New York City will reopen elementary schools and phase out blended learning

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that he will reopen public elementary schools, Change policy suddenly In the face of widespread criticism that officials are placing more priority on economic activities such as indoor dining than the well-being of New York City children.

Mr. de Blasio said that middle and high schools will remain closed, but also indicated that he will reform the way the city runs schools during the pandemic, which has forced millions of children in the United States to drop out of school and it is widely believed that they have done a lot of damage to their education and mental health.

City mayor said It would give up a test positive threshold of 3 percent It adopted to close the school system, the largest in the country, with 1.1 million children. He said the system aims to give most parents the option to send their children to school five days a week, which is what they do It will effectively end the so-called hybrid learning system.

the students It is only possible to return if they have already participated in personal learning, Which means that fewer than 335,000 schoolchildren in the city, or nearly a third, are eligible.

Children in kindergarten and elementary schools can return from December 7. Mr. de Blasio also announced that students with the most complex disabilities can return on December 10.

“Whatever happens in the future, we want this to be the plan to move forward,” said Mr. de Blasio at a press conference. “We know what we didn’t know during the summer, and we know what works from actual experience.”

Beginning in the summer, Mr. de Blasio sought to make New York the first major city in the country to fully reopen the public school system. After a series of forced logistical and political problems The mayor postpones the start of classes twiceIn the city, hundreds of thousands of children returned to the classroom about two months ago.

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The reopening, despite its many troubles, was seen as a major milestone on the city’s long road to recovery. But less than eight weeks after the school buildings reopened, Mr. de Blasio closed schools again on 18 November The second wave of the outbreak also threatened the city.

However, the number of cases in the school system itself remained extremely low, so it became Mr. de Blasio’s decision A bright spot in a wider debate Across the country and the world on what to lock down during a pandemic. Officials have grappled over whether to keep classrooms open as restaurants and bars, which are likely to spread the virus, are forced to close their doors.

Mr. de Blasio has no direct control over the regulations regarding indoor dining, gyms and other facilities – those of Governor Andrew M. Como.

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

The new scheme represents the city’s second chance to reopen, after the first attempt was plagued by problems and the threshold for closing schools was severely criticized by parents, politicians and public health experts.

Instead of using a specific metric for school closures, the city will now closely monitor the number of classrooms and schools closing due to the many confirmed virus cases.

The mayor has long insisted that the public school system be fully reopened, and that every student, from kindergarten through 12th grade, have the option to learn in person.

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

Test-positive rates in New York schools were extremely low during the eight weeks they opened this fall roughly, and there was broad agreement from everyone from the head of the teachers union to the mayor’s chief public health officials that schools were safer than they expected.

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When school buildings reopen, the city will dramatically increase its randomized testing in schools: Instead of testing a sample of students and staff in each school building once a month, the city will run weekly tests. Students will not be allowed to go to school in person unless they have signed consent forms from their parents, allowing them to take the exam.

Nothing else will change about the New York City safety plan: All staff and students will still be required to wear masks throughout the day, and social distancing will be mandated. But the city will largely abandon its co-educational plan, under which children are actually enrolled in school a few days a week and taught remotely the rest of the time.

The hybrid learning plan was undermined from the start by a series of rules about who can teach and when, which were agreed upon by the teachers union and city council.

Teachers could not be required to teach in person and online on the same day, and were frustrated by the live broadcast of lessons in the kids’ classroom at home, though School districts and other private schools have adopted this practice.

Many school principals and teachers said that following the rules was nearly impossible, and some schools ignored them. Some large high schools have urged students to stay away full-time, so that schools can offer electives and advanced courses more easily. As a result, personal enrollment in secondary school was relatively low.

Parents said that the children were happy to return to the classroom, even once or twice a week, but that the quality of education provided under the mixed plan was sometimes lacking.

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

This is partially Because students choose personalized learning at much lower rates Than what Mr. de Blasio had hoped and expected. After predicting over the summer that about 75 percent of the school system will return for classroom instruction in the fall, the city recently revealed that less than a third of students chose personalized learning.

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Certainly, the percentage of students who can return to classes in the coming days will be lower, because middle school and high school students who choose personal classes no longer have that option.

City data showed that white families, which make up only 15 percent of the public school system, have chosen distance learning at the lowest rates.

This means that white students may have a disproportionate presence in city classrooms once they reopen, and can go to school full-time, while hundreds of thousands of children of color may learn from home until next fall.

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

City administrators will be forced to completely reprogram their schools again, but the new plan will eliminate the need for constant coordination between students who learn at home part-time and those who learn full-time remotely, which is very complex and frustrating for teachers and parents.

Distance learning It was especially disastrous For nearly 24,000 children in the 75th District of New York, a group of schools for children with disabilities who need the most intensive support, which includes students on the autism spectrum and children with serious cognitive delays.

Online learning was not an option, and their parents had spent months asking the city to get their children back into the classroom as much as possible.

There are still about 176,000 other children with special needs in the city’s public schools, including many middle and high schools. It is unclear how many of these students will be able to return to the classroom.

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