Education

Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about reopening the school building in New York City:

What do I need to do to reopen the New York City school building?

Mayor Bill Debrasio has been unable to answer that question since closing the classroom as coronavirus cases increased last week, but he and Governor Andrew Kuomo plan this week for further consideration. I promised to stand.

The city-wide closure will take place just two months after the school building is reopened this year. The suspension now gives the country’s largest school system a second chance to create a reopening plan.

The direct experience gained from a short experience of face-to-face learning in the city clearly highlighted some bright spots — low rates of virus in the building, city tests show, and many teachers and students. Was relieved to return to the classroom. But it also highlighted deep challenges in staffing schools, servicing children who are already facing learning challenges, and providing childcare to working families.

Some support a resumption plan that looks very different from the last time.

Ultimately, the city’s new semester plan depends on whether parents can rest assured that their children will return to the classroom. Most people choose distance learning, and the city sees little inclusion in its child care program, Learning Bridge. On the other hand, cases of coronavirus are creeping upwards.

This is what we know about what a recent return to the classroom looks like, and how supporters want those plans to improve.

Does the school need more coronavirus tests?

One thing is certain, de Blasio said, that in order to return to the classroom, more COVID-19 tests will need to be done at school.

Soon next week, Debrasio expects the state to mark the city as an “orange zone,” he said on Monday. This keeps the school closed for at least four days, but at the same time it could reopen if the face-to-face students and staff were initially negative, and then a quarter of the face-to-face students. Takes a weekly test.

However, Governor Andrew Cuomo questioned the city’s ability to extend weekly tests for hundreds of thousands of students, saying that city-specific rules may be needed to resume. De Blasio admitted that it would be a large-scale business, but said it could “absolutely.”

However, Brooklyn’s 21 school buildings, which closed last month, may have been reopened under the governor’s plan and have remained closed for several weeks, questioning the mayor’s optimism.

According to De Blasio, the city has already laid the foundation for a strengthened test and will be required to agree to the test before students return to class.

“When we restart everyone who comes to that school building, the tests become more standard, so every child has a test consent to the file so that we can test them whenever we need them. Must be, “said the mayor last week.

According to the New York Post, this can be a major hurdle for city schools. Before the classroom was closed, 117,000 students had returned the consent form. Since the beginning of the school year, approximately 280,000 students have attended at least one face-to-face class, as indicated by attendance.

Data from the Situation Room, which coordinates tests and trace surveys at municipal schools, showed that 2,805 students and staff were positive for the coronavirus since September 14 before the entire system shut down.

Who will return to the classroom first?

At this point, De Blasio has shown plans to basically repeat what he did in September. First, bring back the students in District 75 with the most complex disabilities, then the pre-kindergarten students, then the elementary school, then the middle school. And high school.

Remote learning can be especially difficult for young students who are just learning to read and need more parental supervision to log in to virtual classes and maintain engagement. Many students living in homeless shelters do not yet have access to WiFi or a stable connection to mobile phone services to use hotspots or city-issued internet-enabled iPads.

Also, students with disabilities, the majority of whom are not enrolled in district 75 schools, can struggle without direct support and the stable environment provided by the school. To make matters worse, families with children with disabilities say they are away from the city’s Learning Bridge program, which was set up to provide free childcare on days when students are out of school.

Can students attend more days directly?

So far, the city does not seem to plan to deviate significantly from the current hybrid model, where students attend face-to-face classes only one to three times a week, given social distance.

De Blasio also said he would allow students to attend more days if there was space in the school due to less direct attendance. There is an increasing call to focus on direct coaching to students who may be most needed by the city.

“We continue to hear from families who want more face-to-face instruction because distance learning is not useful for children,” said a non-profit child advocate working with families with children with disabilities. Kim Sweet, the secretary general of the organization, said. “The mayor must consider the tremendous impact on these students.”

City Council Board of Education Chairman Mark Trager and others have asked the city to provide full-time face-to-face guidance to students at greatest risk of delay, including not only the youngest of the city but also students learning English as a new language. I’m looking for. student.

High school students are more likely to adapt to distance learning than younger children, so Treiger et al. Suggested that younger and underprivileged children use the high school building. Many New York City high schools already offer complete distance learning, and students log in to virtual classrooms even when they are in the classroom.

Still, providing full-time learning in the classroom, even for a small part of the city’s student population, can pose a major challenge to staffing. Last year, there were more than 87,000 students in Pre-kindergarten alone and more than 231,000 students with disabilities. Many should be learning with a generally well-developed companion rather than being quarantined.

Before the building closes, principal Julie Zukerman plans to bring another 40 children to study directly at her small elementary school in Washington Heights, part of the week. There were a total of 80 children in the building. She was also interested in trapping some of her children, whose parents are essential workers, in the building every day.

“We already have a much better job in distance education, and there is a way to go,” Zuckerman said. “But we know that because of technology, there aren’t enough spaces in the house, or there are people who can help kids get online and organize their day. If he intends to benefit from any guidance, he must be in school or in a situation with staff. “

Does the closure threshold have a different look?

The mayor has set conservative criteria for closing schools to win the trust of parents and teachers who threatened the strike this summer. The threshold was a 3% positive rate against the weekly average of rolling.

However, only two months after reopening the school building, the closure began, and many people across the city, especially as COVID-19 tests at schools revealed few infections. I’m wondering if this single closure approach is the best way to go.

United Teachers Federation President Michael Marguerite is currently advocating a more targeted geographic approach. Cities and states have already taken that route and closed schools in October only in some areas of the outbreak.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to remotely control the entire system if transmission speeds are kept low in large areas of the city,” Marguerite said in an open letter released Sunday.

However, there is a real question as to whether such an approach helps slow the spread of the coronavirus. New York City offers parents a wide range of school choices. This means that many people either take public transport or go out of the neighborhood to school. According to an analysis by the New York City Center for Problems, even many kindergarten children (about 40%) attend schools outside their neighborhood.

Such movements can also have a disproportionate impact on black and Latin communities, which have a high incidence of coronavirus.

What other approaches can the city take?

It seems unlikely that the city will collapse dramatically with the initial school opening plan. However, there are options for a substantially different approach, which can provide more parenting opportunities for parents and more face-to-face instruction for students.

Former Vice-Principal Stanley Rito, who was a member of the Mayor’s School Reopening Committee this summer, advocated a staggered school day in which children attend daily morning or afternoon sessions. This approach may provide more students with face-to-face instruction five days a week, but it is also costly due to transportation and staffing issues.

Another option is to stick to distance learning, but to open a nursery school that was run by the city until this spring. Volunteers were assigned to these centers to provide free, full-time care to the children of front-line workers. Reviving such a model and extending it to serve the students who are struggling with distance learning will face parents who need full-time childcare, lack of internet access, or learning at home. You can help students who are dependent on their school for a diet that faces other challenges.

Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about reopening the school building in New York City:

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