New York City is reopening elementary schools and eliminating hybrid learning


Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday that he will reopen elementary schools and abruptly change politics in response to widespread criticism that officials are placing more emphasis on economic activities such as indoor catering than the well-being of children in New York City.

But Mr Blasio said high and secondary schools would remain closed, but also indicated that he would review how the city handles schools during the pandemic that forced millions of children in the United States to leave school and is widely perceived. that they have caused significant harm to their education and mental health.

According to the mayor, the city is rejecting the 3 percent test positivity threshold it has adopted to close the country’s largest school system with 1.1 million children. And he said the system aims to give most parents the opportunity to send their children to school five days a week, which would effectively eliminate the so-called hybrid learning system.

Students can only return if they have already registered for personal learning, which means that less than 335,000 of the city’s schoolchildren, or roughly a third, are eligible.

Pre-K and primary school children can return from December 7th. But Mr Blasio also announced that students with the most complex disabilities could return on 10 December.

“Whatever happens in advance, we want it to be the plan for the future,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “We know what we didn’t know over the summer, we know from actual experience what works.”

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

The reopening, despite many problems, was seen as an important milestone in the city’s long recovery journey. But less than eight weeks after the reopening of the school buildings, but Mr Blasio closed the schools again on 18 November as the second wave of the epidemic threatened the city.

Nevertheless, the number of cases in the school system itself remained very low, so Mr Blasio’s decision became the focal point of a wider debate across the country and around the world on the issues to be closed in a pandemic. Officials struggled to keep classrooms open while forcing restaurants and bars, which are much more likely to spread the virus, to close the doors.

Mr De Blasio does not directly control the regulations on indoor dining, gyms and other facilities – these are the responsibility of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

But Mr Blasio’s announcement on Sunday was clearly different from the city’s original approach to managing schools at the time of the epidemic.

The new plan marks the second shot at the city’s reopening, after the first attempt was plagued by problems and the threshold for school closures was criticized by parents, politicians and public health experts.

Instead of using a specific indicator to close schools, the city is now closely monitoring the number of classrooms and schools that are closing due to the many confirmed virus cases.

And the mayor has long insisted that the entire public school system be reopened and that all students from kindergarten to 12th grade have the opportunity to study in person.

Now the country’s largest public school district will perform better than the reopened system across the country by offering classroom instruction only to young children and students with disabilities.

New York schools had extremely low test positivity in the eight weeks or so they opened in the fall, and everyone from the teacher union president to the mayor’s top public health officials agreed that the schools were safer than expected.

When school buildings reopen, the city will significantly increase its random testing in schools: instead of testing a sample of students and staff in each school building once a month, the city will conduct tests on a weekly basis. Students can only visit school in person if they have signed their parents ’consent form, which allows them to be tested.

Nothing else will change in New York City’s security plan: all staff and students should wear masks throughout the day and social distance should be made mandatory. But the city is largely giving up its hybrid learning plan, whereby the children physically went to school a few days a week and learned from a distance.

From the outset, the hybrid learning plan has been underlined by a series of rules adopted by the teachers ’union and City Hall about who can teach and when.

Teachers should not be required to teach in person and online on the same day, and they were discouraged from classroom live broadcasts to children at home, even though other tank districts and private schools have adopted this practice.

Many principals and teachers said the rules were almost impossible to follow and some schools ignored them. Some large high schools have called on students to stay away full-time to make it easier for schools to offer electives and advanced courses. As a result, personal high school enrollment was relatively low.

Parents said the children are delighted to be able to return to the classroom once or twice a week, but the quality of education provided under the hybrid plan was sometimes lacking.

The hybrid is in New York.

This is partly because students chose personal learning at a much lower rate than Mr. de Blasio had hoped and expected. After predicting that about 75 percent of the school system would return to classroom education over the summer, the city recently found that barely a third of students chose personal learning.

The percentage of students returning to classrooms in the coming days will certainly be lower than this, as high school students and high school students who have chosen personal lessons no longer have that option.

Urban data show that white families, which make up only 15 percent of the public school system, chose distance learning at the lowest rate.

This means that a disproportionate number of white students may be present in urban classrooms after they reopen and attend full-time school, while hundreds of thousands of colorful children can learn from home until next fall.

Earlier in the fall, the mayor said that families would not have the opportunity to switch from a remote class to a personal class for the rest of the school year, so the number of children who would return to the classroom next month could be determined.

City principals will be forced to completely reprogram their school again, but the new plan eliminates the need for constant coordination between part-time home learners and distance full-time learners, which has been extremely complex and frustrating for educators and parents.

Distance learning has been particularly catastrophic for roughly 24,000 children in District 75 in New York, a group of schools for children with disabilities most in need of support, which includes students on the autism spectrum and children with severe cognitive delays.

Online learning was simply not an option and their parents had been asking the city for months to take their children back to the classroom as often as possible.

Nevertheless, there are about 176,000 children with disabilities in urban public schools, including many secondary and high schools. It is not clear how many of these students can return to the classroom.