Messages for Families

September 25, 2020: Take the Census

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As our buildings reopen and your child reconnects with their school community, we are reminded of how much it takes from all of us to operate the largest school system in the nation. Serving each of our 1.1 million students takes an immense amount of resources, and right now the federal government isn’t coming through with the funds that our city desperately needs.

You can make a huge difference by filling out the 2020 United States Census. While the Census deadline has been temporarily extended, I still encourage families to complete it today as the final deadline has yet to be determined. It’s a short online survey to count all New Yorkers, and it only happens once every ten years. Filling it out ensures our city gets the money, power, and respect we deserve from the federal government.

Without an accurate population count, our City will lose out on billions of dollars in federal funding for our schools, but also healthcare, roads, hospitals, public transportation, and more. New York could even lose two seats in Congress.

How to Fill Out the United States Census

  • Go online to my2020census.gov.
  • Filling it out takes five minutes or less.
  • The Census is available online in 15 languages.
  • In addition, you can complete your census over the phone by calling 844-330-2020.

The Census is Safe and Private

  • The Census counts all residents, regardless of citizenship or immigration status—therefore, the Census does not include a citizenship question.
  • Even if you are undocumented, filling out the Census will not put you or your family at risk.
  • Census responses are private, protected by federal law, kept strictly confidential, and can never be used against you by a court, government agency, law enforcement authorities, or third parties like a business or your landlord.

Too much is at stake for us to be undercounted, so please fill out the Census if you have not already done so, and encourage your friends and family members to do so as well! 

Making sure that all New Yorkers are counted is so important to guarantee a bright future for our city and our children

September 21, 2020: Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year

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Dear Families, 

It is my pleasure to welcome you and your children to the 2020–21 school year! We could not have achieved this milestone without every one of you. I am grateful for your support and your faith in our public schools. So many New Yorkers have worked around the clock to accomplish this shared goal: the safe return of our students, teachers, and school staff to classroom and remote learning.

There is no doubt this has been a challenging seven months, but we should feel proud of the outstanding job New Yorkers have done to fight COVID-19. Our actions have led to weeks of very low infection rates citywide. However, the virus is still active in our city, state, and country. We know that there will be cases of COVID-19 this fall. The good news is we are prepared to fight this virus while holding true to our mission—ensuring that all our students continue to learn and thrive.

To carry this out, we have put in place strict health and safety protocols and created a COVID-19 Response Situation Room for DOE principals, which serves as a “one-stop shop” for school leaders in handling all COVID-19 cases in schools. When principals learn of a potential COVID-19 case in their school, they call the Situation Room to report it, and medical, public health, and education staff are on hand and readily available to support principals through responding to it. Principals or their designees call the Situation Room, which helps to handle everything from there - including quickly communicating vital updates for principals to share with their school communities.

We are confident in our ability to provide your children with the healthy, safe, engaging, high-quality education you expect. We will continue to be transparent and keep you informed. In this Update for Families, I am happy to share the latest information on:

  • How to complete daily health screenings for your child, 
  • Where to get tested for COVID-19, 
  • How to stay informed on COVID-19 cases in your school community, and 
  • What transportation to and from school looks like 

In addition, to help you find key information I have shared in past updates, we have included quick links to DOE resources on: 

  • Health and safety measures in our schools, 
  • What teaching and learning looks like this year, and 
  • School schedules for elementary, middle, and high schools 

As always, all information regarding back to school can be found on our Return to School pages. If you have additional questions, please contact your principal. You can find information about your child’s school, including principal contact information, on our website using Find a School.

You have heard me say that September is my favorite month, and that is especially true this year. Return to School 2020 took a team effort, thousands of hours of work, and attention to countless details to get where we are today. I could not be prouder of our families, students, educators, and everyone who works in and for our schools.

As we start the new school year together, I can assure you that the largest school system in the nation is well prepared and up to the task. Please know that we are here for you. Your teachers and principals are here for you. And, together, we will achieve a remarkable year of learning. 

How to Complete Daily Health Screenings for Your Child

As always, the health and safety of our students, families, and school staff remain our top priority. We have spent months preparing for the safe reopening of our schools; we know they are like home for so many of us and provide the social-emotional support and learning our children need.

We all have a part to play in keeping our school communities safe. We are asking you to do your part by making sure your children have completed their health screenings (including temperature checks) before they enter school buildings. We encourage you to use our Online Health Screening Tool each day that your child is scheduled to attend in-person learning. 

  • When you do the screening at home, you or your child just need to provide the results of the screening either by showing the email on a smartphone or a printout of the results before entering the school building. All students will receive an oral thermometer in their first week of in-person instruction in case they need one to check their temperature.
  • If you or your child is not able to pre-screen using the online tool, you may use the Paper Health Screening Questionnaire and have your child bring the completed form to school and show it upon entry. Your school will provide you with printed copies so you can complete the questionnaire at home.
  • If you or your child forgets or is unable to pre-screen, someone will be available at your school's entrance to assist your child in completing the form and checking your child’s temperature.
  • In order to keep everyone healthy and slow the spread of COVID-19, students will not be able to attend in-person classes if they have:
    • Experienced any symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever of 100.0 degrees F or greater, a new cough, new loss of taste or smell, or shortness of breath within the past 10 days; 
    • Received a positive result from a COVID-19 test that tested saliva or used a nose or throat swab (not a blood test) in the past 10 days; 
    • Been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days; or 
    • Traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days.

As always, please keep your child home if they are sick.

Where to Get Tested for COVID-19

It’s up to all of us to keep our school communities and families safe by wearing face coverings, keeping our distance, washing hands frequently, and getting tested!

  • Help us keep our schools open and school communities healthy by getting tested for COVID-19. It’s safe, free, and easy for everyone, regardless of immigration or insurance status.
  • Students in 3K through twelfth grade can get priority testing at 22 Health + Hospitals testing sites throughout the school year.
  • Beginning in early October, we will begin testing a random sampling of students and staff in every school. This is essential to keeping your family and school community healthy and safe. We’ll be sharing much more information and a link to a parent/guardian consent form in our next family update. 

How to Stay Informed on Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Your School Community

It’s important that your school is able to reach you to share crucial information quickly, including alerts about confirmed COVID-19 cases in your child’s school. Please sign up for a NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) so we can contact you via phone, email, or text message.

  • With NYCSA, you can access your child’s grades, test scores, schedules, transportation information, and more—from anywhere, and in all nine standard DOE language translations.
  • In order to see your child’s records, request an Account Creation Code from your school. I encourage you to keep your contact information up to date, so your school can get in touch with you in the event of an emergency. 
    • If you don’t have an account, sign up today. It only takes five minutes! 

What Transportation to and from School Will Look Like

Whether traveling by bus, public transportation, or other means, students will be expected to wear masks and practice social distancing, just as they will in and around their school. Here are some details about different modes of transportation:

Busing

Following guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), buses transporting students will be limited to 25 percent of capacity to ensure safe social distancing. Seating on the bus will be clearly marked to guide students to where they can and cannot sit.

  • If students do not have a face covering, the bus operator will provide one. Drivers and attendants will also wear face coverings as well as gloves. Before sending children on a bus, family members should screen their children’s health at home, including temperature checks, to make certain they are well enough to board a bus and attend school. 
  • Buses will operate with the windows open whenever possible and with the air in the non-recirculating mode.
  • Upon arrival at a destination where passengers will be exiting the bus, students will be directed to exit one row at a time to maintain a safe social distance.
  • Each night, all school transportation vehicles will be cleaned and disinfected following CDC protocols.

Public Transportation and Other Alternatives

Schools will provide free MetroCards to students and families engaged in blended learning for travel to and from school.

  • When using public transportation, students will be expected to follow the same social distancing and face covering protocols as all New Yorkers.
  • The MTA has marked all stations with social distancing guidance and offers free masks at stations across the city. In addition, the NYPD conducts frequent sweeps of stations and subway cars to enforce distancing and mask wearing.

Where to Find Information

Health and Safety Measures in Schools

To learn more about ventilation and other building safety measures, outdoor learning, food services in schools, testing and tracing, and personal health measures all schools are taking to keep your children safe, visit schools.nyc.gov/RTShealthsafety

What Teaching and Learning Looks Like This Year

To learn more about blended learning supports, social-emotional learning and mental health, supports for multilingual/English language learners, students with disabilities, students in temporary housing and foster care, students who are 21 or older, and students in early childhood programs, visit schools.nyc.gov/RTSteachinglearning.

School Schedules for Elementary, Middle, and High Schools

To learn more about programming models, sibling schedules, and what happens when students come to school on the wrong day during blended learning, visit schools.nyc.gov/RTSschedules 

September 18, 2020: Update on Start of In-person Learning Dates

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Dear Families,

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I am writing to you today with an important update on the start of school.

As you know, for months we have been preparing to reopen our school buildings. Thanks to all of you and everything you have done over the last six months, the city’s low infection rate makes us the only major city in the country able to welcome our children back to our schools for in-person learning.

Just as you have done everything necessary to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate, we have made a pledge to you that we would put health and safety first. That is what we have done – inspecting tens of thousands of classrooms for proper ventilation; distributing millions of masks, bottles of hand sanitizers and cases of cleaning supplies; prioritizing students and staff for expedited COVID-19 testing; developing a swift testing, quarantine, and tracing protocol anytime we might see COVID-19 activity in our schools; and more.

We must continue living up to that pledge as we get closer to opening our buildings, knowing that this year demands more supplies, more staff, more space, more inspections, and more training. To do that, we have some new updates on the school calendar to announce.

All students will still begin full-time instruction on Monday, September 21. School buildings will reopen to our students in blended learning (in-person in schools some days of the week, and remotely from home other days of the week) on a phased basis, detailed below. Here is the updated calendar for the start of the 2020-21 school year:

  • Children enrolled in fully remote programs will still begin full-day instruction on Monday, September 21.
  • Children in blended learning (in-person in schools some days of the week, and remotely from home other days of the week) will be learning remotely beginning Monday, September 21 until their in-person start date as outlined below. Please reach out to your child’s school if you have questions about when your child should report according to their blended learning schedule.
Blended Learning Students Enrolled In: In-Person Learning Begins On:
Grades 3K and Pre-K (in any school type/grade configuration)Monday 9/21
District 75 (all grades)Monday 9/21
Elementary Schools (K-5 and K-8) (includes students in grades 6-8 in K-8 Schools) Tuesday 9/29
Middle Schools (Grades 6-8) 
High Schools (Grades 9-12) 
Secondary Schools (Grades 6-12) 
Transfer Schools, Adult Education, Evening Schools, Alternate Learning Centers
Thursday 10/1
K-2 and K-3 Schools Tuesday 9/29
K-12 Schools Tuesday 9/29

I know this is a last-minute change. This crisis has demanded so much flexibility and patience from you and your children since the beginning, and I am in awe of how you have risen to meet the challenges and uncertainty this pandemic has presented. Everything we do is to try to provide stability and certainty, while protecting the health and safety of our city.

I am deeply grateful every day for each of you, and the commitment you have shown to your children and this city.

So many of you have told us how eager you are to reconnect with your school communities – I know I am excited for that as well. We believe this extra time will help make sure that all schools and all educators are in the best position to deliver a strong, safe, and supportive environment for teaching and learning to take place.

I always say that New York City has the best students, staff, and families in the world, and nothing will ever change that—no matter when, where, and how we are learning.

Thank you for everything you do.

September 14, 2020:Update on Calendar, Ventilation Reports and Covid-19 Testing

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Dear Families,

Even in the face of so much change, September is still the most exciting time of year. There’s a back-to-school energy in the air as all over the city, educators, students, and families are getting ready for the school year to begin.

And all of us at the Department of Education have been busy too. In this Reopening Update for Families, I am happy to share important information on:

  • The 2020–21 School Calendar
  • Ensuring your school’s ventilation is in good working order 
  • How to get tested for COVID-19 before the school year begins 
  • How to stay informed on confirmed COVID-19 cases in your school community

As we prepare for the new school year, I want to reassure you that we are leaving no stone unturned to protect our students, educators, and families. That is why we are doubling down on all our health and safety protocols—from ventilation to face coverings, physical distancing, nightly cleaning, and frequent hand washing/sanitizing. It’s why we will make all information available to the public.

As always, all information regarding back to school can be found on our Return to School pages. If you have additional questions regarding the information in this letter, please contact your principal. You can find the page for your child’s school on our website using Find a School. Principal information is on each school’s web page in the “School Contacts and Information” section.

I also want to remind you about an important way you can help protect your school community regarding travel. Several states are still seeing high transmission rates of COVID-19 - you can find the list at ny.gov/traveladvisory. All New Yorkers are strongly advised to avoid travel to these states, but if you must travel to one of these areas, you will have to fill out the New York State Traveler Health Form and quarantine for 14 days when you return to New York City—it’s required by New York State. For more information on COVID-19 testing, tracing, and how to safely quarantine, visit testandtrace.nyc.

These next few days are about getting everything ready for the incredible school year that lies ahead. We look forward to welcoming your child back for partial-day instructional orientation starting September 16, and for full-day instruction for both blended learning and remote learning on September 21!

School Calendar

We recently announced that the school year will begin for students on Wednesday, September 16 with a part-time instructional orientation period. Full-time learning will begin on Monday, September 21. I am pleased today to share with you a calendar for the full 2020-21 school year.

There are some important differences for this school year that we want to highlight:

  • September 16–18 will be remote partial instructional days for students focused on getting your child ready for learning this year. All students are expected to participate and engage. Your school will confirm your child’s exact schedule and provide log-in instruction forthese three days.
  • September 21 is the first full-time day of teaching and learning for students in both fully remote and blended learning (in which they are learning in school buildings for part of the week, and remotely for the rest of the week). 
  • November 3, Election Day, will be a fully remote learning day for all students. In past years, students did not attend school on Election Day. 
  • On “snow days” - or days in which school buildings are closed due to an emergency - all students and families should plan on participating in remote learning.

Please reach out to your school with any questions you may have about the school calendar for this year.

Ventilation Inspections

Ensuring proper ventilation is an important part of our health and safety protocols. Proper ventilation can reduce the level of viruses, including COVID-19, inside buildings. According to our City and federal public health experts, a room is safe when air is able to flow in and out - whether through an open window or mechanical means, such as HVAC systems or air handlers. I am pleased to report that we have completed ventilation inspections in every New York City public school building.

Here are our findings:

  • Of over 64,000 classrooms inspected, 96 percent have been confirmed to have ventilation that meets City health and safety standards. 
  • Where a ventilation issue was identified, the DOE is swiftly implementing repairs. Many issues have already been addressed and fixed. 
  • Per federal guidance, we are also inspecting and ensuring proper ventilation in restrooms, kitchens, and other areas used by students and staff.
  • Any rooms with ventilation issues that haven’t been repaired before the first full-time day of teaching and learning on September 21 will not be used by staff or students. 

How to Get Tested for COVID-19 Before the School Year Begins

It’s up to all of us to keep our school communities and families safe by wearing face coverings, keeping our distance, washing hands frequently, and getting tested! Help us keep our schools open and school communities healthy by getting tested for COVID-19 before buildings reopen for learning. It’s safe, free, and easy for everyone, regardless of immigration or insurance status.

How to Stay Informed on Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Your School Community

It’s important that your school can reach you to share crucial information quickly, including alerts about confirmed COVID-19 cases in your child’s school. Please sign up for a NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) so we can contact you via phone, email, or text message. With NYCSA, you can access your child’s grades, test scores, schedules, transportation information, and more—from anywhere, and in all nine standard DOE language translations. In order to see your child’s records, request an Account Creation Code from your school. I encourage you to keep your contact information up to date, so your school can get in touch with you in the event of an emergency.

  • If you don’t have an account, sign up today. It only takes five minutes!

September 4, 2020: Reopening Update for Families

Dear Families,

As we approach the start of the school year, everyone at the New York City Department of Education is laser-focused on delivering a high-quality education that puts your child’s health, safety, and emotional well being first this fall. An education that creates a new standard of excellence for learning from any location. An education that will prepare your children to thrive—today, tomorrow, next year, and for the rest of their lives.

I want to share with you that full-day learning for all students will begin on Monday, September 21. A few days before that, beginning on Wednesday, September 16 through Friday, September 18, all students and teachers will engage remotely for a partial-day instructional transition and orientation to help students reconnect to school. Taking this time will help ensure all children are ready to learn and succeed.

In this letter, we include updates on what that teaching and learning will look like. You will find additional information on how our schools will support every student every day—whether they are participating in fully remote or blended learning (in which they are learning in school buildings for part of the week, and remotely for the rest of the week).

Read the Return to School Update for Families on the Welcome to the 2020-201 School Year page to find more information on:

  • How your child will learn at home: Live interaction and lessons with teachers, and projects that students complete on their own 
  • Who will be teaching your child in blended or fully remote learning 
  • How to stay informed on confirmed COVID-19 cases in your school community 

If you have questions regarding the information in this letter, please contact your principal. You can find the page for your child’s school on our website using Find a School. Principal information is on each school’s web page in the “School Contacts and Information” section.

You have heard me say that New York City has the best, strongest, most committed students, staff, and families anywhere. Every day, you continue to prove that true beyond any shadow of a doubt. I want to reaffirm our pledge to take absolutely every precaution to keep your children healthy and safe. And to ensure they receive the high-quality education they deserve no matter how or where they are learning.

I am so excited to welcome all our children and educators back to their school communities soon!

How Will My Child Learn at Home?

Whether learning remotely from home part of the week or every day, students will receive remote instruction in two different ways: live interaction (sometimes referred to as “synchronous instruction”) with teachers, and independent learning (sometimes referred to as “asynchronous instruction”), which includes assignments, projects, or recorded video lessons. Let us explain what that means:

Live interaction means that your student will interact with their teacher on video, phone, live chat, virtual app, or another digital mode in real time. The teacher may be interacting with the whole class, small groups, or individual students. It can be done over Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or other DOE-approved video or phone conferencing or digital platforms. It includes:

  • Class Lessons; 
  • Office Hours to connecting in real time with teachers to get individual or small group help with instruction or instructional activities; 
  • Social-emotional wellness activities such as sharing circles or mindfulness exercises; or 
  • Feedback discussions with students and families about their work and progress via video or phone. 
  • Other “live participation” activities, such as chat, offered by the digital platform used by educators during lessons. 

At the beginning of the school year, here are the target amounts we are asking all schools to engage their students in live interaction and instruction each day:

  • Students in 3-K and Pre-K programs: up to 30 minutes 
  • Students in kindergarten through grade 2: 65 to 95 minutes 
  • Students in grades 3–5: 90 to 110 minutes 
  • Middle school students in grades 6–8: 80 to 100 minutes 
  • High school students in grades 9–12: 100 to 120 minutes 

The amount of time devoted to live instruction will increase each month for all grades as the school year progresses to allow students and teachers to gradually transition. Scheduled times will be posted so that students and staff alike can plan for engagement.

Independent learning means your student will work on their own with assignments, projects, and materials provided by their teachers. This might include:

  • Video lessons or presentations recorded previously 
  • Activities, assignments or tasks that build on lessons from previous days 
  • Collaborative projects and assignments with classmates 
  • Discussion boards and conversation, feedback, or guidance from teachers over email

Who Will Be Teaching My Child?

Your child will have a high-quality educator leading their education, no matter where they’re learning. Instruction may look a little bit different in every school, reflecting the specific needs of the school community, but here is what you can generally expect:

For Students in Blended Learning

Blended learning refers to a combination of on-site, in-person instruction at the school some days of the week, and remote instruction at home on remaining days.

Your child may have different teachers for on-site and remote learning. Those teachers will work closely together in pairs or teams to create meaningful and connected learning experiences. For example, a student may begin a project in person and then continue to work on it while remote.

During the remote portion of blended learning, your child will regularly be with the same group of students with whom they attend in person.

For Students in Full-Time Remote Learning

Where possible, students engaging in full-time remote learning will be taught by teachers from their own school. Teachers will regularly meet with the same group of students on specific days. 

How to Stay Informed on Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Your School Community

It’s important that your school can reach you to share crucial information quickly, including alerts about confirmed COVID-19 cases in your child’s school. Please sign up for a NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) so we can contact you via phone, email, or text message. With NYCSA, you can access your child’s grades, test scores, schedules, transportation information, and more—from anywhere, and in all nine standard DOE language translations.

If you don’t have an account, sign up today . It only takes five minutes! 

August 17, 2020: Updates for Families

Dear Families,

In good times and in challenging times, I know that you want the best for your children. You want them to be safe, healthy, and happy. And you want them to always be learning, growing, and getting ready to take on the world. Our schools play such an important role in that, especially now, when the children of our city have been through so much.

For us, health and safety always lead the way. Our vision for the fall is a safe, strong, and supportive learning environment and an excellent education for every one of our students. Schools will be in session and students will be learning five days per week—no matter where they are.

We know a lot more now about how the learning experience is going to work. In this week’s Reopening Update for Families, you will find:

  • The latest health and safety information, including on ventilation, school nurses, and testing and tracing in schools 
  • How to stay informed on confirmed COVID-19 cases in your school community 
  • How families can change their children’s learning preference to/from fully remote learning 
  • What happens if students attend school in-person on a day they are not scheduled to attend
  • Supports for students with Individualized Education Programs 
  • Supports for students in temporary housing and foster care 

We know that planning for the new school year isn’t easy—for you, for our educators, for school staff, and for our communities. But I believe that by working together we can start the school year strong. I want to acknowledge the tireless work of your principals and school leaders, who have been hustling all summer to be ready for the first day of school.

I also want to thank you. Your partnership has made it possible for us to consider and plan for both in-person and remote learning. Your continued investment and engagement in your school communities is a vital part of ensuring our students’ success not just during this upcoming school year but for years to come. We are privileged to serve you and your children, the young people who not long from now will be the ones leading our city.

If you have questions regarding the information in this letter, please contact your principal. You can find principal contact information by searching for your child’s school on Find a School. Principal information is on each school’s web page in the “School Contacts and Information” section. And as always, all information regarding back to school can be found at schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020.

The Latest Health and Safety Information

For school buildings to open in September and remain open, the city must see fewer than 3 percent of all COVID-19 tests come back positive on a weekly average. Since June, the city positive test rate has been between 1 and 2 percent. We have strict protocols for testing, tracing, and quarantining if there is a confirmed case in school, and we will use every effort to prevent the spread of infection in schools if a student or staff member is feeling sick or has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Many families have questions about ventilation. Our commitment is simple: if a room does not have adequate ventilation, it will not be used by students or staff. We are assessing and performing maintenance in buildings to maximize ventilation with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible. We expect maintenance to be completed by the opening of school.

Finally, this fall, every school building in New York City and all early childhood programs across the city will have access to nurses. Through a partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals, in addition to our established nursing workforce, every student will have access to a qualified nurse every day as we reopen schools safely and continue to stop the spread of COVID-19. Nurses will be in-place by the first day of school.

How to Stay Informed on Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Your School Community

When the school year begins, we want to make sure we can contact you quickly and effectively to share information, including about confirmed COVID-19 cases in your child’s school. Please sign up for a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA) so we can contact you via phone, email, or text message.

Your NYCSA account can also help you find your child’s grades, test scores, schedules, transportation information, and more— from anywhere, and in all nine standard DOE language translations. I encourage you to keep your contact information up to date, so we can get in touch with you in the event of an emergency. If you don’t have an account, sign up today at schools.nyc.gov/nycsa. It only takes five minutes!

How to Change a Child’s Learning Preference to/from Fully Remote Learning

Your school principals, in partnership with district and central administrators, are continuing to develop school-level plans for every public school in New York City. We are currently planning for around three-quarters of our students (over 700,000 students) to begin the school year in a blended learning mode. This means that they’ll learn in-person in a school building part of the school week and continue learning remotely from home for the rest of the week. The remaining families in our DOE community will begin the year in fully remote learning mode.

You can move your child into 100 percent remote learning at any time using the Learning Preference online form. Families who choose 100 percent remote learning can opt back into blended learning on a quarterly basis, beginning in November.

What Happens if Students Attend School In-Person on a Day They are Not Scheduled to Attend

Schools will work closely with families to clearly communicate which days their child will attend school in-person. The DOE encourages you to make alternate childcare arrangements and to build a plan to help ensure that your child does not arrive at school on unscheduled days. If a student arrives at school on days when they are scheduled for remote learning, your child’s school will inform you. All children attending on an unscheduled day will need to be picked up or will be sent home, depending on age and other factors. For more information on policies for students who attend school on a mistaken day, visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 .

Supports for Students with Individualized Education Programs

The DOE will provide students with disabilities access to in-person instruction during blended learning. If your child's IEP recommends related services, you will soon receive a survey where you will be asked to express your preference for in-person or remote therapy. Upon school opening, your child's school will contact you to discuss your child's specific schedule and make every effort to align your request to available services. The DOE will release additional guidance and information for families of students with disabilities shortly.

Supports for Students in Temporary Housing and Foster Care

Students in temporary housing and foster care face unique challenges as a result of COVID-19, including the shift to remote learning. We have been providing additional supports to these students, including ensuring their early receipt of remote learning devices. Any remote learning devices given to students in shelter have cellular capabilities. As possible and appropriate, students in temporary housing and foster care may also receive additional in-person instruction, depending on a school’s programming model, overall student needs, and capacity.

August 6, 2020: Update for Families on Instruction

Dear Families,

The educators and staff at your child’s school, and all of us at the DOE, continue to work around the clock to prepare for a safe and healthy return to school in September. An important part of our planning depends on you! Today I am writing with additional information and an important reminder as we head into September.

All schools are currently preparing for a blended learning model. Blended learning means that students learn part of the time in-person in school buildings, and continue their learning remotely, from home, on the remaining weekdays. Any family can also choose all-remote learning this fall, for any reason. If all-remote learning is your preference, we ask to hear from you by filling out a short web form (link below), or by calling 311, by this Friday, August 7. If you begin in blended learning, you can decide later to transition to all-remote, but to best support schools in their planning for reopening, we ask that those who have a preference for 100% remote notify us by this Friday, August 7.

Fill out a short form now if you would like to continue all-remote learning this fall.

As you consider which learning model is best for your child, I want to restate our guiding principles that apply to every student’s education: All students will be learning five days a week, and teachers will continue to deliver high-quality instruction that is culturally responsive, rigorous and developmentally appropriate for all students, in all learning settings.

We are sharing additional information below about both blended and all-remote instruction to empower you to make this choice. This builds on the information contained in the letter sent to families in late July comparing remote and blended learning, which you can find below. 

Types of Teaching and Learning

Whether your child is participating in blended learning or learning 100 percent remotely, they will receive instruction by 1) interacting live with their teachers and 2) by independently completing assignments and projects throughout the school day and week.

Teachers

Students engaged in remote learning will, for the most part, be taught by teachers from their school community. While there may be limited exceptions on a school-by-school basis, parents can expect their children to be assigned teachers from their school community when they receive their children’s full schedules before the school year begins.

Live Interaction 

Teachers will provide daily live instruction for our fully remote learners, as well as for those students participating in the blended learning model. Teachers will deliver live instruction in short intervals (15–20 consecutive minutes) throughout the school day for our youngest learners and may increase in length based on the student’s developmental stage and grade level. We will share additional information on live instruction in the coming weeks.

Posting Schedules

Schools will post class schedules and schedules for live instruction for all students—those fully remote as well as those participating in blended learning—online. You will have access to these schedules in advance so you can plan your work and family commitments. Schools will also ensure students have sufficient time for high-quality interactions with their teachers and classmates.

Direct Support

Teachers will have dedicated time every school day to engage with students and families via video conference or telephone. We encourage you to take advantage of this time to get guidance and updates related to your child’s progress and learning.

Lunch in the Classroom

In-person student lunch will be instructional time in most instances, modeled on our Breakfast in the Classroom program. In elementary schools, for example, during lunch, students will take part in learning activities that are fun, engaging, and enriching, such as interactive read-alouds, social-emotional learning, and content through music. In middle and high schools, during lunch, students will engage with a specific content area. Schools will maintain all health and safety guidelines for in-person learning and for consuming food and drink during this time.

Community Building

All students will have routines that build community, center the day, and set them up for success. This will provide all students with community- and relationship-building experiences that are an integral part of a typical school community. For example, this may consist of a daily morning meeting where the teacher engages students in activities related to social-emotional wellness and community-building, or a daily closing activity where the teacher recaps the learning for the day, and gets students prepared for the following day. Schools and teachers will share more about this as we approach the first day of school. 

Social-Emotional Support

We know that current circumstances in the pandemic have been very difficult for you and your children. Students have been isolated from their teachers, classmates, and school communities. For this reason, we will allow time for teachers, school-based staff, and students to readjust to being in school buildings and to adapt to changes. In addition, we will integrate social-emotional activities and trauma-informed care into academic subjects to the greatest extent possible throughout the day. We will also prioritize mental health supports throughout the school year.

Grading

All students must meet the same academic requirements, whether they are engaged in fully remote or blended learning. The teacher overseeing your child’s classwork is responsible for designing or selecting assessments to measure student progress. These may include projects, exams administered within or outside the online platform, portfolios, and other measures of student mastery.

There is no doubt that we have all learned a lot since March—both about the virus, and about our ability to keep learning going during this unprecedented time. That is why we won’t settle for anything but the most rigorous and engaging instructional experience for your child, in whatever learning model you choose. Your needs—along with those of your children and the staff who serve them—continue to be at the center of our back-to-school planning.

We will send more information in the coming days and weeks. As always, we encourage you to check schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 for the latest information on what the next year will bring.

Thank you for being part of the DOE family. 

August 3, 2020: Update for Families on Health and Safety Protocols

For printable translations of this letter, visit the InfoHub

Dear Families,

I hope you are safe and healthy, and finding some rest and relaxation this summer. As we are approaching the start of the 2020-21 school year, I want to share some important new information with you about health and safety protocols in your child’s school—and every school—for the upcoming year.

All schools are preparing for blended learning, during which students learn in-person in school buildings for part of the week, and continue learning remotely from home on the other days. However, any family can choose 100% remote learning for any reason. If your preference is 100% remote learning, we ask that you let us know by this Friday, August 7, so that schools have enough time to plan. Please visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 to fill out a short web form, or call 311.

In this letter you will find:

  • Criteria to Open Schools and Keep them Open 
  • What Happens if Someone Gets Sick: New Information on COVID-19 Testing and Tracing in Schools 
  • Overall Health and Safety Protocols for Every School  

Criteria to Open Schools and Keep them Open

While we continue to carefully monitor a constantly changing health landscape, one thing remains steadfast: our commitment to the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff. This priority is the foundation of all of our policy moving into September.

On July 31, the Mayor and I announced that for school buildings to open in September and remain open, on a weekly average the city must see fewer than 3% of all COVID-19 tests come back positive. Additionally, if 3% or more of New Yorkers who are tested for COVID-19 are found to have the virus after we open, school buildings will close again, and 100% of learning will be remote for every student.

Since June, we’ve hovered around 1-2%, and are working closely with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health), NYC Test + Trace, and the Mayor’s Office to prepare for a coordinated school reopening. If staff and students aren’t healthy, they can’t teach and learn, and we are doing all we can to ensure that schools remain safe and healthy for learning.

What Happens if Someone Gets Sick: New Information on COVID-19 Testing and Tracing in Schools 

In close collaboration with our expert colleagues at NYC Health, we have developed strict protocols that address prevention, precaution, and response to one or more of our students or employees having a confirmed case of COVID-19. It’s important to know that a “confirmed case” means that a parent or guardian, student, or staff member submits a positive test result from a healthcare provider or laboratory—like a City-run testing site, a private doctor, or an urgent care center—to the school.

Our protocols to keep school communities healthy include:

  • Prevention: Starting with the first day of the 2020-21 school year, if a student or staff member is feeling sick, they are required to stay home. Additionally, if their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, they will be asked to get tested.
  • Feeling Sick in School: If a student begins experiencing symptoms in school, they will be isolated and monitored by a school staff member until they are picked up by their parent or guardian. Staff members who become symptomatic at school must notify administration and immediately leave the building.
  • Testing: All school staff members are asked to get tested for COVID-19 in the days leading up to the beginning of school, and will be prioritized for expedited results at the 34 City-run testing sites. All school staff are also asked to get tested monthly during the school year. This free testing is also available for families citywide.
  • Tracing: In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case in a school, NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health will investigate to determine close contacts within the school. All students and teachers in the classroom with the confirmed case are assumed close contacts and will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure to that case. In older grades where students may travel between classes, this applies to all classes that the confirmed case was in.

If there's more than one case in a school, and it's not in the same classroom, learning will continue remotely and the school building will close for at least 24 hours while NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health investigate. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, affected classrooms or the whole building will remain closed for 14 days for quarantine.

Students will continue their learning remotely during any necessary quarantine periods.

  • Communication: Whether symptoms begin at home or in school, there will be a clear flow of information to facilitate fast action and prevent spread. If a COVID-19 case is confirmed, schools will communicate to all families and students at school.

Overall Health and Safety Protocols for Every School

Testing and tracing are part of several strict health protocols designed to keep our school communities healthy. Here are the key things that you and your family should know about NYC Department of Education (DOE) health and safety practices, policies, and protocols as we re-open our school buildings in September:

  • At all times, students and staff must wear face coverings protecting their nose and mouth while at school or on their way to school. Exceptions will be made for children who can’t wear a face covering for medical reasons, and for younger children who aren’t developmentally able to wear a face covering.
  • Students and staff must maintain six feet of physical distancing throughout the school day, anywhere on school grounds and to and from school. 
  • Schools will be cleaned throughout the day and disinfected each night, with special attention to high-touch areas. 
  • Face coverings, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies will be readily available in throughout every school. 
  • Every school will have a school-based team ready to respond in the event that there is a health concern in a school. 
  • Every school will have a designated isolation room for use in the event that a student becomes ill during the school day.

For more details on these and other policies, please visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 and click “Health and Safety” for additional information and all the latest updates.

We are approaching reopening by centering health and safety and basing our policies on the expertise of health professionals—period.

I’ve been a public school parent, teacher, and principal, and I know what it feels like to want the best possible education for your child while ensuring the health and safety of your entire family. We have collectively learned a lot since March—both about the virus, and about our ability to react and respond to it in real time. That’s why we won’t settle for anything but the strictest and most rigorous processes for coming back to school.

We will send more information in the coming days and weeks. As always—thank you for being part of the DOE family. 

Past Letters

Sign Language Interpretation

Translations

  • You can find the translations of all Chancellor Carranza's Letters to Families on the InfoHub.
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