Messages for Families

December 22, 2020: End of Year Message for Families

American Sign Language (video)

Before we part for Winter Recess, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for all you have done to keep the learning going during this unforgettable year.

Our families and educators are the hearts and souls of our school communities, and everything we have gotten right this year, we owe to you. To the sacrifices you have made to ensure your children thrive in an era of blended and remote learning. To your trust in our public schools. To your personal feedback to me—whether positive or negative, it has helped me and everyone at the DOE better serve you and your children.

Although the holidays will look very different this year, there is still much to celebrate. I hope you take time to rejoice, relax, connect with loved ones near and far—and reflect on the acts of kindness and compassion that have lifted your lives these past 12 months.

As we look ahead to the rest of the school year, we are unwavering in our focus to deliver the highest-quality education possible to each of your children. We do this to prepare them for a successful, productive life, empowered with the skills they need to chase their dreams. To that end, last week we announced changes to the middle and high school admissions process, which will open in January. Beginning next year, our middle schools will not use academic records, auditions, or other screens or assessments to evaluate or admit students, and high schools will phase out geographic priorities. This will result in a fairer process for all New York City public school families. To learn more, please visit our pages on Middle School or High School admissions .

We know there’s more to do, and we are united in our mission to make sure your child—and every one of their 1.1 million peers—receives the best education possible in the greatest city in the world.

On behalf of all of us at the Department of Education, I wish you and your loved ones a beautiful holiday season and a happy new year. Please stay safe and well, and we look forward to seeing you in 2021!

December 18, 2020: Update for Families on High School Admissions

American Sign Language (video)

This has been a year of new challenges and difficult choices, testing our collective strength and endurance as we have faced the unknown together. We have had to reinvent the building blocks of public education in the nation’s largest school system, from how to “go to class,” to grading policy, attendance, and everything in between.

Today I am writing with an update on another fundamental pillar of your child’s education: the high school application and enrollment process this year, which will open the week of January 18. I want to thank you for your patience as we have worked for months to talk to families and conduct careful analysis to develop a new high school admissions policy that meets this challenging moment. This new policy will better support your child’s learning journey, and that of their fellow 69,000 eighth graders, as we look ahead to Fall 2021. 

New York City is home to approximately 250 total high schools that have geographic priorities in place, limiting opportunity for hard-working students to attend some of our most in-demand schools based on where they live. Additionally, there are 126 high schools that “screen” students for admission using academic records, auditions, attendance, special assessments, interviews, or other measures. They’ve historically used a student’s academic records to determine if they’re suitable for entry to the school. The changes we are sharing with you today relate to all of these schools.

How will my student’s place of residence affect their high school applications this year? 

  • In the interest of a more equitable process for all families, geographic admissions priorities for high schools will be phased out over the next two years. This means that, after next year, the location of a student’s home cannot alone determine their chances of getting into a certain school.
  • District priorities for high school admissions will be permanently eliminated this year, and all other geographic priorities—like borough residence requirements— will be eliminated next year.

How will my student’s academic performance affect their high school applications this year? 

  • For remaining screens at high schools, schools can choose to remove or alter their screens in the year ahead, or they may maintain them.
  • Schools that maintain academic screens are encouraged to make a concerted effort towards greater equity in their processes, either by electing to remove additional screens now, or implementing a Diversity in Admissions priority.
  • Approximately 100 NYC public schools currently prioritize targeted groups of students including, but not limited to, low-income students, English Language Learners, and students in temporary housing. We invite more schools to expand access to students of all backgrounds. 
  • For those high schools that maintain academic screens, a combination of 2018-2019 state tests, the previous years’ grades, and/or other measures will be used depending on school-established criteria. 
  • Schools will be required to publicly publish their academic screening criteria on MySchools. 

Beyond geographic priorities and academically screened schools, the city is also home to the Specialized High Schools. The DOE is required by State law to administer the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) for admissions to these schools. To ensure health and safety of our staff and students, the SHSAT exam will be administered in students’ own middle schools to reduce travel and different cohorts of students. Registration for the test opens on Monday, December 21, 2020 and ends on January 15, 2021. Test administration will begin in late January.

Why we are making changes? 

As Chancellor, it is my responsibility to deliver the highest-quality education possible to each of your children, so that they are prepared for a successful, productive life, and empowered with the skills they need to chase their dreams. We must continue this work against the backdrop of inequities in our City and in our school system that have been exacerbated this year by the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 health crisis has had on communities of color, immigrant families, and on students whose parents never had the option to work from home.

While there is more to do to keep driving toward their mission, these adjustments to admissions respond to the challenges we face as a system. They address the concerns of families, students, and leaders of screened schools the ways screens are an obstacle for many students to an education that would serve them well. So we are taking action. 

We will provide guidance and a variety of new resources in our schools and offices to help you navigate the process and find an excellent high school for your student. You can get started by visiting High School Enrollment to learn more about the process, and myschools.nyc to set up your MySchools account to be ready when the application period opens. Do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s school counselor—they will be your guide throughout the process. You can also contact a Family Welcome Center or call 718-935-2009.

These changes show that our values can become action, and that no policy, or way of doing things, is so entrenched that it cannot be revised in the name of serving all our children. We believe in schools that deliver equal opportunity to all students to the best education possible. We know there’s more to do, so we will initiate further talks with school communities to help inform the use of screens past September 2021. 

I want to thank all of you for your collaboration. We are united in our mission to make sure your child—and every one of their 1.1 million peers—receives the best education possible in the greatest city in the world.

December 18, 2020: Update for Families on Middle School Admissions

American Sign Language (video)

This has been a year of new challenges and difficult choices, testing our collective strength and endurance as we have faced the unknown together. We have had to reinvent the building blocks of public education in the nation’s largest school system, from how to “go to class,” to grading policy, attendance, and everything in between.

Today I am writing with an update on another fundamental pillar of your child’s education: enrolling in middle school for next September. I want to thank you for your patience as we have worked for months to talk to families and conduct careful analysis to develop a new middle school admissions policy that meets this challenging moment. This new policy will better support your child’s learning journey, and that of their fellow 70,000 fifth graders, as we look ahead to Fall 2021. 

We have made some changes to the middle school enrollment process this year. This year’s middle school application will open the week of January 11. New York City Department of Education (DOE) middle schools will not use academic records, auditions, or other screens or assessments to evaluate or admit students this year. Schools will maintain priority for students living in the district, because we heard from families across the city that they want to attend middle school closer to home. If a school has more applicants than available seats, offers will be made using a random lottery. In a small number of schools that have launched their own Diversity in Admissions pilots, they will admit priority groups of students first based on their school plans. 

Here is why. 

New York City is home to nearly 200 middle schools—40% of all middle schools—that “screen” students for admission using academic records, auditions, attendance, discipline records, special assessments, interviews, or other measures. They’ve historically used these academic and other records from a student’s fourth grade to determine if they’re suitable for entry to the school. 

This year, we do not have much of this typical screening information because of the effects of the pandemic. The State did not administer standardized tests for fourth graders last year. The grading policy required revision to meet the unprecedented ending to the last school year. Attendance and other key policies shifted to accommodate the circumstances families were enduring because of the pandemic. Generally speaking, the measures these screened schools traditionally relied on for making admissions decisions are no longer available.

What’s more, as Chancellor, it is my responsibility to deliver the highest-quality education possible to each of your children, so that they are prepared for a successful, productive life, and empowered with the skills they need to chase their dreams. There are inequities in our City and in our school system that have been exacerbated this year by the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 health crisis has had on our communities of color, our immigrant families, the students whose parents never had the option to work from home, and more. When I’ve spoken to families, students, and leaders of screened schools about potential changes, they have articulated the ways these policies can be an obstacle to that goal for many students, because the screening criteria can be so closely connected to a student’s housing stability and economic status. 

That is why, now more than ever, it is so important to deliver the proven benefits of more inclusive classrooms to our students. Inclusive learning environments are proven to encourage the development of critical thinking skills. They are linked to long-term success and life opportunities and lead to higher graduation achievement and better access to social and professional networks for more students. 

In effect, screening fifth graders without data, especially in a year as challenging as this one, is unfair, unequal, and untenable to continue. 

This is not the first time this approach has been implemented. Removing screens from middle schools has been successful in districts that have already begun this work, like in Brooklyn’s District 15. Simplifying the admissions process and making our city fairer is the right thing to do for students, families and schools, particularly this year. 

 We will provide guidance and a variety of fresh new resources in our schools and offices to help you navigate the process and find an excellent middle school for your student. You can get started by visiting Middle School Enrollment to learn more about the process, and MySchools.nyc to set up your MySchools account to be ready when the application period opens. Do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s school counselor—they will be your guide throughout the process. You can also contact a Family Welcome Center or call 718-935-2009. 

This change shows that our values can become action, and that no policy, or way of doing things, is so entrenched that it cannot be revised in the name of serving all our children. We believe in schools that serve all children, and a system that delivers equal opportunity to the best education possible. We know there’s more to do, so we will initiate further talks with school communities to help inform the use of screens past September 2021.

I want to thank all of you—from the students and families who have been fighting for this for years, to those of you who are approaching middle school admissions for the first time through your child’s upcoming enrollment—for your collaboration. We are united in our mission to make sure your child—and every one of their 1.1 million peers—receives the best education possible in the greatest city in the world.

December 15, 2020 : Information on Potential Inclement Weather Closures

American Sign Language (video)

Dear Families, 

I hope you are safe and well.

As we head into winter, it’s likely we will have inclement weather that in an ordinary year would cause all schools to close for teaching and learning. This year, if a snowstorm or other weather demands that school buildings close, all schools will still conduct remote learning on that day. All students will be expected to log on and engage with their work from home as they do on other days when they learn remotely. Middle and high school students who are already learning remotely every day are expected to attend school remotely, regardless of the weather.

The ability to teach and learn remotely across the system allows us to continue learning despite inclement weather closures. You will still be notified as usual when we are closing buildings due to weather, but these will not be days off from learning. 

Your school will stay in close communication with you regarding the upcoming snowstorm predicted to affect New York City beginning the evening of Wednesday, December 16. Please note that extra meals will be available on Tuesday, December 15 and Wednesday, December 16 to take home.

Please do not hesitate to contact your principal if you have any questions. 

December 11, 2020: December Reopening

American Sign Language (video)

Dear Families,

What an exciting week this has been, reopening our school buildings for in-person instruction after this recent brief closure. I want to thank our students and families, our teachers, principals, and school staff for a safe and smooth reopening. I know it hasn’t been easy, but public education is critical to our city’s, and nation’s, future, and it is why we continue to do everything in our power to keep our school communities thriving.

With support from all corners of New York City, we have been able to bring students in 3-K through fifth grade, and students in all grade levels in District 75 schools, back into classrooms. This is an important step in fulfilling our pledge to you: to provide a safe, secure environment in which your children can learn and grow. And a quick reminder: for blended learning to work best for everyone, we need your child to show up to school on their scheduled in-person days. Blended learning students in grades 6 through 12 in district 1–32 schools, including those participating in District 75 Inclusion Programs, will continue to learn remotely at this time.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still very much with us. Given the ongoing fight against a citywide resurgence, please note that we have changed our in-school testing protocol. In order to keep our buildings open, we now require mandatory, weekly in-school testing for COVID-19 for a randomly selected portion of staff and students in grades 1 and higher.

And this is critical: If your child returns to school for in-person instruction without a consent form on file, principals and school staff will contact you to obtain consent. After that, students without consent forms on file, who do not have an approved or pending medical or disability-based exemption, must be moved to fully remote instruction.

In this Update for Families, you will find information on:

  • What you need to know about mandatory, in-school testing 
  • How to submit consent for in-school random testing
  • What to do if your child has recently traveled 
  • What you need to know about exemptions from in-school testing
  • How to apply for kindergarten for the 2021–2022 school year 
  • How to learn more about elementary admissions
  • How to participate in Parent University, a new platform offering families on-demand courses and resources on a host of subjects. 

Because so much uncertainty comes with this pandemic, we remain committed to our time-honored traditions, which remind us that we are a community. One of those is our annual Big Apple Awards, recognizing outstanding teachers and college and career counselors. This year, it feels especially important to honor the teachers or counselors who have made a difference in your child’s life. Nominate an educator by January 10, 2021 by visiting the Big Apple Awards webpage on our site.

As always, I am grateful for your flexibility and patience as we continue our journey together through this unprecedented year. There is no doubt that Covid-19 has affected our children—academically, socially, and emotionally, and we are already looking ahead to the next school year. This week, the Mayor and I introduced the 2021 Student Achievement Plan to bring our schools back stronger than ever next fall. Working with our educators and all of you, we will create a roadmap rooted in healing and learning. I’ll be sharing more on this in the months to come.

I know that if we all do our part, we can ensure a strong, supportive education for every child every day—no matter where they are learning.

What You Need to Know about Mandatory, In-School Testing 

In order for your child to return to in-person learning, you must submit the consent form for in-school COVID-19 testing by the first day your child returns to their school building.

  • Testing will happen weekly for a random selection of staff and students in your child’s school.
  • Any student in grade 1 or higher returning to school buildings must submit a consent form for COVID-19 testing in school by their first day back in school buildings.
  • 3-K, pre-K, and kindergarten students are excluded from random testing.
  • The test is quick, safe, and easy. If you have not submitted a consent form and your child is learning in person, you must do so right away.

How to Submit Consent for In-School Random Testing 

Submitting consent to have your child tested for COVID-19 in school is quick and easy. Even if you have already submitted consent, we ask you to do so again to ensure your student has the latest consent form on file.

There are two easy ways to submit: 

1) Fill out the form online using a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA).

If you already have a NYCSA account linked to your student(s): Log in, click your student’s name, click “Manage Account,” and then when a dropdown menu appears, click “Consent Forms.” Read the page, and then choose the consent option at the end for your student.

If you do not already have a NYCSA account: You can create one right away! If you have an account creation code from your school, you can create a full account in approximately five minutes, and then provide consent as described above. If you do not have an account creation code from your school, you can still provide your consent right away by clicking “Manage Consent” under “COVID-19 Testing” and filling out your and your child’s information to provide consent.

2) Print and sign the attached form and bring it to your child’s school on the first day they are back in the school building. A printable PDF file is available in ten languages at COVID-19 Testing for Students and Staff.

 What to Do if Your Child Has Recently Traveled

  • If your child has recently traveled outside of New York to a place on the State’s travel advisory list they must quarantine for 14 days.
  • They also have the option to test out of quarantine based on the State’s guidelines: coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory.
  • You or your child should continue to complete the health questionnaire daily.

What You Need to Know about Exemptions from In-School Testing 

 Exemptions will only be granted in certain limited cases, and two types of exemption request forms are available at COVID-19 Testing for Students and Staff:

  • A form for students who need a medical exemption due to a health condition that would make it unsafe to undergo testing (e.g., facial trauma, nasal surgery). This form must be signed by a physician and be submitted with supporting medical documentation.
  • A form for students with disabilities who cannot be safely tested in school due to the nature of their disability. Students with an approved disability-based exemption will be expected to get tested outside of school. 

How to Apply for Kindergarten for the 2021–2022 School Year

It’s time to start your child’s journey through elementary school! If you live in New York City and your child was born in 2016, the kindergarten application is now open. Be sure to apply by January 19, 2021.

You can apply one of two ways:

  • Online at MySchools.nyc. Click on the link to create or access your MySchools account. 
  • By phone at (718) 935-2009. Call Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., or Saturday through Sunday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. 

With MySchools, you can search for schools, find great choices for your child’s application, and apply to kindergarten—all in one place.

  • To learn more about kindergarten admissions, visit our Kindergarten enrollment page.

Our new Elementary Admissions Video series will walk you through what to expect, how to set up your MySchools account, and how to apply. Stay tuned: More videos are coming soon!

How to Learn More About Elementary Admissions 

Join us for a virtual Elementary Admissions event to learn about 3-K, pre-K, and kindergarten admissions. Find out what to expect and how to apply. All New York City families are welcome to attend.

Sessions will be held on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, December 15, at 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 17, at 6 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, January 6, at 6 p.m. 
  • Thursday, January 7, at 6 p.m. This event will be hosted in Spanish. 
  • Tuesday, January 12, at 2 p.m

Register for a session TODAY! When you register, be sure to indicate your language preference—interpretation services in specific languages will be provided for each session based on these responses.

How to Participate in Parent University 

Parent University is a new online platform that offers a catalog of courses, live events, and activities to help connect with families and support students. The platform offers all New York City parents and guardians access to live and on-demand courses and resources across multiple subject areas and grade bands. Courses are available in multiple languages and we’re working to expand the number of multilingual offerings. 

All families, from early childhood to adult education, can create a free account and register for workshops, attend an event, find a training and more. There are currently 95+ courses offered covering a wide range of topics including: 

  • Remote Learning and Technology
  • Health and Wellness
  • Special Education
  • Multilingual Learners
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Parent Leadership
  • School Buildings and Operations
  • Adult and Continuing Education

December 3, 2020: District 75 Student COVID-19 Testing

Dear Families

As we prepare to reopen District 75 school buildings on December 10, we wanted to provide an update on school-based student COVID-19 testing for District 75 and District 75 Inclusion Program students. As you may be aware, in October, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) partnered with the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the NYC Test and Trace Corps (T2) to begin random, monthly COVID-19 testing of DOE staff members and students in community school districts citywide. To date, more than 100,000 students and staff members across the City have been tested.

This testing—which is quick, easy, and safe—is critical to keeping our students, families, and staff members healthy and our schools open for teaching and learning throughout the 2020–2021 school year. And because testing helps identify positive COVID-19 cases where symptoms are not always present, we are working closely with our partners at DOHMH and T2 to expand our overall capacity to test DOE students and staff members citywide.

This month, we will be expanding our in-school random testing program to include students attending District 75 schools. Staff members at these schools have already been participating in random testing since the program began in October. Staff testing will resume on December 10 and student testing will begin on December 14. Students in D75 Inclusion Programs will participate in their community school district testing program—please see additional information in the FAQ section of this letter. Testing will continue on a weekly basis.

All students citywide, including students attending District 75 schools, are required to participate in in-school testing, unless they have an exemption. Students who do not submit a consent form or an exemption request will be moved to fully remote learning. To keep our school communities healthy and safe, and to ensure our school buildings stay open, we encourage parents/guardians to fill out the testing consent form using a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA), by printing and signing the form available in 10 languages, or by asking your school for a copy.

COVID-19 Testing in School for District 75 Students

Important things to know about how we will test your children:

  • We need consent on file for every student. Parents may request an exemption for medical or disability-based reasons, but exemptions will be limited in their approval.
  • No child will be tested if they are uncomfortable or become distressed at any point during the testing process.
  • School nurses from your school, who already know your child, will receive special training in order to administer testing to students whose parents have consented. In some cases, there may be an additional on-site provider supporting schools with administering tests. If you would prefer that your child’s test is administered by your child’s school nurse, please let your school know. School nurses will conduct the vast majority of student testing in District 75.
  • The test will be administered via swab low in the nose, which makes the experience quick and easy for students.
  • Finally, you can arrange in advance for the parent coordinator or an assigned designee at your school to call you before and after in-school testing to keep you updated on your child’s response to the test.

Test Results and Your Child’s Privacy

  • When a student is tested at school, information about the testing process, including when families will receive the results, will be sent home with the student.
  • The majority of testing results will be available within 48 hours. If your child tests positive for COVID-19, the testing provider will notify you via a telephone call, and Test & Trace Corps will call to provide your family with resources and support.
  • All testing-related data, information, and results obtained in-school or at any of NYC Health + Hospitals’ free COVID-19 testing sites—is confidential and protected by strict City, State, and federal laws, including for student data privacy.
  • COVID-19 tests are not used for any other purpose than to determine whether your child has COVID-19.

FAQs

How do I submit consent?

Submitting consent to have your child tested for COVID-19 in school is quick and easy. Even if you have already submitted your consent, we ask you to do so again to ensure your student has the latest consent form on file. There are two easy ways to submit:

  1. Fill out the form online using a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA)
    • If you already have a NYCSA account linked to your student(s): Log in, click your student’s name, click “Manage Account,” and then when a dropdown menu appears, click “Consent Forms.” Read the page, and then choose the consent option at the end for your student
    • If you do not already have a NYCSA account: You can create one at mystudent.nyc right away! If you have an account creation code from your school, you can create a full account in just a few minutes, and then provide consent as described above. If you do not have an account creation code from your school, you can still provide your immediate consent by clicking “Manage Consent” under “COVID-19 Testing” and filling out your and your child’s information.
  2. Print and sign the attached form and bring it to your child’s school on the first day they are back in the school building. A printable PDF file is available in ten languages.

Can my child receive an exemption from weekly random testing?

Exemptions will only be granted in certain limited cases. All requests will be reviewed, but only circumstances that directly impact your child's ability to be tested will be cause for an exemption. Two forms for requesting an exemption are be available on our Covid Testing page.

  • A form for students who need a medical exemption due to a health condition that would make it unsafe to undergo testing (e.g., facial trauma, nasal surgery). This form must be signed by a physician and you must submit medical documentation from a health care provider.
  • A form for students with disabilities who cannot be safely tested in school due to the nature of their disability. It will be expected that you obtain COVID-19 testing from your child’s health care provider or another testing provider upon being randomly selected.

An e-mail address must be entered into the tracking system for tests that are administered in schools. If you have not already done so, please make sure your school has an e-mail address on file for you. If you do not have an e-mail address, please contact your school’s parent coordinator as soon as possible for assistance in setting up an email account.

What happens if I don’t submit consent?

You must submit consent by the day that your child returns to your school building; this is the due date, and we need all students to participate.

  • If your child comes to school on their first day back for in-person instruction without a consent form on file, principals and school staff will contact you to obtain consent.
  • After that, students without consent forms on file who have not submitted a request for a medical or disability-based exemption must be moved to fully remote instruction. More information on exemptions will be provided by your child’s school principal this week.

What about students enrolled in District 75 Inclusion programs?

Students enrolled in District 75 Inclusion Programs will participate in the same COVID-19 student testing program as their general education peers. Their tests will be administered by external providers. As with all students, students in these programs may also request a medical or disability-based exemption as described above.

Students who receive Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) through the District 75 Inclusion Program are registered in their community district school. School buildings reopen for blended learning students participating in Elementary School Inclusion Programs beginning Monday, December 7, 2020.

Students in participating in Middle and High School Inclusion Programs will not report back to school buildings until a return date for blended learning in Grade 6-12 schools is established. Until the in-person return date, these students will continue learning remotely along with their general education peers and will receive specially-designed remote instruction from their Inclusion Program SETSS provider. Similarly, students enrolled in the District 75 Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) Program will return to school buildings beginning on their community district school's scheduled return date. For questions, email D75Inclusion@schools.nyc.gov.

We hope that efforts to accommodate all students provide the flexibility that families need in order to participate in this important public health initiative. We deeply appreciate your partnership, cooperation, and overall commitment to keeping school communities across the five boroughs safe and healthy. For more information about our in-school random testing protocols, including consent forms and safety guidelines, or about any of the City’s 22 free COVID-19 testing sites, visit our Covid Testing page.

November 29, 2020: Re-opening School Buildings 

American Sign Language (video)

Dear Families,

I hope you have had a restful break, and an opportunity to enjoy time with family.

As you are aware, on November 18, we temporarily closed school buildings for teaching and learning, and all New York City public school students transitioned to fully remote learning. Today, I am pleased to write to you with our plan to reopen school buildings for in-person instruction for many of our students. As always, health and safety remain our highest priorities, and this letter also contains information regarding mandatory weekly in-school testing for COVID-19 in all reopened buildings, and how you can submit the required consent forms.

The guidance below applies to students in blended learning, who have already chosen to learn in the school building part of the week, and from home the rest of the week. Students who chose fully remote learning prior to building closures will continue to learn remotely full time.

When can my child return to in-person learning?

  • Students in Grades 3K through Grade 5 will return to in-person learning beginning on Monday, December 7
    • This includes all students in grades 3K through 5, across early education and elementary school types (e.g., in K-2 schools, K-3 schools, K-5 schools, as well as District Pre-K Centers, K-8 schools, and K-12 schools).
    • This excludes schools currently located in State-designated Orange Zones, or Red Zones if they are declared. You can see if your school is currently in an Orange Zone using the NYC COVID Zone map.
  • Students in all grade levels in District 75 will return to in-person learning beginning on Thursday, December 10
    • This excludes schools located in State-designated Orange Zones. You can see if your school is currently in an Orange Zone using the NYC COVID Zone map.
  • Students in grades 6 through 12 (outside of District 75) will continue to learn remotely until further notice.
  • Students who have recently traveled outside of New York to a place on the State’s travel advisory list must quarantine for 14 days. You also have the option of testing out of quarantine based on the State’s guidelines. Students should continue to complete the health questionnaire daily.
  • These return dates apply to students in blended learning, including those who selected blended learning during the recent opt-in period.

What do I need to do to return to my school building?

In order for your child to return to in-person learning, you must submit the consent form for in-school COVID-19 testing by the first day your child returns to their school building. Testing will happen weekly for a random selection of staff and students in your child’s school. Given the ongoing fight against a citywide resurgence of COVID-19, this mandatory weekly testing for COVID-19 is a crucial part of our plan to keep all schools safe. Any student in grade 1 or higher returning to school buildings must submit a consent form for COVID-19 testing in school by their first day back in school buildings.

  • Any student in grade 1 or higher returning to school buildings must submit a consent form for COVID-19 testing in school by their first day back. 3K, Pre-K, and Kindergarten students are excluded from random testing.
  • The test is quick, safe, and easy. A video showing the testing process is available on our COVID Testing page.

How do I submit consent?

Submitting consent to have your child tested for COVID-19 in school is quick and easy. Even if you have already submitted consent, we ask you to do so again to ensure your student has the latest consent form on file. There are two easy ways to submit:

Fill out the form online using a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA)

  • If you already have a NYCSA account linked to your student(s): Log in, click your student’s name, click “Manage Account,” and then when a dropdown menu appears, click “Consent Forms.” Read the page, and then choose the consent option at the end for your student.
  • If you do not already have a NYCSA account: You can create one right away! If you have an account creation code from your school, you can create a full account in approximately five minutes, and then provide consent as described above. If you do not have an account creation code from your school, you can still provide your consent right away by clicking “Manage Consent” under “COVID-19 Testing” and filling out your and your child’s information to provide consent.

Print and sign the attached form and bring it to your child’s school on the first day they are back in the school building. A printable PDF file is available in ten languages on our COVID Testing page.

Can my child receive an exemption from weekly random testing?

Exemptions will only be granted in certain limited cases:

  • For students who need a medical exemption, due to a health condition that would make it unsafe to undergo testing (e.g., facial trauma, nasal surgery), you will be able to submit a separate form for consideration. This form must be signed by a physician and you must submit medical documentation from a health care provider.
  • For students with disabilities who cannot be safely tested in school due to the nature of their disability, you will be able to submit a separate request for an exemption.
  • The exemption forms will be available in English on Monday, November 30 at on our COVID Testing page. Translations will be available shortly thereafter.

What happens if I don’t submit consent?

You must submit consent by the day that your child returns to your school building; this is the due date, and we need all students to participate.

  • If your child comes to school on their first day back for in-person instruction without a consent form on file, principals and school staff will contact you to obtain consent.
  • After that, students without consent forms on file, who do not have a medical or disability-based exemption submitted, must be moved to fully remote instruction. More information on exemptions will be provided by your child’s school principal this week.

What if my child’s school is in an Orange or Red Zone?

  • As of now, schools in Orange Zones remain closed for in-person learning. We are working with the State to develop a plan to reopen buildings in Orange Zones as soon as possible.
  • We will share information as soon as a plan is confirmed with the State of New York.
  • There are currently no Red Zones in New York City, but per the State, school buildings in Red Zones would also be closed.

As always, I am grateful for your flexibility and patience as we continue our journey together through this unprecedented year. All of us at the DOE are focused on a strong, supportive education for your child every day—no matter where they are learning—and that will never change. 

We look forward to welcoming students back into school buildings in the coming weeks.

November 24, 2020: Remote Learning and COVID-19 Testing Consent

American Sign Language (video)

Dear Families,

As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to express how grateful I am for your patience and partnership, and how honored I am to serve you and your children. We have been through so much together this year. But despite these trying times, we have shown the nation, and the world, that New York City is not just a sprawling metropolis, but a community of good, caring people who—when times are difficult—come together to protect and support each other.

Closing all our school buildings to in-person learning for the second time this year has been one of the most painful actions I have had to take as Schools Chancellor. I know it’s disappointing for the hundreds of thousands of students who were thrilled to be back in classrooms learning face-to-face with their teachers and classmates. It is equally hard on adults, who have been forced to make more adjustments to their schedules and lives. However, this is a temporary closure, and we will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. You and your family are part of this effort—because it will take all of us to once again drive COVID-19 rates down so we can reopen our doors to teaching and learning.

The increasing levels of COVID-19 infection overall in the city are very concerning, and we must strengthen precautions further for our school communities. Therefore, no student will be permitted to return to the building without a signed consent form for in-school testing. Your consent must be submitted by the first day your child resumes in-person learning. If you have already provided consent via NYCSA or a paper form, we encourage you to submit it again to ensure we have the most up to date form on file. You can find instructions on easy ways to submit consent below.

In the meantime, we have pulled together some resources to help you and your children get the most out of fully remote learning. In this Update for Families, you will find information on:

  • devices for remote learning 
  • attendance requirements for remote instruction 
  • grading in the 2020-21 school year 
  • how to provide consent for in-school testing (when blended learning resumes) 

I also want to remind you that the ninth annual Big Apple Awards, honoring outstanding teachers and college and career counselors, recently kicked off. This year, it feels especially important to honor the teachers or counselors who have made a difference in your child’s life. Nominate an educator by January 10, 2021 by visiting the Big Apple Awards webpage.

And a quick reminder for our high school families that the Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department have cancelled all Regents exams that had been scheduled for January 2021. No decisions have been made regarding the June and August 2021 administrations of the Regents exam, but we’ll share updates as we receive them.

As we continue to focus on immediate issues and needs in this unprecedented year, we are also thinking about the future, especially around middle and high school admissions. We are carefully examining all potential paths for admissions policies for the 2021-22 school year, and we look forward to sharing an update as soon as possible.

We have achieved so much together despite so many unsettling challenges. I want to assure you that everyone at the DOE is working tirelessly to ensure your children continue to receive the high-quality education they deserve.

On behalf of myself and everyone at the Department of Education, I wish you and your families a happy, healthy Thanksgiving.

Update for Families, November 24, 2020 

 Devices for Remote Learning 

 Do you need a device or technical support? Need help with a broken, lost, or stolen device? Call DOE’s IT Help desk at 718-935-5100 and press 5 to get assistance.

 You can also get quick help online:

For information on platforms your child may use and ways to support them during remote learning, see our Checklist for Remote Learning.

Attendance Requirements for Remote Instruction 

As we continue to adjust to all the changes this school year, one thing that remains the same is our goal to have every student learning and connecting with a caring adult from their school each day. As previously announced, for the 2020-21 school year, we are returning to more traditional definitions for attendance that track a student’s engagement in learning and instruction.

  • “Present” is defined as participating and being virtually present in a specific virtual learning environment during the scheduled school day, or participating in scheduled coursework. This may look like logging into full or small group instruction over Zoom, participating in student-teacher check-ins, completing pre-recorded lessons and coursework, or participating in group projects and discussions in an online setting.
  • “Absent” is defined as not being present during a remote class, remote lesson, or scheduled teacher-student instruction during the scheduled school day. 

Grading in the 2020-21 School Year 

Schools’ grading policies will reflect the new ways students complete their work in blended and remote learning models. This means flexibility with assignments, giving students different ways to show what they have learned.

Grades will still be based on academic progress and performance, considering students’ entire body of work in each subject. This year, each school selects its own grading scale from among several options including a scale of 1-4, a numerical scale (100 points), and an alphabetical scale (A-D).

You can find more information on grading in the recent Update for Families on Grading Policy for the 2020-21 School Year

How to Provide Consent for In-school Testing

When we return to in-person learning, students from grades 1-12 will be participating in random testing for COVID-19 through the rest of the school year. Regular testing of staff and students in schools allows us to keep our schools and broader communities healthy and safe. More than 57,000 students have already been tested across the city. The testing process is quick and easy, and entails swabbing the anterior nasal area/frontal part of the nose with a short swab (like a Q-tip). The swab length may vary, but only a small portion is inserted into the front part of the nose for five to 10 seconds.

To ensure that your child can be tested, please submit a consent form for testing. You can complete the consent in two easy ways:

  1. Online: Fill out the form online using a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA).
    • If you already have a NYCSA account linked to your student(s): Log in, click your student’s name, click “Manage Account,” and then when a dropdown menu appears, click “Consent Forms.” Read the page, and then choose the consent option at the end for your student.
    • If you do not already have a NYCSA account: You can create one right away! If you have an account creation code from your school, you can create a full account in approximately five minutes, and then provide consent as described above. If you do not have an account creation code from your school, you can still provide your consent right away by clicking “Manage Consent” under “COVID-19 Testing” and filling out your and your child’s information to provide consent.
  2. Paper form: Fill out and return the paper form to school. A printable PDF file is available in ten languages at COVID-19 Testing for Students and Staff.

Your consent must be submitted by the first day your child resumes in-person learning. If you have already provided consent for your child to be tested, we encourage you to submit it again to ensure we have the most up to date form on file.

You can find additional information about consent and testing under Frequently Asked Questions at COVID-19 Testing for Students and Staff.

November 18, 2020: Systemwide Building Closure

American Sign Language (video)

Dear Families,

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. 

All of us at the Department of Education have been so proud to witness the joy of students and educators reuniting and learning together this year. We have been the only major school district in the nation to reopen our buildings. The benefit to hundreds of thousands of students is incredible, as school communities have reconnected in person for learning, growing, and supporting one another. 

 All along, we have kept health and safety at the forefront of everything we do. That includes carefully monitoring COVID-19 transmission rates across the city and, when necessary in response to infections, temporarily closing our school buildings and transitioning students to fully remote learning. 

Given recent increases in transmission, we have reached a point in our City’s infection rate that requires all students to transition to remote learning. Beginning Thursday, November 19, all school buildings will be closed, and all learning will proceed remotely for all students, until further notice. You will hear from your principal shortly about next steps for you and your student. Please note that this is a temporary closure, and school buildings will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. 

I am sure you have many questions, and below you can find some important guidance to provide some answers. As always, we are committed to academic excellence, community-building, and social-emotional support for your child—no matter where they are learning. 

Devices for Remote Learning 

Do you need a device, need technical support or to fix a broken device, or are dealing with a lost or stolen device? Call DOE’s IT Help desk at 718-935-5100 and press 5 to get assistance. 

 You can also get quick help online: 

We are committed to ensuring every student is learning 5 days a week. Your child’s school will support you in remote learning if you currently don’t have a device by providing paper-based work. Contact your school for more info. 

Free Meals for Students and Families 

All families and students can continue to go to any school building between 9:00 a.m. and noon on weekdays to pick up three free grab-and-go meals. No identification or registration is necessary. Halal and kosher meals are available at some sites, which are listed at schools.nyc.gov/freemeals

From 3-5 p.m., New Yorkers of all ages can pick up free meals at 260 Community Meals sites across the city. For a list of sites, please visit schools.nyc.gov/freemeals

Learning Bridges 

Learning Bridges, the City’s free childcare program for children in 3-K through 8th grade, will continue to serve families enrolled in blended learning. We will continue to give priority to children of essential workers, as well as students in temporary housing or residing in NYCHA developments, children in foster care or receiving child welfare services, and students with disabilities. Families can learn more and apply at schools.nyc.gov/learningbridges, and new offers will be made to families weekly as seats are available. 

Early Childhood Education 

3-K and Pre-K classrooms in district schools and DOE Pre-K Centers will be closed. If your child attends a program in a community-based center that is not located in a public school, or attends a family childcare program that is part of a DOE network, it will remain open. If you are not sure which type of program your child attends or have questions about your child’s services, please contact your program directly. Strong supports are in place to ensure that these sites can continue operating safely. 

Although we are temporarily shifting to fully remote teaching and learning for all students, if you have recently elected to enroll your child in blended learning, your child will be able to begin in-person learning after we reopen. I know that for many of you, this decision to temporarily close school buildings that we recently opened up will be disappointing, and I understand. But by confronting these challenges together, we can continue to fight back against COVID-19. And I am confident that before long, we will be able to safely reopen our school buildings again. 

Please remember the “Core Four”: wash your hands, wear a face covering, keep six feet of distance from others, and stay home if you’re feeling sick. These are critically important steps that all of us can take every day.

We will continue to provide updates, supporting you and everyone in the DOE family as this public health crisis continues to evolve. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s school with any questions or concerns. We are grateful for your partnership and all you do for our city.

November 2, 2020: Opting Into Blended Learning for the 2020-2021 School Year

Dear Families,

We know this year has been unlike any other​, with families juggling many complex decisions through uncertain conditions. We recognize and appreciate your family’s flexibility and resilience, alongside all students, families and school communities across the City.

Now that school buildings have re-opened and COVID-19 infection rates have stayed markedly low citywide and in our schools, we know many of you are considering having your child return to school for in-person learning. If you previously chose full-time remote learning for your child, now is your chance to opt into blended learning for the remainder of the school year! By November 15, please opt into blended learning by completing the Learning Preference Survey. Families who need additional assistance with the survey can call 311.

At this time, families will not be able to opt into blended learning after November 15.

Families that choose blended learning during this opt-in period will begin in-person during the weeks of November 30 or December 7. Your child’s school will communicate your child’s start date and in-person learning schedule with you directly.

Students who are learning in-person will participate in random testing for COVID-19 throughout the school year. Regular testing of staff and students in schools allows us to keep our schools and broader communities healthy and safe. Testing is easy, quick, and safe; this test is a short, small swab (like a Q-tip) that goes just in the front of the nose. To ensure that your child can be tested, please submit a consent form for testing. You can complete the consent in two ways:

  1. Online: Fill out the form online using a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA). Go to mystudent.nyc 
    • If you already have a NYCSA account linked to your student(s): Log in, click your student’s name, click “Manage Account,” and then when a dropdown menu appears, click “Consent Forms.” Read the page, and then choose the consent option at the end for your student.
    • If you do not already have a NYCSA account: You can create one right away! If you have an account creation code from your school, you can create a full account in approximately five minutes, and then provide consent as described above. If you do not have an account creation code from your school, you can still provide your consent right away by clicking “Manage Consent” under “COVID-19 Testing” and filling out your and your child’s information to provide consent.
  1. Paper Form: Fill out and return the paper form to school. A printable PDF file is available in ten languages at schools.nyc.gov/covidtesting.

You can find additional information about consent and testing under Frequently Asked Questions at on our Covid Testing page.

We know that family circumstances may change, and we are committed to providing flexibility to families who need to transition to remote learning at any point during the school year for any reason. Families can use the same Learning Preference Survey to opt into remote learning at any time.

For families that choose blended learning, we are excited to welcome you back to our school buildings for an exciting year of in-person learning. And to all families, thank you again for your partnership as we work to provide a best-in-class educational experience for our students, regardless of how they are learning this school year.

October 26, 2020: Grading Policy for the 2020-2021 School Year

Dear Families,

Over the past month, I’ve been visiting schools throughout the city and have felt such a strong sense of community both in-person and virtually. I’ve been especially proud to see our schools promoting safe and healthy learning environments—both indoors and outdoors. In every class I see, students and staff members have been diligent about protecting one another’s health and safety, wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and more. Whether your child is learning in school for part of the week or fully remotely, ensuring safe, high-quality learning experiences remains our number one priority.

As your child’s learning journey continues this year, it is critical that you have a clear picture of their progress. Grades provide a common language for understanding and communicating with your child’s teacher(s) about their strengths and areas for growth. However, given the challenges we have been navigating together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have recognized the need to update our grading policy. In this letter, I will share information about the grading policy for the 2020-21 school year.

Please note that our policy reflects feedback from school communities, school leaders, and many other stakeholders across the city. We have heard loud and clear that as students continue to adapt to remote and blended learning, our grading policy must also evolve to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of our students. The 2020-21 grading policy aims to provide you with a clear picture of your child’s progress while honoring each individual student’s experience adapting to new ways of learning.

What You Need to Know About Grading in the 2020-21 School Year 

Here are key elements of this year’s grading policy: 

  • Student grades will still be based on academic progress and performance, considering students’ entire body of work in each subject. Grades reflect students’ level of understanding and skills in a subject as of a specific point in time. 
  • This year, each school selects its own grading scale from among several options. Examples of common grading scales include the 1-4 scale, the numerical scale (100 points), and the alphabetical scale (A-D). 
  • Schools’ grading policies will reflect the new ways students complete their work in blended and remote learning models. This means flexibility with assignments, giving students different ways to show what they have learned, and more. 
  • Families have flexibility in determining how passing final grades are reflected on student records. This is an option for families who prefer to have their child’s performance reflected more generally (such as “Pass” instead of a numerical grade) as they continue to adapt to blended and remote learning.
  • Additionally, students will not receive failing grades if they have not yet met the learning outcomes for their courses; instead, they will receive another mark (“needs improvement” or “course in progress,” depending on grade level) and will be provided with additional time and support to ensure they can master course concepts and earn credit as appropriate.
  • While students must continue to participate in remote and blended learning each day, attendance will not be a factor in student grades. Attending school, participating in class, and demonstrating understanding are all essential components of student learning, and school communities must make every effort to ensure that students attend school, with a goal of every student, every day.

Summary of Key Components of Grading Policy in 2020-21 

Grade(s) Grading Policy Summary
3K & Pre-K No change because students do not receive report cards or grades.
K – 5th Schools select their grading scales for marking period and final grades. Students will receive grades of “needs improvement” (N) in place of failing grades. Parents/guardians may choose to have any passing grade updated to a passing grade of “meets standards” (MT).
6th – 8th Schools select their grading scales for marking period and final grades. Students will receive grades of “course in progress” (NX) in place of failing grades. Parents/guardians may choose to have any passing grade updated to “pass” (P). Grades of “P” will not be factored into students’ GPAs.
9th – 12th Schools select their grading scales for marking period and final grades. Students will receive grades of “course in progress” (NX) in place of failing grades. Parents/guardians may choose to have any passing grade updated to a passing grade of “credit” (CR). Grades of “CR” will not be factored into students’ GPAs.

If your middle or high school student receives a “course in progress” grade, their school will support them in continuing with their learning beyond the end of the term, as appropriate for the grade level and subject area. Teachers will target instruction to the individual needs of each student. Together, this will help your student make progress toward the learning outcomes for their courses. 

If You Need More Information 

You should reach out to your child’s teacher or principal for more information about your child’s progress and your school’s expectations and scales for grading. When your child’s school issues report cards, your child’s grades will also appear in your New York City Schools Account (NYCSA). If you do not have a New York City Schools Account, visit our NYSCA page  or contact your child’s school for more information. 

Blended Learning Opt-In Period: November 2 – 15, 2020 

Please also note that fully remote families will soon have the option to opt-in to blended learning, meaning that students will learn in the school building for part of the week, and remotely at home the rest of the week. From Monday, November 2 through Sunday, November 15, families will have the option to fill out a form indicating their wish to change learning preferences. Students who change from remote to blended will begin in-person between the weeks of November 30 and December 7, and will be informed by their school their start date and schedule. Schools will make every effort to accommodate these requests based on programming and space capacity. 

As always, we are grateful for your partnership in your child’s education. We remain focused on delivering a strong, supportive, engaging learning experience for your student, no matter where they are learning.

Our new grading policy honors their hard work—and yours—during this unprecedented time. We will continue to support you and your child every step of the way. 

Update for Families in Impacted ZIP Codes 

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. 

You and all your fellow New Yorkers have done an incredible job fighting COVID-19 since March. However, as you likely are aware, some areas of the city have been experiencing elevated rates of COVID-19 transmission. These areas cover nine zip codes in Brooklyn and Queens, including the zip code where your child’s school is located.

Out of an abundance of caution, and to keep you and your family safe, yesterday Mayor de Blasio announced a plan to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in these areas. This plan includes closing all school buildings in these zip codes beginning Tuesday, October 6 for at least a two-week period. This means your child’s school is planning to transition to fully remote teaching and learning beginning this Tuesday, October 6 for a two-week period. You will hear important next steps from your principal today. The city is taking these steps to ensure we can contain spread of the coronavirus across our communities. When transmission rates decrease to under 3%, then your child’s school can reopen—as soon as Wednesday, October 21. If the transmission rates persist above 3% in these zip codes, the Mayor has proposed keeping school buildings closed and other precautions in place for a longer duration. We will proactively provide you with updates on reopening.

It is important to note that there is no evidence that schools in these zip codes have had an increase in positive cases, nor is there any indication that higher transmission rates in these neighborhoods is due to school buildings being open. The step to close school buildings is one of many steps being taken to help reduce transmission in these specific zip codes.

The nine zip codes, which collectively are home to approximately 100 DOE school buildings, are: 

Neighborhood ZIP
Edgemere/Far Rockaway 11691
Borough Park 11219
Gravesend/Homecrest 11223
Midwood 11230
Bensonhurst/Mapleton 11204
Flatlands/Midwood 11210
Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/ Sheepshead Bay 11229
Kew Gardens 11415
Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok 11367

 I know that for many of you, this decision to temporarily close school buildings that we just opened up will be disappointing, and I understand. I saw the joy of students and educators reuniting in person over the last two weeks. But please know that we are here to support your student and your school in this transition. We’ll take all necessary steps to ensure teachers can teach dynamically and effectively while remote. We are committed to academic excellence for your child—no matter where they are learning.

The Mayor and I consider your family’s health and safety, and that of everyone in your school community, to be our top priority, and we have pledged to keep it at the forefront of everything we do. I know that working together, we can continue to fight back against COVID-19. 

It’s up to all of us, no matter where we are, to continue to take the steps we know are so important in preventing the spread of this virus. Remember the “Core Four”: wash your hands, wear a face covering, keep six feet of distance from others, and stay home if you’re feeling sick. These are critically important steps that all of us can take every day.

We will continue to communicate additional information and key details about this remote transition in the coming days. No matter what, we will continue to unequivocally support you and everyone in the DOE family as this public health crisis continues to evolve. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s school with any questions or concerns.

September 29, 2020: Update for Families on COVID-19 Testing 

Letter signed by:

  • Dave A. Chokshi, MD, MSc Commissioner, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Ted Long, MD, MHS Executive Director, NYC Test & Trace Corps
  • Richard A. Carranza, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education

We are so excited to welcome you back into our school building! As we begin this new school year, the health and safety of all students and staff remains our top concern. That’s why many things in our school buildings will look different this year, from face masks to physical distancing in every classroom to disinfecting every school, every night. We are taking all of these steps to ensure that our schools remain safe, our students and staff stay healthy, and that you feel confident sending your children for in-person learning.

Today we are writing to ask for your help with another important element of our health and safety work: testing our students and staff for COVID-19. Keeping school buildings open depends on helping us stay aware of and take immediate action to address COVID-19 concerns in our buildings. That’s why we have partnered with NYC Health + Hospitals, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the NYC Test & Trace Corps to arrange for testing of NYC DOE students and staff for COVID-19 infection.

Our testing partners will test a randomly selected group of staff and students in schools once per month. The number of children and staff to be tested each month will depend on the size of the school population. In addition to the random monthly testing, we are also working hard to offer in-school testing later this year for students who are showing symptoms of COVID-19, or are a confirmed close contact of someone in the school who has tested positive. The test is easy, quick, and safe. Instead of the “long swab” that goes in the back of the nose, this test is a short, small swab (like a Q-Tip) that goes just in the front of the nose. Later this school year, it is possible that tests will be administered by collecting a small amount of saliva (spit). 

In order for us to administer a COVID-19 test to your child, we need your consent. We strongly encourage you to sign and return the consent form, available on the Covid-19 Testing page, as soon as possible.

Monthly testing of randomly selected staff and students is a vital part of our efforts to prevent COVID-19 transmission in our buildings, because it helps identify positive COVID-19 cases when symptoms are not present. As with other health and safety measures we are requiring to keep our staff and students safe, the success of this testing initiative relies on the partnership and cooperation of staff and students.  

While consent to testing is not mandatory, providing our testing partners with a sufficient monthly sample size to identify the prevalence of COVID-19 is critical in our ongoing fight against this virus and to ensure we can keep school communities in school buildings for in-person learning. For the safety of our school community, students who do not have consent forms on file may be required to learn remotely if we do not receive forms from enough students in the school. 

We want to assure you that if your child is selected for testing but is uncomfortable or unable to be tested, we will not test your child and will work with you to address any concerns so that they can participate in future testing. We are focused on making this a brief, and gentle experience for our students, led by trained testers. 

  • If your child is tested, we will let you know they were tested and when and how you will receive the results, which will typically be provided within 48-72 hours.
  • We know you likely have questions, and we are sharing more information on the Frequently Asked Questions page. Please review this with your child.
  • Testing in schools will begin in October. You can reach out to your school at any time with any questions or concerns.
  • We deeply appreciate your partnership and your commitment to keeping your school community safe and healthy.

September 25, 2020: Take the Census

As our buildings reopen and your child reconnects with their school community, we are reminded of how much it takes from all of us to operate the largest school system in the nation. Serving each of our 1.1 million students takes an immense amount of resources, and right now the federal government isn’t coming through with the funds that our city desperately needs.

You can make a huge difference by filling out the 2020 United States Census. While the Census deadline has been temporarily extended, I still encourage families to complete it today as the final deadline has yet to be determined. It’s a short online survey to count all New Yorkers, and it only happens once every ten years. Filling it out ensures our city gets the money, power, and respect we deserve from the federal government.

Without an accurate population count, our City will lose out on billions of dollars in federal funding for our schools, but also healthcare, roads, hospitals, public transportation, and more. New York could even lose two seats in Congress.

How to Fill Out the United States Census

  • Go online to my2020census.gov.
  • Filling it out takes five minutes or less.
  • The Census is available online in 15 languages.
  • In addition, you can complete your census over the phone by calling 844-330-2020.

The Census is Safe and Private

  • The Census counts all residents, regardless of citizenship or immigration status—therefore, the Census does not include a citizenship question.
  • Even if you are undocumented, filling out the Census will not put you or your family at risk.
  • Census responses are private, protected by federal law, kept strictly confidential, and can never be used against you by a court, government agency, law enforcement authorities, or third parties like a business or your landlord.

Too much is at stake for us to be undercounted, so please fill out the Census if you have not already done so, and encourage your friends and family members to do so as well! 

Making sure that all New Yorkers are counted is so important to guarantee a bright future for our city and our children

September 21, 2020: Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year

Dear Families, 

It is my pleasure to welcome you and your children to the 2020–21 school year! We could not have achieved this milestone without every one of you. I am grateful for your support and your faith in our public schools. So many New Yorkers have worked around the clock to accomplish this shared goal: the safe return of our students, teachers, and school staff to classroom and remote learning.

There is no doubt this has been a challenging seven months, but we should feel proud of the outstanding job New Yorkers have done to fight COVID-19. Our actions have led to weeks of very low infection rates citywide. However, the virus is still active in our city, state, and country. We know that there will be cases of COVID-19 this fall. The good news is we are prepared to fight this virus while holding true to our mission—ensuring that all our students continue to learn and thrive.

To carry this out, we have put in place strict health and safety protocols and created a COVID-19 Response Situation Room for DOE principals, which serves as a “one-stop shop” for school leaders in handling all COVID-19 cases in schools. When principals learn of a potential COVID-19 case in their school, they call the Situation Room to report it, and medical, public health, and education staff are on hand and readily available to support principals through responding to it. Principals or their designees call the Situation Room, which helps to handle everything from there - including quickly communicating vital updates for principals to share with their school communities.

We are confident in our ability to provide your children with the healthy, safe, engaging, high-quality education you expect. We will continue to be transparent and keep you informed. In this Update for Families, I am happy to share the latest information on:

  • How to complete daily health screenings for your child, 
  • Where to get tested for COVID-19, 
  • How to stay informed on COVID-19 cases in your school community, and 
  • What transportation to and from school looks like 

In addition, to help you find key information I have shared in past updates, we have included quick links to DOE resources on: 

  • Health and safety measures in our schools, 
  • What teaching and learning looks like this year, and 
  • School schedules for elementary, middle, and high schools 

As always, all information regarding back to school can be found on our Return to School pages. If you have additional questions, please contact your principal. You can find information about your child’s school, including principal contact information, on our website using Find a School.

You have heard me say that September is my favorite month, and that is especially true this year. Return to School 2020 took a team effort, thousands of hours of work, and attention to countless details to get where we are today. I could not be prouder of our families, students, educators, and everyone who works in and for our schools.

As we start the new school year together, I can assure you that the largest school system in the nation is well prepared and up to the task. Please know that we are here for you. Your teachers and principals are here for you. And, together, we will achieve a remarkable year of learning. 

How to Complete Daily Health Screenings for Your Child

As always, the health and safety of our students, families, and school staff remain our top priority. We have spent months preparing for the safe reopening of our schools; we know they are like home for so many of us and provide the social-emotional support and learning our children need.

We all have a part to play in keeping our school communities safe. We are asking you to do your part by making sure your children have completed their health screenings (including temperature checks) before they enter school buildings. We encourage you to use our Online Health Screening Tool each day that your child is scheduled to attend in-person learning. 

  • When you do the screening at home, you or your child just need to provide the results of the screening either by showing the email on a smartphone or a printout of the results before entering the school building. All students will receive an oral thermometer in their first week of in-person instruction in case they need one to check their temperature.
  • If you or your child is not able to pre-screen using the online tool, you may use the Paper Health Screening Questionnaire and have your child bring the completed form to school and show it upon entry. Your school will provide you with printed copies so you can complete the questionnaire at home.
  • If you or your child forgets or is unable to pre-screen, someone will be available at your school's entrance to assist your child in completing the form and checking your child’s temperature.
  • In order to keep everyone healthy and slow the spread of COVID-19, students will not be able to attend in-person classes if they have:
    • Experienced any symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever of 100.0 degrees F or greater, a new cough, new loss of taste or smell, or shortness of breath within the past 10 days; 
    • Received a positive result from a COVID-19 test that tested saliva or used a nose or throat swab (not a blood test) in the past 10 days; 
    • Been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days; or 
    • Traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days.

As always, please keep your child home if they are sick.

Where to Get Tested for COVID-19

It’s up to all of us to keep our school communities and families safe by wearing face coverings, keeping our distance, washing hands frequently, and getting tested!

  • Help us keep our schools open and school communities healthy by getting tested for COVID-19. It’s safe, free, and easy for everyone, regardless of immigration or insurance status.
  • Students in 3K through twelfth grade can get priority testing at 22 Health + Hospitals testing sites throughout the school year.
  • Beginning in early October, we will begin testing a random sampling of students and staff in every school. This is essential to keeping your family and school community healthy and safe. We’ll be sharing much more information and a link to a parent/guardian consent form in our next family update. 

How to Stay Informed on Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Your School Community

It’s important that your school is able to reach you to share crucial information quickly, including alerts about confirmed COVID-19 cases in your child’s school. Please sign up for a NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) so we can contact you via phone, email, or text message.

  • With NYCSA, you can access your child’s grades, test scores, schedules, transportation information, and more—from anywhere, and in all nine standard DOE language translations.
  • In order to see your child’s records, request an Account Creation Code from your school. I encourage you to keep your contact information up to date, so your school can get in touch with you in the event of an emergency. 
    • If you don’t have an account, sign up today. It only takes five minutes! 

What Transportation to and from School Will Look Like

Whether traveling by bus, public transportation, or other means, students will be expected to wear masks and practice social distancing, just as they will in and around their school. Here are some details about different modes of transportation:

Busing

Following guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), buses transporting students will be limited to 25 percent of capacity to ensure safe social distancing. Seating on the bus will be clearly marked to guide students to where they can and cannot sit.

  • If students do not have a face covering, the bus operator will provide one. Drivers and attendants will also wear face coverings as well as gloves. Before sending children on a bus, family members should screen their children’s health at home, including temperature checks, to make certain they are well enough to board a bus and attend school. 
  • Buses will operate with the windows open whenever possible and with the air in the non-recirculating mode.
  • Upon arrival at a destination where passengers will be exiting the bus, students will be directed to exit one row at a time to maintain a safe social distance.
  • Each night, all school transportation vehicles will be cleaned and disinfected following CDC protocols.

Public Transportation and Other Alternatives

Schools will provide free MetroCards to students and families engaged in blended learning for travel to and from school.

  • When using public transportation, students will be expected to follow the same social distancing and face covering protocols as all New Yorkers.
  • The MTA has marked all stations with social distancing guidance and offers free masks at stations across the city. In addition, the NYPD conducts frequent sweeps of stations and subway cars to enforce distancing and mask wearing.

Where to Find Information

Health and Safety Measures in Schools

To learn more about ventilation and other building safety measures, outdoor learning, food services in schools, testing and tracing, and personal health measures all schools are taking to keep your children safe, visit schools.nyc.gov/RTShealthsafety

What Teaching and Learning Looks Like This Year

To learn more about blended learning supports, social-emotional learning and mental health, supports for multilingual/English language learners, students with disabilities, students in temporary housing and foster care, students who are 21 or older, and students in early childhood programs, visit schools.nyc.gov/RTSteachinglearning.

School Schedules for Elementary, Middle, and High Schools

To learn more about programming models, sibling schedules, and what happens when students come to school on the wrong day during blended learning, visit schools.nyc.gov/RTSschedules 

September 18, 2020: Update on Start of In-person Learning Dates

Dear Families,

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I am writing to you today with an important update on the start of school.

As you know, for months we have been preparing to reopen our school buildings. Thanks to all of you and everything you have done over the last six months, the city’s low infection rate makes us the only major city in the country able to welcome our children back to our schools for in-person learning.

Just as you have done everything necessary to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate, we have made a pledge to you that we would put health and safety first. That is what we have done – inspecting tens of thousands of classrooms for proper ventilation; distributing millions of masks, bottles of hand sanitizers and cases of cleaning supplies; prioritizing students and staff for expedited COVID-19 testing; developing a swift testing, quarantine, and tracing protocol anytime we might see COVID-19 activity in our schools; and more.

We must continue living up to that pledge as we get closer to opening our buildings, knowing that this year demands more supplies, more staff, more space, more inspections, and more training. To do that, we have some new updates on the school calendar to announce.

All students will still begin full-time instruction on Monday, September 21. School buildings will reopen to our students in blended learning (in-person in schools some days of the week, and remotely from home other days of the week) on a phased basis, detailed below. Here is the updated calendar for the start of the 2020-21 school year:

  • Children enrolled in fully remote programs will still begin full-day instruction on Monday, September 21.
  • Children in blended learning (in-person in schools some days of the week, and remotely from home other days of the week) will be learning remotely beginning Monday, September 21 until their in-person start date as outlined below. Please reach out to your child’s school if you have questions about when your child should report according to their blended learning schedule.
Blended Learning Students Enrolled In: In-Person Learning Begins On:
Grades 3K and Pre-K (in any school type/grade configuration)Monday 9/21
District 75 (all grades)Monday 9/21
Elementary Schools (K-5 and K-8) (includes students in grades 6-8 in K-8 Schools) Tuesday 9/29
Middle Schools (Grades 6-8) 
High Schools (Grades 9-12) 
Secondary Schools (Grades 6-12) 
Transfer Schools, Adult Education, Evening Schools, Alternate Learning Centers
Thursday 10/1
K-2 and K-3 Schools Tuesday 9/29
K-12 Schools Tuesday 9/29

I know this is a last-minute change. This crisis has demanded so much flexibility and patience from you and your children since the beginning, and I am in awe of how you have risen to meet the challenges and uncertainty this pandemic has presented. Everything we do is to try to provide stability and certainty, while protecting the health and safety of our city.

I am deeply grateful every day for each of you, and the commitment you have shown to your children and this city.

So many of you have told us how eager you are to reconnect with your school communities – I know I am excited for that as well. We believe this extra time will help make sure that all schools and all educators are in the best position to deliver a strong, safe, and supportive environment for teaching and learning to take place.

I always say that New York City has the best students, staff, and families in the world, and nothing will ever change that—no matter when, where, and how we are learning.

Thank you for everything you do.

September 14, 2020:Update on Calendar, Ventilation Reports and Covid-19 Testing

Dear Families,

Even in the face of so much change, September is still the most exciting time of year. There’s a back-to-school energy in the air as all over the city, educators, students, and families are getting ready for the school year to begin.

And all of us at the Department of Education have been busy too. In this Reopening Update for Families, I am happy to share important information on:

  • The 2020–21 School Calendar
  • Ensuring your school’s ventilation is in good working order 
  • How to get tested for COVID-19 before the school year begins 
  • How to stay informed on confirmed COVID-19 cases in your school community

As we prepare for the new school year, I want to reassure you that we are leaving no stone unturned to protect our students, educators, and families. That is why we are doubling down on all our health and safety protocols—from ventilation to face coverings, physical distancing, nightly cleaning, and frequent hand washing/sanitizing. It’s why we will make all information available to the public.

As always, all information regarding back to school can be found on our Return to School pages. If you have additional questions regarding the information in this letter, please contact your principal. You can find the page for your child’s school on our website using Find a School. Principal information is on each school’s web page in the “School Contacts and Information” section.

I also want to remind you about an important way you can help protect your school community regarding travel. Several states are still seeing high transmission rates of COVID-19 - you can find the list at ny.gov/traveladvisory. All New Yorkers are strongly advised to avoid travel to these states, but if you must travel to one of these areas, you will have to fill out the New York State Traveler Health Form and quarantine for 14 days when you return to New York City—it’s required by New York State. For more information on COVID-19 testing, tracing, and how to safely quarantine, visit testandtrace.nyc.

These next few days are about getting everything ready for the incredible school year that lies ahead. We look forward to welcoming your child back for partial-day instructional orientation starting September 16, and for full-day instruction for both blended learning and remote learning on September 21!

School Calendar

We recently announced that the school year will begin for students on Wednesday, September 16 with a part-time instructional orientation period. Full-time learning will begin on Monday, September 21. I am pleased today to share with you a calendar for the full 2020-21 school year.

There are some important differences for this school year that we want to highlight:

  • September 16–18 will be remote partial instructional days for students focused on getting your child ready for learning this year. All students are expected to participate and engage. Your school will confirm your child’s exact schedule and provide log-in instruction for these three days.
  • September 21 is the first full-time day of teaching and learning for students in both fully remote and blended learning (in which they are learning in school buildings for part of the week, and remotely for the rest of the week). 
  • November 3, Election Day, will be a fully remote learning day for all students. In past years, students did not attend school on Election Day. 
  • On “snow days” - or days in which school buildings are closed due to an emergency - all students and families should plan on participating in remote learning.

Please reach out to your school with any questions you may have about the school calendar for this year.

Ventilation Inspections

Ensuring proper ventilation is an important part of our health and safety protocols. Proper ventilation can reduce the level of viruses, including COVID-19, inside buildings. According to our City and federal public health experts, a room is safe when air is able to flow in and out - whether through an open window or mechanical means, such as HVAC systems or air handlers. I am pleased to report that we have completed ventilation inspections in every New York City public school building.

Here are our findings:

  • Of over 64,000 classrooms inspected, 96 percent have been confirmed to have ventilation that meets City health and safety standards. 
  • Where a ventilation issue was identified, the DOE is swiftly implementing repairs. Many issues have already been addressed and fixed. 
  • Per federal guidance, we are also inspecting and ensuring proper ventilation in restrooms, kitchens, and other areas used by students and staff.
  • Any rooms with ventilation issues that haven’t been repaired before the first full-time day of teaching and learning on September 21 will not be used by staff or students. 

How to Get Tested for COVID-19 Before the School Year Begins

It’s up to all of us to keep our school communities and families safe by wearing face coverings, keeping our distance, washing hands frequently, and getting tested! Help us keep our schools open and school communities healthy by getting tested for COVID-19 before buildings reopen for learning. It’s safe, free, and easy for everyone, regardless of immigration or insurance status.

How to Stay Informed on Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Your School Community

It’s important that your school can reach you to share crucial information quickly, including alerts about confirmed COVID-19 cases in your child’s school. Please sign up for a NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) so we can contact you via phone, email, or text message. With NYCSA, you can access your child’s grades, test scores, schedules, transportation information, and more—from anywhere, and in all nine standard DOE language translations. In order to see your child’s records, request an Account Creation Code from your school. I encourage you to keep your contact information up to date, so your school can get in touch with you in the event of an emergency.

  • If you don’t have an account, sign up today. It only takes five minutes!

September 4, 2020: Reopening Update for Families

Dear Families,

As we approach the start of the school year, everyone at the New York City Department of Education is laser-focused on delivering a high-quality education that puts your child’s health, safety, and emotional well being first this fall. An education that creates a new standard of excellence for learning from any location. An education that will prepare your children to thrive—today, tomorrow, next year, and for the rest of their lives.

I want to share with you that full-day learning for all students will begin on Monday, September 21. A few days before that, beginning on Wednesday, September 16 through Friday, September 18, all students and teachers will engage remotely for a partial-day instructional transition and orientation to help students reconnect to school. Taking this time will help ensure all children are ready to learn and succeed.

In this letter, we include updates on what that teaching and learning will look like. You will find additional information on how our schools will support every student every day—whether they are participating in fully remote or blended learning (in which they are learning in school buildings for part of the week, and remotely for the rest of the week).

Read the Return to School Update for Families on the Welcome to the 2020-201 School Year page to find more information on:

  • How your child will learn at home: Live interaction and lessons with teachers, and projects that students complete on their own 
  • Who will be teaching your child in blended or fully remote learning 
  • How to stay informed on confirmed COVID-19 cases in your school community 

If you have questions regarding the information in this letter, please contact your principal. You can find the page for your child’s school on our website using Find a School. Principal information is on each school’s web page in the “School Contacts and Information” section.

You have heard me say that New York City has the best, strongest, most committed students, staff, and families anywhere. Every day, you continue to prove that true beyond any shadow of a doubt. I want to reaffirm our pledge to take absolutely every precaution to keep your children healthy and safe. And to ensure they receive the high-quality education they deserve no matter how or where they are learning.

I am so excited to welcome all our children and educators back to their school communities soon!

How Will My Child Learn at Home?

Whether learning remotely from home part of the week or every day, students will receive remote instruction in two different ways: live interaction (sometimes referred to as “synchronous instruction”) with teachers, and independent learning (sometimes referred to as “asynchronous instruction”), which includes assignments, projects, or recorded video lessons. Let us explain what that means:

Live interaction means that your student will interact with their teacher on video, phone, live chat, virtual app, or another digital mode in real time. The teacher may be interacting with the whole class, small groups, or individual students. It can be done over Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or other DOE-approved video or phone conferencing or digital platforms. It includes:

  • Class Lessons; 
  • Office Hours to connecting in real time with teachers to get individual or small group help with instruction or instructional activities; 
  • Social-emotional wellness activities such as sharing circles or mindfulness exercises; or 
  • Feedback discussions with students and families about their work and progress via video or phone. 
  • Other “live participation” activities, such as chat, offered by the digital platform used by educators during lessons. 

At the beginning of the school year, here are the target amounts we are asking all schools to engage their students in live interaction and instruction each day:

  • Students in 3-K and Pre-K programs: up to 30 minutes 
  • Students in kindergarten through grade 2: 65 to 95 minutes 
  • Students in grades 3–5: 90 to 110 minutes 
  • Middle school students in grades 6–8: 80 to 100 minutes 
  • High school students in grades 9–12: 100 to 120 minutes 

The amount of time devoted to live instruction will increase each month for all grades as the school year progresses to allow students and teachers to gradually transition. Scheduled times will be posted so that students and staff alike can plan for engagement.

Independent learning means your student will work on their own with assignments, projects, and materials provided by their teachers. This might include:

  • Video lessons or presentations recorded previously 
  • Activities, assignments or tasks that build on lessons from previous days 
  • Collaborative projects and assignments with classmates 
  • Discussion boards and conversation, feedback, or guidance from teachers over email

Who Will Be Teaching My Child?

Your child will have a high-quality educator leading their education, no matter where they’re learning. Instruction may look a little bit different in every school, reflecting the specific needs of the school community, but here is what you can generally expect:

For Students in Blended Learning

Blended learning refers to a combination of on-site, in-person instruction at the school some days of the week, and remote instruction at home on remaining days.

Your child may have different teachers for on-site and remote learning. Those teachers will work closely together in pairs or teams to create meaningful and connected learning experiences. For example, a student may begin a project in person and then continue to work on it while remote.

During the remote portion of blended learning, your child will regularly be with the same group of students with whom they attend in person.

For Students in Full-Time Remote Learning

Where possible, students engaging in full-time remote learning will be taught by teachers from their own school. Teachers will regularly meet with the same group of students on specific days. 

How to Stay Informed on Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Your School Community

It’s important that your school can reach you to share crucial information quickly, including alerts about confirmed COVID-19 cases in your child’s school. Please sign up for a NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) so we can contact you via phone, email, or text message. With NYCSA, you can access your child’s grades, test scores, schedules, transportation information, and more—from anywhere, and in all nine standard DOE language translations.

If you don’t have an account, sign up today . It only takes five minutes! 

August 17, 2020: Updates for Families

Dear Families,

In good times and in challenging times, I know that you want the best for your children. You want them to be safe, healthy, and happy. And you want them to always be learning, growing, and getting ready to take on the world. Our schools play such an important role in that, especially now, when the children of our city have been through so much.

For us, health and safety always lead the way. Our vision for the fall is a safe, strong, and supportive learning environment and an excellent education for every one of our students. Schools will be in session and students will be learning five days per week—no matter where they are.

We know a lot more now about how the learning experience is going to work. In this week’s Reopening Update for Families, you will find:

  • The latest health and safety information, including on ventilation, school nurses, and testing and tracing in schools 
  • How to stay informed on confirmed COVID-19 cases in your school community 
  • How families can change their children’s learning preference to/from fully remote learning 
  • What happens if students attend school in-person on a day they are not scheduled to attend
  • Supports for students with Individualized Education Programs 
  • Supports for students in temporary housing and foster care 

We know that planning for the new school year isn’t easy—for you, for our educators, for school staff, and for our communities. But I believe that by working together we can start the school year strong. I want to acknowledge the tireless work of your principals and school leaders, who have been hustling all summer to be ready for the first day of school.

I also want to thank you. Your partnership has made it possible for us to consider and plan for both in-person and remote learning. Your continued investment and engagement in your school communities is a vital part of ensuring our students’ success not just during this upcoming school year but for years to come. We are privileged to serve you and your children, the young people who not long from now will be the ones leading our city.

If you have questions regarding the information in this letter, please contact your principal. You can find principal contact information by searching for your child’s school on Find a School. Principal information is on each school’s web page in the “School Contacts and Information” section. And as always, all information regarding back to school can be found at schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020.

The Latest Health and Safety Information

For school buildings to open in September and remain open, the city must see fewer than 3 percent of all COVID-19 tests come back positive on a weekly average. Since June, the city positive test rate has been between 1 and 2 percent. We have strict protocols for testing, tracing, and quarantining if there is a confirmed case in school, and we will use every effort to prevent the spread of infection in schools if a student or staff member is feeling sick or has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Many families have questions about ventilation. Our commitment is simple: if a room does not have adequate ventilation, it will not be used by students or staff. We are assessing and performing maintenance in buildings to maximize ventilation with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible. We expect maintenance to be completed by the opening of school.

Finally, this fall, every school building in New York City and all early childhood programs across the city will have access to nurses. Through a partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals, in addition to our established nursing workforce, every student will have access to a qualified nurse every day as we reopen schools safely and continue to stop the spread of COVID-19. Nurses will be in-place by the first day of school.

How to Stay Informed on Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Your School Community

When the school year begins, we want to make sure we can contact you quickly and effectively to share information, including about confirmed COVID-19 cases in your child’s school. Please sign up for a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA) so we can contact you via phone, email, or text message.

Your NYCSA account can also help you find your child’s grades, test scores, schedules, transportation information, and more— from anywhere, and in all nine standard DOE language translations. I encourage you to keep your contact information up to date, so we can get in touch with you in the event of an emergency. If you don’t have an account, sign up today at schools.nyc.gov/nycsa. It only takes five minutes!

How to Change a Child’s Learning Preference to/from Fully Remote Learning

Your school principals, in partnership with district and central administrators, are continuing to develop school-level plans for every public school in New York City. We are currently planning for around three-quarters of our students (over 700,000 students) to begin the school year in a blended learning mode. This means that they’ll learn in-person in a school building part of the school week and continue learning remotely from home for the rest of the week. The remaining families in our DOE community will begin the year in fully remote learning mode.

You can move your child into 100 percent remote learning at any time using the Learning Preference online form. Families who choose 100 percent remote learning can opt back into blended learning on a quarterly basis, beginning in November.

What Happens if Students Attend School In-Person on a Day They are Not Scheduled to Attend

Schools will work closely with families to clearly communicate which days their child will attend school in-person. The DOE encourages you to make alternate childcare arrangements and to build a plan to help ensure that your child does not arrive at school on unscheduled days. If a student arrives at school on days when they are scheduled for remote learning, your child’s school will inform you. All children attending on an unscheduled day will need to be picked up or will be sent home, depending on age and other factors. For more information on policies for students who attend school on a mistaken day, visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 .

Supports for Students with Individualized Education Programs

The DOE will provide students with disabilities access to in-person instruction during blended learning. If your child's IEP recommends related services, you will soon receive a survey where you will be asked to express your preference for in-person or remote therapy. Upon school opening, your child's school will contact you to discuss your child's specific schedule and make every effort to align your request to available services. The DOE will release additional guidance and information for families of students with disabilities shortly.

Supports for Students in Temporary Housing and Foster Care

Students in temporary housing and foster care face unique challenges as a result of COVID-19, including the shift to remote learning. We have been providing additional supports to these students, including ensuring their early receipt of remote learning devices. Any remote learning devices given to students in shelter have cellular capabilities. As possible and appropriate, students in temporary housing and foster care may also receive additional in-person instruction, depending on a school’s programming model, overall student needs, and capacity.

August 6, 2020: Update for Families on Instruction

Dear Families,

The educators and staff at your child’s school, and all of us at the DOE, continue to work around the clock to prepare for a safe and healthy return to school in September. An important part of our planning depends on you! Today I am writing with additional information and an important reminder as we head into September.

All schools are currently preparing for a blended learning model. Blended learning means that students learn part of the time in-person in school buildings, and continue their learning remotely, from home, on the remaining weekdays. Any family can also choose all-remote learning this fall, for any reason. If all-remote learning is your preference, we ask to hear from you by filling out a short web form (link below), or by calling 311, by this Friday, August 7. If you begin in blended learning, you can decide later to transition to all-remote, but to best support schools in their planning for reopening, we ask that those who have a preference for 100% remote notify us by this Friday, August 7.

Fill out a short form now if you would like to continue all-remote learning this fall.

As you consider which learning model is best for your child, I want to restate our guiding principles that apply to every student’s education: All students will be learning five days a week, and teachers will continue to deliver high-quality instruction that is culturally responsive, rigorous and developmentally appropriate for all students, in all learning settings.

We are sharing additional information below about both blended and all-remote instruction to empower you to make this choice. This builds on the information contained in the letter sent to families in late July comparing remote and blended learning, which you can find below. 

Types of Teaching and Learning

Whether your child is participating in blended learning or learning 100 percent remotely, they will receive instruction by 1) interacting live with their teachers and 2) by independently completing assignments and projects throughout the school day and week.

Teachers

Students engaged in remote learning will, for the most part, be taught by teachers from their school community. While there may be limited exceptions on a school-by-school basis, parents can expect their children to be assigned teachers from their school community when they receive their children’s full schedules before the school year begins.

Live Interaction 

Teachers will provide daily live instruction for our fully remote learners, as well as for those students participating in the blended learning model. Teachers will deliver live instruction in short intervals (15–20 consecutive minutes) throughout the school day for our youngest learners and may increase in length based on the student’s developmental stage and grade level. We will share additional information on live instruction in the coming weeks.

Posting Schedules

Schools will post class schedules and schedules for live instruction for all students—those fully remote as well as those participating in blended learning—online. You will have access to these schedules in advance so you can plan your work and family commitments. Schools will also ensure students have sufficient time for high-quality interactions with their teachers and classmates.

Direct Support

Teachers will have dedicated time every school day to engage with students and families via video conference or telephone. We encourage you to take advantage of this time to get guidance and updates related to your child’s progress and learning.

Lunch in the Classroom

In-person student lunch will be instructional time in most instances, modeled on our Breakfast in the Classroom program. In elementary schools, for example, during lunch, students will take part in learning activities that are fun, engaging, and enriching, such as interactive read-alouds, social-emotional learning, and content through music. In middle and high schools, during lunch, students will engage with a specific content area. Schools will maintain all health and safety guidelines for in-person learning and for consuming food and drink during this time.

Community Building

All students will have routines that build community, center the day, and set them up for success. This will provide all students with community- and relationship-building experiences that are an integral part of a typical school community. For example, this may consist of a daily morning meeting where the teacher engages students in activities related to social-emotional wellness and community-building, or a daily closing activity where the teacher recaps the learning for the day, and gets students prepared for the following day. Schools and teachers will share more about this as we approach the first day of school. 

Social-Emotional Support

We know that current circumstances in the pandemic have been very difficult for you and your children. Students have been isolated from their teachers, classmates, and school communities. For this reason, we will allow time for teachers, school-based staff, and students to readjust to being in school buildings and to adapt to changes. In addition, we will integrate social-emotional activities and trauma-informed care into academic subjects to the greatest extent possible throughout the day. We will also prioritize mental health supports throughout the school year.

Grading

All students must meet the same academic requirements, whether they are engaged in fully remote or blended learning. The teacher overseeing your child’s classwork is responsible for designing or selecting assessments to measure student progress. These may include projects, exams administered within or outside the online platform, portfolios, and other measures of student mastery.

There is no doubt that we have all learned a lot since March—both about the virus, and about our ability to keep learning going during this unprecedented time. That is why we won’t settle for anything but the most rigorous and engaging instructional experience for your child, in whatever learning model you choose. Your needs—along with those of your children and the staff who serve them—continue to be at the center of our back-to-school planning.

We will send more information in the coming days and weeks. As always, we encourage you to check schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 for the latest information on what the next year will bring.

Thank you for being part of the DOE family. 

August 3, 2020: Update for Families on Health and Safety Protocols

For printable translations of this letter, visit the InfoHub

Dear Families,

I hope you are safe and healthy, and finding some rest and relaxation this summer. As we are approaching the start of the 2020-21 school year, I want to share some important new information with you about health and safety protocols in your child’s school—and every school—for the upcoming year.

All schools are preparing for blended learning, during which students learn in-person in school buildings for part of the week, and continue learning remotely from home on the other days. However, any family can choose 100% remote learning for any reason. If your preference is 100% remote learning, we ask that you let us know by this Friday, August 7, so that schools have enough time to plan. Please visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 to fill out a short web form, or call 311.

In this letter you will find:

  • Criteria to Open Schools and Keep them Open 
  • What Happens if Someone Gets Sick: New Information on COVID-19 Testing and Tracing in Schools 
  • Overall Health and Safety Protocols for Every School  

Criteria to Open Schools and Keep them Open

While we continue to carefully monitor a constantly changing health landscape, one thing remains steadfast: our commitment to the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff. This priority is the foundation of all of our policy moving into September.

On July 31, the Mayor and I announced that for school buildings to open in September and remain open, on a weekly average the city must see fewer than 3% of all COVID-19 tests come back positive. Additionally, if 3% or more of New Yorkers who are tested for COVID-19 are found to have the virus after we open, school buildings will close again, and 100% of learning will be remote for every student.

Since June, we’ve hovered around 1-2%, and are working closely with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health), NYC Test + Trace, and the Mayor’s Office to prepare for a coordinated school reopening. If staff and students aren’t healthy, they can’t teach and learn, and we are doing all we can to ensure that schools remain safe and healthy for learning.

What Happens if Someone Gets Sick: New Information on COVID-19 Testing and Tracing in Schools 

In close collaboration with our expert colleagues at NYC Health, we have developed strict protocols that address prevention, precaution, and response to one or more of our students or employees having a confirmed case of COVID-19. It’s important to know that a “confirmed case” means that a parent or guardian, student, or staff member submits a positive test result from a healthcare provider or laboratory—like a City-run testing site, a private doctor, or an urgent care center—to the school.

Our protocols to keep school communities healthy include:

  • Prevention: Starting with the first day of the 2020-21 school year, if a student or staff member is feeling sick, they are required to stay home. Additionally, if their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, they will be asked to get tested.
  • Feeling Sick in School: If a student begins experiencing symptoms in school, they will be isolated and monitored by a school staff member until they are picked up by their parent or guardian. Staff members who become symptomatic at school must notify administration and immediately leave the building.
  • Testing: All school staff members are asked to get tested for COVID-19 in the days leading up to the beginning of school, and will be prioritized for expedited results at the 34 City-run testing sites. All school staff are also asked to get tested monthly during the school year. This free testing is also available for families citywide.
  • Tracing: In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case in a school, NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health will investigate to determine close contacts within the school. All students and teachers in the classroom with the confirmed case are assumed close contacts and will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure to that case. In older grades where students may travel between classes, this applies to all classes that the confirmed case was in.

If there's more than one case in a school, and it's not in the same classroom, learning will continue remotely and the school building will close for at least 24 hours while NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health investigate. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, affected classrooms or the whole building will remain closed for 14 days for quarantine.

Students will continue their learning remotely during any necessary quarantine periods.

  • Communication: Whether symptoms begin at home or in school, there will be a clear flow of information to facilitate fast action and prevent spread. If a COVID-19 case is confirmed, schools will communicate to all families and students at school.

Overall Health and Safety Protocols for Every School

Testing and tracing are part of several strict health protocols designed to keep our school communities healthy. Here are the key things that you and your family should know about NYC Department of Education (DOE) health and safety practices, policies, and protocols as we re-open our school buildings in September:

  • At all times, students and staff must wear face coverings protecting their nose and mouth while at school or on their way to school. Exceptions will be made for children who can’t wear a face covering for medical reasons, and for younger children who aren’t developmentally able to wear a face covering.
  • Students and staff must maintain six feet of physical distancing throughout the school day, anywhere on school grounds and to and from school. 
  • Schools will be cleaned throughout the day and disinfected each night, with special attention to high-touch areas. 
  • Face coverings, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies will be readily available in throughout every school. 
  • Every school will have a school-based team ready to respond in the event that there is a health concern in a school. 
  • Every school will have a designated isolation room for use in the event that a student becomes ill during the school day.

For more details on these and other policies, please visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 and click “Health and Safety” for additional information and all the latest updates.

We are approaching reopening by centering health and safety and basing our policies on the expertise of health professionals—period.

I’ve been a public school parent, teacher, and principal, and I know what it feels like to want the best possible education for your child while ensuring the health and safety of your entire family. We have collectively learned a lot since March—both about the virus, and about our ability to react and respond to it in real time. That’s why we won’t settle for anything but the strictest and most rigorous processes for coming back to school.

We will send more information in the coming days and weeks. As always—thank you for being part of the DOE family. 

Past Letters

Sign Language Interpretation

Translations

  • You can find the translations of all Chancellor Carranza's Letters to Families on the InfoHub.
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