On March 15, 2020, the New York City Department of Education made the difficult decision of closing down the school district due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Known as the largest school district in the nation with 1.1 million students, New York City public schools have been formulating a plan of action for the last five months to ensure that buildings can reopen in a manner that is as safe as possible for each student, staff member and family come September.

According to the NYC Department of Education’s website, schools are planning to adopt a blended learning model, which consists of classes taught in-person for part of the week and classes taught online for the remainder of the week. Families can also choose for their child to be fully remote for any reason.

New health protocols and strict physical distancing will also be enforced when schools reopen in September. In coordination with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC public schools announced that COVID-19 testing and tracing protocols will be enforced at each school to prevent the spread of the virus.

Additionally, in accordance with current CDC guidelines, all students and staff members will be required to wear face coverings while inside buildings, to keep appropriate distances in school rooms, which is currently at least six feet at all times, and to continually sanitize and wash their hands whenever possible. Each building will be deep cleaned each night, lunch will be held in classrooms with assigned seating, and each building will have a designated Isolation Room in the case that someone contracts the virus.

In addition to investing in a plethora of cleaning supplies, NYC public schools have also invested in new technology to provide students with a high-quality academic experience remotely. The school district has distributed over 300,000 iPads to students in need and have worked with teachers to refine their skills and train them for online instruction.

In order to achieve a successful academic year in spite of the unprecedented circumstances, NYC public schools have outlined guiding principles that reflect their goals and criteria to base future decisions upon. Below are the principles as outlined on the NYC Department of Education’s website:

  • Physical and mental health of their students, teachers, staff, and families;
    Greater equity among students with respect to the education they receive and the learning environment in which they receive it—whether virtual or in-person
  • Academic achievement for students through high-quality instruction, tailored enrichment, and culturally responsive educational practices that allow students to see themselves reflected in the materials and lessons of their education;
  • Social-emotional and trauma-informed support for all students;
  • Community and continuity all year among students, and between students and teachers/staff;
  • Priority support for students and families who have trouble accessing and engaging in remote learning;
  • Deeper empowerment of our families as essential partners in their children’s education
    Frequent, consistent, and transparent communication with families, schools, and partners;
  • Clear guidance for schools in balance with the necessary flexibility to meet the needs of their particular school community; and
  • Commitment to continuous improvement; flexibility in response to evolving public health, budgetary, and environmental conditions; and sustained fulfillment of the needs of students, families, and staff.

Read the entire reopening plan for NYC public schools submitted to the State Department of Health here.

Editor’s Note: All information in this blog is current as of September 2nd, 2020. We will continue to monitor and update schooling information as it becomes available from the DOE.