Latest news on school reopening, DOE testing plan and blended learning class sizes

September 1, 2020


Today, the Mayor, the Chancellor and the unions – the UFT, CSA and DC37—announced a deal that would move back the first day of school to Wednesday, September 16. All students will begin remote instruction on that day. In-person learning will begin the week of Monday Sept. 21 for blended learning students who have opted in. Teachers will report to buildings on September 8, as originally scheduled, and will have six days to receive training, collaborate and prepare. (Here’s the link to the video if you want to watch the press conference – it starts about 25 minutes in.)   More details here.

Among the health and safety measures announced today is that between 10-20% of all students and staff will be tested every month at every school by mobile testing units– a huge undertaking. Along with the promise of centrally-provided PPE, mandatory mask wearing, social distancing and improved classroom ventilation, the testing protocol led UFT President Michael Mulgrew to describe NYC’s plan as providing “the most aggressive policies and greatest safeguards of any school system in the USA.” The state and city positivity rate last week has been hovering around 1% for weeks, among the lowest in the nation. Last week, according to the state, it was an extremely low 0.6% -0.7%.

One issue not addressed fully by the deal, however, is how students will be provided with adequate support, either remotely or in-person, given the current staffing freeze. Indeed, one of the DOE guidance documents released last week revealed that the online classes for students receiving blended learning will be allowed to double in size – meaning grow as large as 64-68 students per class. I was quoted in this NY Post article that allowing classes to be that big would be a recipe for disaster. If remote learning is to work at all, teachers need even smaller classes to keep students engaged, to give them sufficient feedback and forge strong connections. More on today’s deal and what it may mean for our schools on my blog here.

2. After a three week break, tomorrow Wed. I will resume hosting my “Talk out of School” radio show on WBAI, featuring two special guests: First I’ll ask Jamaal Bowman, former NYC principal, about his amazing primary win to represent NY16 in Westchester and the Bronx in Congress, how he did it and what he plans to do when he gets to DC. Then I’ll speak to Randi Levine, Policy Director of Advocates for Children, about her views of the school reopening plan, and whether she thinks it does enough for our most vulnerable students, including homeless kids and those with special needs.   Please join us tomorrow at 10 AM at WBAI-FM 99.5 or at The show will also be available afterwards as a podcast.

I hope you and your children are well-rested for the unprecedented year ahead. It’s sure to be challenging for all involved.

thanks Leonie

Categories Newsletters, Updates | Tags: | Posted on September 2, 2020

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