NEW YORK — New York City will provide childcare to 100,000 New York City kids this fall as the Department of Education, in an attempt to protect students from novel coronavirus, offers in-school learning just two or three days a week.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday a public childcare program that will see kids supervised in public and private locations across the five boroughs.
“So many parents have said we can’t make it work if we don’t have more childcare,” de Blasio said. “There is so much we need to do and we have to do it the right way.”
The city has two months to organize the effort, which will include staffing, purchasing personal protective equipment, developing learning labs in partnerships with libraries and cultural institutions, and organizing field trips when possible, said Budget Director Melanie Hartzog said.
Admissions will be on a rolling basis and the city hopes to increase capacity as the fall semester progresses, officials said.
New York is home to about 1.1 million public school students, all of whom face a year of school unlike any other in the city’s history.
City schools are set to partially re-open in September, but in order to shrink class sizes to allow for social distancing, most students will only be able to attend two or three days a week. That news left working parents reeling.
"We're going to use every conceivable space, community centers, libraries, cultural organizations, whatever we can find in communities," the mayor said. "And the goal will be to start by serving 100,000 kids and giving those families, those parents that balance in their life, that relief, that support, but then we aim to go farther."
The announcement comes after many questioned why a childcare plan wasn't already in place when the partial school return was announced last week.
"I was very worried a week ago when the plan was announced with nothing here, and then really encouraged today by the mayor's commitment to really scale up and put a team on this and get it done," said City Councilman Brad Lander.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza was not present at de Blasio’s press briefing to field questions about the program.
The childcare will be available for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The city will provide masks and other protective equipment, and limit occupancy of the sites to allow for social distancing.
The mayor said the city will look to existing partners that run early childhood, community and after-school programs to staff the centers.
The city will need to find space for the sites, and the School Construction Authority is open to suggestions from property owners, which can be submitted online.
"I think there's a lot of people who have sites, who have property who actually would like the opportunity to do good for the city and obviously bring in some revenue at the same time," de Blasio said.