While New York City awaits word from the state on whether schools can reopen in the fall, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza says the city has been exploring all options for the upcoming school year.
But he says a split schedule, which would offer a morning and afternoon shift, is no longer on the table.
“The problem, quite frankly, is that there is not enough time to completely disinfect and sterilize the entire school in between those shifts,” Carranza told NY1 in an exclusive interview.
“So you would have to actually start much earlier, and the second shift start much later — which we’ve heard from our building principals and other focus groups that we’ve had that that just wouldn’t work from them,” he added.
Carranza says the city’s proposed models instead operate around different days of the week, which allow time for schools to be properly sterilized with use of hydrostatic cleaners.
The Department of Education is allowing schools to choose from different learning models, which involve variations in schedules, in-person and remote learning. Carranza says planning for these scenarios with limited time has been challenging because in a typical year, preparation for fall begins in January.
Parents however are not all thrilled about blended learning models offered by the city. They argue the inflexibility of staggered schedules will make it difficult to navigate childcare and work.
But the schools chancellor points out now is the opportunity for parents to offer input. School principals are lobbying their parent communities to see which models work best for each location.
Still, school may not return in buildings students are used to.
Carranza says the city is weighing the possibility of offering classes in business spaces or bigger venues. But it would still have to explore all aspects of those buildings — from entrances, to filtration systems, to the ability to offer one-way traffic from within to limit close contact.
And some teachers unhappy with the plan for schools are asking the city to think outside the box. Those concerned for their health and safety are asking that the city consider outdoor spaces, like parks and rooftops, for in-person learning.
Carranza joined NY1’s One New York on Thursday morning.