NEW YORK CITY — New York City students will continue remote learning part-time in September as part of a school reopening plan to limit classroom sizes in the fall.
Mayor Bill de Blasio released Wednesday his “blended learning" plan that will see 1.1 million public school students spending only about two or three days per week in school buildings.
“This is the single biggest piece of the equation,” de Blasio said. “The first focus will be on health and safety.”
Parents will be able to choose between all-remote or blended learning that would see staggered hours and classroom days, said Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza.
“We will work with schools to maximize the amount of in-person instruction,” Carranza said. “We designed this model with principals at the table.”
Face coverings will be required to the greatest extent possible with exceptions for students who cannot wear them for health reasons, de Blasio said.
The DOE created various sample schedules and models each based on school capacity and overcrowding, Carranza said.
The optimal classroom size will be nine to 12 students, the chancellor said.
Schools with high capacity will get more in-class days while more overcrowded schools will get less, according to the chancellor.
Students who rely on Individualized Education Plans will receive in-person services to “the greatest extent possible” and some student groups, including those with disabilities, will be prioritized for five days a week of in-class instruction, Carranza said.
Carranza warned five days of in-school learning might not be possible in every school building.
“This is very new and different, and I know it’s no one’s first choice,” Carranza said. “But we need to do it to maintain the health and safety of our school communities.”
Classrooms could reopen in leased public spaces, gymnasiums and any other locations the city might use to expand capacity, de Blasio said.
“We’re going to get our hands on any and all space we can to maximize the options,” de Blasio said.
Parents looking for more information will be able to find it on a DOE website launched Wednesday and can attend a parent information session on July 16.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo must approve the plan. He said Wednesday he will make a decision in early August.
The mayor ducked a question about his tumultuous relationship with Cuomo, who has repeatedly stepped in after de Blasio released a citywide plan to say, “That’s his opinion.”
“There’s a huge amount of work to be done,” de Blasio said simply. “The only way we’re going to be in a position to open schools is if we’re ready right now.”
De Blasio told parents to expect reopening plans to change as more data came in on the spread of novel coronavirus.
“Things can change along the way,” de Blasio said. “We have to be able to move with those changes, but it depends on starting now.”