NYC schools have ‘ability to shift to remote if we need to,’ DOE head says

Reopening Schools

NEW YORK — Students return en masse to New York City public school classrooms on Monday and, though the plan is to have them learn in person, the head of the Department of Education said that schools can still pivot to remote learning.

Over a million students will return to school: a massive shift from last year when many students stayed home and others participated in a hybrid learning approach, mixing remote and in-person learning. In-person learning last school year began with a staggered approach by grade.

“We have a multilayered health and safety approach in place which will mean fewer disruptions in students’ education,” a Department of Education spokesperson said as teachers and school staff prepared for this year. “Given these measures, we expect that interruptions will be limited but there may be times when quarantining is necessary due to exposure to COVID-19.”

Remote learning will be offered to New York City public school students only under very specific circumstances, including if a classroom shuts down, Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said.

“We learned a lot last year and so we still have the ability to shift to remote if we need to- a classroom or a school building,” she told Dan Mannarino on PIX on Politics.

The DOE broke down instruction plans for students in the event of any type of COVID-related closure dependent on vaccination status in the chart below:

Student Vax StatusQuarantine TypeInstruction Type
UnvaccinatedFull classroomSynchronous remote
UnvaccinatedPartial classroomAsynchronous remote
UnvaccinatedFull classroomSynchronous remote
VaccinatedPartial classAsynchronous remote

Entire schools will close only when it is determined by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that there is widespread transmission in the school.

Elementary Schools: In the event there is a positive case in a classroom, all students in the class will be instructed to quarantine for 10 calendar days. Students will continue to receive live remote instruction while they quarantine.

Middle and High Schools: In the event there is a positive case in a classroom, students who are:

  • At least 12 years old, vaccinated, and not showing symptoms will continue to attend school in-person. Out of an abundance of caution, these students are encouraged to take a COVID-19 test 3 to 5 days after exposure.
  • At least 12 years old, vaccinated, and showing symptoms will be directed to quarantine for 10 calendar days. These students will have access to remote learning while quarantining.
  • Unvaccinated will be directed to quarantine for 10 calendar days. These students will continue their learning remotely. On day 5 of their quarantine, students may take a COVID-19 test, and with a negative result, return to attending school in-person after day 7.

Immunocompromised students will get in-home instruction.

So far, 65 percent of students ages 12-17 are vaccinated, Ross Porter said. Over 72 percent of teachers have been vaccinated.

“Our numbers are moving in the right direction,” the schools chancellor said.

While in school, students will wear masks and be distanced. During lunch, some students will eat in cafeterias while others eat in classrooms or outside.

The DOE has been working to make sure there’s 3 feet of social distancing.

“Our facilities teams went to schools, looked at classrooms, developed a capacity for each and every room,” Ross Porter said.

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