NEW YORK — The nation’s largest public school system is now closed amid the coronavirus outbreak and more than 1.1 million children will be impacted.
The announcement came Sunday afternoon, just before Mayor Bill de Blasio announced five coronavirus-related deaths in the city,
Here’s what parents and students need to know about the schools being shuttered:
When does the closure start?
The closure starts Monday, March 15. Students will not have remote lessons from their teachers until Monday, March 23.
What will teachers be doing from March 15 through March 23?
Everyone will stay home on Monday. On Tuesday, teachers will begin developing plans for remote learning. Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said that if there was any school system they could do it “on a moment’s notice,” it was New York City. The teachers will practice “social distancing” at schools on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday while learning what they need to know about remote lessons. On Friday additional lessons about remote education will be available online to those teachers who need it.
Some of that training will be in using Google classroom, officials said.
When will schools open back up?
The first attempt to open schools back up will be on Monday, April 20, after spring vacation. De Blasio said it was possible schools would not have the opportunity to re-open this school year.
“The notion of having a school year disrupted in this fashion, I have no words for how horrible it is,” he said.
What should parents be doing?
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza asked all parents to sign up for the New York City Schools Account.
“This is going to be critically important as we push information out, but also important for you to get resources to be able to support your students remote learning needs,” he said.
Right now, there are about 10 days’ worth of materials and assignments for students in grades K-12 on theNew York City Department of Education website.
What should students do if they don’t have access to computers or Wi-Fi?
New York City will work to supply technology to kids who need it. De Blasio noted the city would “supply as much as we can to help those kids.”
An estimated 300,000 students will need technological assistance.
“We believe we can actually get devices into the hands of our students who need them,” Carranza said. “We’re going to also prioritize our students living in temporary housing, our students that are living in poverty, and students that do not have access to those resources.”
The city is set to purchase 300,000 iPads from Apple.
What about food for students?
In New York City, 900,000 meals a day are served up at schools.
“We know that for many families, school is the only place to get meals for the day and that need continues even if a school closes,” an Education Department spokeswoman previously told PIX11. “If a school is closed for 24 hours we’re prepared to serve grab-and-go breakfast and lunch for any student who wants it.”
The week of Monday, March 15, there will be grab-and go meals at school buildings. They’ll be available at school start time. Students are not supposed to stay in the building or eat the food there. The city is working on other sites that will be able to get food to children beyond this week.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of work in the coming days to make sure food is readily available,” de Blasio said.
What about the children of health care workers, transit workers and first responders?
There will be a physical location for the children of crucial workers who cannot stay home with children. Teachers will be on hand at those locations. The centers will also be open “to serve our most vulnerable student populations,” Carranza said.
How will at-home lessons compare to lessons students would have received at schools?
“They will not, by any stretch, replace the full value of having our kids in school all day,” de Blasio said.
He did note that the lessons would improve each week as teachers get better at remote teaching.
“It has never been attempted by the city of New York on this scale, to say the least,” he said.
It will not be like regular school, Carranza said.
“What we want to be able to do is provide as much flexibility for our teachers and for our students to continue to be engaged intellectually over the course of however long this is going to last,” he said.
What concerns do city officials have about the shift to remote learning?
“I am tremendously concerned about what’s going to happen with young people out in our communities without enough positive options, particularly teenagers, but we cannot have large congregations of young people in small spaces,” de Blasio said.