The reopening of New York City public schools is being delayed in a surprising twist.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza told NY1 in an exclusive interview that the school system was just not ready for the intended Sept. 10 start date.
“It’s always important to have a goal. And the first day of school was always planned to be the tenth of September. But as we got more and more into the details, working with our labor partners, it became very apparent that we needed more time. We’re going to start this school year in a way that has never, ever, ever happened before,” Carranza said.
The city had been adamant about opening classroom doors at the start of the month despite pushback from parents and faculty. The mayor suddenly announced Monday that school buildings will instead reopen for in-person learning on Sept. 21, and remote learning will launch Sept. 16.
Carranza said the city is working to ensure all needs are being met with the new timeline.
“Our focus right now is making sure that buildings are safe, they’re ready to go. The ventilation systems are being worked on. Any problems that have been identified are being addressed,” he said.
“Secondly, we’re making sure that schools are programming their schedules. Some students and families have elected remote learning, some have elected the in-person learning, so for those families that are in the blended learning mode, we want to make sure that they get schedules so that they know what days of the week will their students be in person in school, and what days will they be learning remotely,” said the schools chancellor.
Carranza said another priority is ensuring school systems are able to launch with a robust learning program, from devices to connectivity to curriculum.
Carranza said it’s important that these efforts are carried on throughout the school year.
“We’re going to have a first day. Whatever that first day is going to be a first day. But my concern is what do you do the second, third, fourth, seventeenth day. Because consistency and being accountable for health and safety throughout the year is what we’re really looking for — the long-term solution, not just the first day,” Carranza said.
The city is working to perfect staggered arrival times to avoid congregation, one-way hallways, social distancing and meal time in classrooms, among other things. Teachers will undergo nine days of professional development, rather than the standard two.
“You need time to actually put all of those things in place given the circumstances of your school. So it became very apparent that we needed more time. And we were hearing from our colleagues, our principals and our teachers, that we need more time. So all of that led to us really reevaluating, and I think it’s a good example that we’re listening,” said Carranza.
Testing will be a key part of reopening. City schools will be testing more people than the populations of over three quarters of the states in the country, according to Carranza.
Results will be turned around within 48 hours.
Carranza said a “war room” will be set up for personnel to track and monitor different work streams, from PPE delivery to ventilation to technology.
The city is also working on busing contracts, which will prioritize students with disabilities.
Carranza said the goal is flawless execution.
“Our goal is perfection. We all know that that’s a very difficult moving target at times given certain circumstances, but that’s our goal,” Carranza said on “Mornings On 1.”