Important update on just-announced NYC school closings and other important developments

March 15, 2020

After several weeks of resistance, Mayor de Blasio just announced that starting tomorrow, Monday March 16, NYC public schools will be closed, and will remain closed until at least April 20, to stem the rapid spread of coronavirus.  For the next week, schools will be open only as a place for parents to pick up food if they need it for their families, and teachers will be trained in online learning starting Tuesday.

The following week, starting March 23, students will begin to engage in “remote learning”, and “Regional Enrichment centers” will be opened throughout the city to provide child care for first responders, health care and transit workers, and “our most vulnerable populations.”

Chancellor Carranza said that online devices will also be provided to the approximately 300,000 kids who don’t have them. A schedule of events is available on the DOE website here. The Chancellor strongly urged all parents to sign up for School Accounts to stay in the loop, if you haven’t already; instructions here.

  • The Mayor delayed this necessary decision for weeks, even after most public health experts, parents, teachers, union officials, and other elected leaders had begged him to close the schools, as nearly every other large district and more than 15 states have already done. More on about this in a blog post I wrote on Thursday. With more than half a million kids in overcrowded schools, and more than 325,000 in classes of 30 or more, it would be simply impossible to prevent the rapid spread of the virus among our children, teachers and other staff, which currently is our best chance to prevent our health care system from becoming quickly overwhelmed.
  • Yet I am also very skeptical as to the value of online learning even under the best of conditions; and there is growing consensus among independent researchers that it doesn’t work well, especially for kids who need help the most.  I and others also have many privacy concerns, some of which are outlined on our Parent Coalition for Student Privacy blog, where I also offer some alternative suggestions as to what might be better ways to keep your kids engaged, both physically and intellectually, during the weeks ahead.

When online instruction begins in NYC, I will be eager to hear from all of you, including parents, teachers and students, as to what your experiences are with whatever programs are adopted by the DOE.

  • Most importantly, it will be important for you to keep yourselves and your children safe by maintaining an acceptable “social distance” from others who may be unknowingly infected. I urge you to consult the most reliable information on how to do this best; for example, this site from the Harvard Medical School.

Though Mayor de Blasio has repeatedly claimed that asymptomatic individuals, including children, do not spread the disease, this is contrary to several recent scientific studies that show otherwise. In any event, much of the city will be shutting down in the coming days, including the City Council budget hearings that were due to start next week.

I wanted to get this update to you quickly and will try to keep you informed as events unfold. Meanwhile, I hope that whatever situation you find yourselves in, at work and at home, that you and your family remain healthy in the days ahead.


Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
phone: 212-529-3539/917-435-9329

Categories Newsletters, Uncategorized, Updates | Tags: | Posted on March 15, 2020

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google Stumble Upon Digg Reddit

Comments are closed.