The 126,000 students in city charter schools have begun heading back to class. And for those in the largest charter networks, school is online.
"Students will be logging in at 8 o'clock, and teachers, and we’ll be getting started with the business of learning," said Alicia Johnson, president of KIPP New York City Charter Schools.
KIPP NYC serves about 7,000 students. The network will start the academic year Monday with remote learning.
"We believe that we’re going to be remote through at least September 30, and as we get closer to that date, we’ll be able to evaluate how and when we make that transition to hybrid learning," Johnson said.
Charter schools that share space with traditional public schools haven't been able to access buildings yet, which is why Success Academy, the city's largest charter network, says it too is starting online only. Some Success classes resumed last week.
KIPP says its decision to delay any in-person instruction has been embraced.
"Parents were grateful to have the delayed school start and to have this online learning period because there's so much anxiety out in the world and concern about coming back into the building," Johnson said.
Johnson says KIPP schools spent the summer improving remote instruction, knowing that even when in-person instruction resumes, students will still learn in class and at home on alternating days.
"We’re going to be doing some version of this all year, so let’s make it really good," she said.
That included shipping more than 2,000 laptops to ensure each student has one, and changing to a new online learning system that will allow parents to log in along with their children.
Some smaller charter schools will provide in-person instruction.
"We’re basically running two dual models of school: one purely remote that starts Monday, and one in person for our neediest families ran by teacher volunteers and staff volunteer that starts on the following Monday, August 31," said Zeta Charter School Bronx principal SOT Tamika Tretu.
About 75 of Zeta's 420 students will attend in person. Teachers outfitted with cloth masks and and clear face shields have been busy setting up classrooms. Remote learning has been upgraded with more live instruction.
"I think we’re ready. It’s going to be a different year, but we’re trying to get ready for it," Tretu said.