student home and is requesting assignments.

“However, if staff are willing and their supervisor approves,” they can do so “and be compensated accordingly,” Weisberg wrote.     

Schools can now mark students present using the reason code “65,” which can mean either present in-person — or absent from the classroom but learning remotely."

So, now some students who never wanted to learn in the classroom for any reason can get credited for staying home and simply logging in sometime during the school day. This leads to the question, when college applications and tests are given, what knowledge will the higher education institutions be looking for or given?

See my post in 2009:

Credit Recovery and Joel Klein's Direct Harm to Students

This past week the news is not good for NYC public school teachers and students.

Schools are open, but thousands are missing in action due to COVID, classes are empty, either without a certified teacher or without half of the regularly-scheduled students. (We are not saying that the numbers given by the NYC Department of Education on attendance are true, just that the overall consensus of parents and teachers who have been on social media is that these numbers are in the ballpark of true). Students walked out in protest.

However, it is clear from the news and testimonials from teachers, parents and students who could not get an appropriate education under the remote learning model when NYC schools were closed, that city-wide closures are not the answer. We are in favor of school choice, and a child going into private, charter or religious schools should be available to everyone.

What is the "right answer"?

There is none.

For example. we have been doing special education advocacy - Impartial Hearings and IEP reviews - for about 22 years, and if you look at this one category of students, remote options do not work in general. 

The best solution is to seek a high standard of learning for each child, and offer all options with oversight and accountability.

Coronavirus Hub

UFT Remote Instruction Memorandum of Agreement

UFT-DOE Agreement of Social-Emotional Screening

In-School Testing: Step By Step

Labor Policy Guidance: DOE-UFT Digital Classroom Agreement 

Mayor Adams, do not close all schools, but allow students who can and want temporary remote learning to get this option, but only AFTER you have assessed the online teachers and curriculum used, and found the correct mix of resources to support the choice.

Betsy Combier

NYC Education Department Quietly Opens Door For Teachers To Allow More Remote Learning

Sophia Chang, The Gothamist, January 14, 2022

The New York City Department of Education has updated its attendance policy to give educators discretion on allowing students to learn remotely during the current COVID surge, and to count those students as present for attendance purposes — a possible sign of movement towards a remote option for all students.

The policy update appeared online Friday afternoon without any formal announcement, a day after Mayor Eric Adams acknowledged the school system is considering a remote option. The change follows growing protest over his refusal to entertain the notion and a sharp decline in student attendance since COVID cases surged over the winter holidays.

Attendance was 77.09% across the system Thursday, meaning more than 214,800 students out of the system's 938,000 students missed class. In pre-pandemic times, attendance averaged 91% across the system for the 2019 school year.

The DOE previously spelled out specific circumstances wherein it would allow remote learning: a full classroom or school closure, a positive test result, Election Day and snow days.

Now, the updated policy says “staff may provide asynchronous remote instruction and Office Hours … to students who are absent for reasons other than those stated above…” based on staff willingness and the approval of their supervisors. These students may also be counted as remotely present for class for attendance purposes.

The policy, which reflects language in a memo sent to principals this week by First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg, does not specify what other reasons will qualify students for remote learning, including whether they are staying home out of caution during the recent COVID surge. But it could pave the way for educators to allow more students to learn remotely — and to not penalize those who choose to learn at home by counting them absent.

The DOE did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday evening.

Schools Chancellor David Banks has appeared to support a remote learning system involving livestreaming from classes, though the city’s agreement with the United Federation of Teachers union prohibits that arrangement because of logistical and instructional difficulties.

Chalkbeat reported that, during a meeting with parent leaders this week, Banks mused, “‘Can we turn that agreement around and just do a livestream and let kids just participate in the class?’”

The UFT also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After days of pressure from a vocal contingent of educators and students, Adams abruptly pivoted this week on the question of remote learning as a temporary option during the COVID surge. He has long insisted that in-person learning was crucial for students, citing the many children who rely on social services and food provided by schools, as well as the families who count on open school buildings for stability.

But on Thursday, the mayor said he was in talks with the UFT to figure out a temporary solution.

“We do have to be honest that there's a substantial number of children for whatever reason, parents are not bringing them to school," Adams said. "I have to make sure children are educated."

Sophia Chang, Reporter
Sophia Chang is a reporter on the NYC Accountability desk covering government policy, social structures and other issues that enable and complicate city life.


From: First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg <>
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2022 8:52 PM
Subject: Updated DOE/UFT Pivot to Remote MOA - Providing Instruction to Students Who Are Absent Due to COVID


Dear Principals,  


I’m writing to provide some clarification around how to address teaching staff who provide asynchronous instruction and office hours to students who are absent due to COVID.  


The definition of a "partial closure" as outlined in the Memorandum of Agreement with UFT (MOA) regarding emergency closures has been updated to reflect new Situation Room procedures for reporting positive COVID-19 cases. Effective immediately, any student that has a positive COVID-19 test (at-home, rapid, PCR test, etc.) is entitled to asynchronous instruction and access to Office Hours as outlined in the Pivot to Remote MOA and as outlined in the updated Field Guidance and Overview of the Agreement.  


Teachers providing asynchronous instruction and office hours to these students are entitled to compensation as per the pivot to remote MOA. A "partial closure" is now defined as when any part of a class is in isolation or is unable to attend in-person instruction due to a positive COVID-19 test as described above.   


Note that the scenarios listed below are not currently considered partial closures and teachers cannot be required to provide asynchronous instruction and Office Hours as set forth in the MOA:   

  • If a student fails the health screen and there is no COVID-19 test  
  • A student is absent for non-COVID reasons   
  • A family is keeping a student home and is requesting all assignments  


For these students, staff are expected to engage in normal past practices with respect to non-COVID student absences. However, if staff are willing and their supervisor approves, staff may provide Office Hours and asynchronous instruction to these students and shall be compensated accordingly.   

Please feel free to reach out to your Senior Field Counsel with any questions.  

Thank you again for your tireless service and leadership.  

Dan Weisberg 
First Deputy Chancellor