NEW YORK — A sobering statistic: more than 2,500 students have fallen off the education department's radar since city schools closed in March because of the pandemic.
"To date, we're around 2,600 students that are still being pursued, and we're looking into social workers, attendance teachers, and school personnel to locate and ensure that students become connected, logged on,” First Deputy Chancellor Donald Conyers said.
It was one of several startling revelations at a City Council hearing Wednesday examining student achievement ten months after the pandemic began. Another: thousands of students learning remotely still need iPads or laptops.
"We have about 5,800 open requests that have come in recently in the past few weeks, but, as I mentioned, we had already ordered about 50,000 more iPads, so we have already begun shipping devices out to those students,” Lauren Siciliano, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at the New York City Department of Education, testified.
Education department officials say those students have not necessarily been without a way to get online since last March.
"Device need is a constantly fluid need," Siciliano said. "There are students who have access to devices and internet one day and don't the next because the device stops working, it's out of date, a family member needs it."
Officials also revealed that 71,675 of the city's one million students received an incomplete grade last school year, given in lieu of failing marks. About 28% of those students have special needs, and 19% of them are learning English.
They have until the end of this month to make up the work. But Councilman Mark Treyger, the education committee's chairman, is worried many of those students may have lacked the internet or iPads they need to get that work done.
"No student in New York City should be assigned a failing permanent, damaging grade for something they bear no responsibility for. The system failed them. Government failed them,” he said.
And while Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted in November that most elementary and special education schools would be able to offer all students five-day-a-week instruction, that's not yet true. Council members were told just 247 of those schools have all students attending five days a week. Another 259 have a majority of their students attending five days a week. And about 350 more have only priority students attending that often.
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