September 21, 2020: Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year
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:
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
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
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!
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 forthese 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.
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!
Sign Language Interpretation
September 4, 2020: Reopening Update for 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
July 27, 2020: Update for Families on School Reopening from Chancellor Carranza
I hope you and your children are well and enjoying some time off this summer. September will be here before we know it, and I am writing to you today to keep you updated on the 2020–21 school year and make sure you know how to be part of the conversation. Throughout this summer, as we diligently work to clarify operations for the fall, I promise to be transparent about what we know—and what we don’t yet know.
Your Learning Options
First things first: New York City students will be learning five days a week, whether in person or at home. As previously announced, schools are planning for blended learning, in which students will be taught in school buildings for part of the week, and will continue learning remotely from home on the other days of the week. Any family can also choose all-remote learning, for any reason. We know that the majority of families want as much in-person instruction as is safely possible, and we will work to maximize it at every turn, consistent with health and safety requirements. However, if you intend to choose all-remote learning for your child and have not yet notified us, please let us know by August 7 so schools can plan accordingly. You can fill out a web form or call 311.
To enable you to make a more informed choice, we have prepared some important comparisons about what you can expect from each mode of learning, below. Families who choose all-remote instruction will be able to opt back in to blended learning on a quarterly basis throughout the school year, beginning in November.
No matter whether you are at school in-person or you are learning remotely, you and your child are still enrolled in and part of your school community. Your child’s schedule and learning experience will be fully managed by your school. The vast majority of students who participate in fully remote learning will be taught by teachers from their school. While there may be some limited exceptions on a school-by-school basis, you should expect your child to be assigned teachers from their school when they receive their full schedule before the school year begins.
As our plans continue to come together, we must be nimble. We will make adjustments as public health conditions continue to evolve.
How to Learn More
Every week, we will be posting more information about school operations to our Return to School 2020 page. Please bookmark this page and visit it frequently. On this page, you will find information on Physical Education, Arts Education, and more. We are asking for your patience and flexibility throughout this process as we work through a great deal of planning in collaboration with our teachers, principals, and school-based staff.
Your voice and feedback are essential as our work continues. We are creating many opportunities for you to discuss the year ahead with the DOE, and we hope you will get involved. We hosted our first citywide information session on July 16, and received many great suggestions from families across the City. Please join us for one of the upcoming info sessions Tuesday, July 28; Wednesday, August 12; and Thursday, August 27. You can visit our Return to School 2020 page to register and submit a question.
In addition, each school will host a parent meeting to discuss the proposed school schedule and to review planning for the year ahead, and we will be holding community and advocate round-table meetings, briefings with Community Education Council leaders and elected officials, and more.
While the world around us continues to change, our commitment to the health and safety of our students, teachers, staff, and families remains steadfast, and so does our focus on equity and excellence. We will deliver what your child needs to succeed academically, knowing the traumatic impact this crisis has had on New Yorkers of all ages. We will ensure your child feels welcome and supported in their school community, no matter what.
Thank you for continuing to share your comments and questions. I have said it before, but it’s no less true now: You are our most important partners and I am grateful for you today and every day. Please stay safe and healthy.
Comparison of Remote and Blended Learning Experiences: School Year 2020-21
|Fully Remote Learning Experience ||Blended Learning Experience |
|Fully remote instruction at home.||Combination of learning in-person at school buildings, and remote instruction at home.|
Students participate in a regular schedule of age-appropriate, standards-based remote learning from home every day.
Students go to school buildings for age-appropriate, standards-based, in-person instruction on some days; and continue their learning from home remotely on the other days of the week.
|Students will have live interaction with teachers every day. |
On in-person days, students will attend classes in their school building.
We are also working to ensure live interaction for students in blended learning on each day they are learning remotely.
|Every class will include live instruction. The amount will vary by grade, depending on what is developmentally appropriate. ||On in-person days, students will have the opportunity for whole class, small group, and individual work and collaboration with classmates and teachers. |
Students will use a DOE-approved online platform (such as iLearnNYC or Google Classroom), available in multiple languages, for lessons and submission of work.
Students will experience whole class, small group and/or individualized instruction in an online environment, as well as collaboration with classmates and teachers.
|Students will use a DOE-approved online platform (such as iLearnNYC or Google Classroom), available in multiple languages, for lessons and submission of work. |
|We will make every effort to ensure students consistently have the same instructors throughout the year. |
|We will make every effort to ensure students will be taught by a consistent set of teachers in-person and remotely, who work together throughout the year to maintain continuity and maximize learning. |
|There will be an emphasis on social-emotional learning across school communities to ensure the mental health and wellness of students and staff. ||There will be an emphasis on social-emotional learning across school communities to ensure the mental health and wellness of students and staff. |
|Students will be able to access video-recorded lessons, assignments, and tasks. |
|Students will be able to access video-recorded lessons, assignments, and tasks. |
|Teachers will regularly engage students and families to check student work, provide timely feedback, and adjust instruction as necessary, via remote learning platforms, calls, emails, video chats, etc. |
|Teachers will regularly engage students and families to check student work, provide timely feedback, and adjust instruction as necessary, in-person and via remote learning platforms, calls, emails, video chats, etc. |
|Students and families will have access to one-on-one support to help with instructional activities. ||Students and families will have access to one-on-one support to help with instructional activities. |
Visit the InfoHub for printable translations of the these letters.
July 8, 2020: Return to School
I hope you are having a restful summer so far, and staying healthy and safe. I am writing today to share important information about the fall, when school will start up again for the 2020-2021 school year. Please bookmark schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020, where more information is available, and which will be regularly updated as we get closer to reopening.
Our commitment to health and safety drives everything that we do. It drove the transition to remote learning this past March, when we knew that closing school buildings was essential to flattening the curve of COVID-19 infection across New York City. It was profoundly challenging, but you and your children handled it with unbelievable grace and effort, and school communities came together to make it work in historic fashion.
Now, almost four months later, our commitment to health and safety will drive us into the new school year. We have been through so much together, and as we look ahead to September, we see the big picture: the continuing rise in cases across the country; current guidance from City, State, and Federal health authorities; and the knowledge that as the trajectory of the virus continues to evolve, the guidance we must follow will also evolve. When it does, we have to be ready, and prepared to adapt. We’ve also received over 400,000 responses from families and students to a survey asking about preferences and concerns for the upcoming year, and your input has been critical in our planning.
Taken together, this picture demands we begin the 2020-21 school year in an unprecedented way—including new health protocols, physical distancing, and more. Make no mistake: New York City students will still be learning 5 days a week. A major difference is that we are preparing to deliver their education through a blended learning model. Blended learning means students will be taught on-site in school for part of the week, and will attend school remotely on the other days of the week.
Any family can also choose all-remote learning, for any reason. But we know that the majority of families want as much in-person instruction as is safely possible, and we will work to maximize it at every turn, consistent with health and safety requirements. We will continue to lead with the lens of equity and excellence, giving your child what they need to excel—and recognizing the ways that will be different from each of their classmates, especially in a time of crisis. We will not look away from the ways this virus has further magnified the effects of systemic racism in our communities. We will continue to explore opportunities to directly correct structural inequities—like closing the digital divide.
Our plans must be nimble so we can adjust and update as needed, as the public health landscape continues to evolve. We are also awaiting guidance from the State of New York, and we will be closely coordinating with them once it is released. All of the most up-to-date information will be available at Return to School 2020. Please remember that this guidance may change as public health conditions evolve.
In closing, I want to say that I’m excited, and I’m anxious—just like you. I know that blending in-person and remote learning feels like an improvement over the all-remote experience of the last three months, but still comes with many questions and concerns. We will work with you every step of the way to answer questions around sibling scheduling, transportation, what happens if there’s a confirmed case in a school, and more. I’m committed to doing everything I can to make this easy for you—and I will not compromise on health and safety.
I always say that New York City has the best students, families, and staff in the world—and that nothing will ever change that. A safe return to schools in the fall, and the broader safety of our whole city, will require we consistently work together as partners—DOE staff, families, and students. Together we can ensure that the 1.1 million students—your children—in the NYC public school system get the education they deserve in the safest, most supportive environments possible.
June 26, 2020: Last Day of School Letter from Chancellor Carranza
For translated versions of this letter, visit the InfoHub End of Year Letters page.
Today is the last day of the most challenging, most intense school year many of us have ever experienced. I am humbled by your efforts and so proud of your children—our brilliant students.
I know that last September feels like it was years ago, and that time in general seems to exist as “before COVID” and “after COVID.” It might be hard to remember, but before the pandemic upended our lives, we opened more pre-K Dual Language programs across the city, saw a record number of our students enrolling in college, and learned just how much our Community Schools have been changing students’ lives for the better—to name just a few of our accomplishments. All that still matters because it has real-life, positive impacts for our children.
And then, all of a sudden, it was Monday, March 16, and the coronavirus forced us to reinvent the nation’s largest school system, closing all school buildings and transitioning our 1.1 million students to remote learning. To me, the “after COVID” time is as stunningly impressive as what came before. I know this because over the past three months I have seen your children complete science experiments in your kitchens, debate the United States Constitution in Spanish from your living rooms, and join band practice and master Shakespeare on Zoom.
Your children accomplished these amazing feats all while the coronavirus was affecting you, your families, and your communities. Sadly, we lost immediate family members, and 79 Department of Education employees, to COVID-19. We will never be the same without the loved ones, friends, and colleagues who gave our lives and work meaning. We will never, ever forget a single one of them. They live on in our hearts, in our memories, and in our children.
I’ve always said that parents and families are our most important partners, but this year that was truer than ever, as you became your child’s teacher, coach, and constant presence in an uncertain world. Your lives were upended in support of a totally unconventional schedule for your children. I know how much you sacrificed for them, how concerned you are about their futures, and how deep your love for them runs. I can’t thank you enough for the effort you have made to support your child’s learning at home.
In recent weeks, you’ve kept the learning going as our city and nation have been enraged and have mourned the senseless loss of more Black lives at the hands of those whose duty it is to serve and protect. It has been a gut-wrenching time for all of us. Systemic racism endangers people of color in this country, period; and true change for New Yorkers of color must begin in our schools.
I pledge that we will take what we have learned this year and double down on addressing systemic inequalities in our system that these crises have further exposed. This includes continuing to build a strong, inclusive, just, and anti-racist educational system. I pledge that we will keep cultivating and celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of your children. I pledge to continue to be there for you and your children, not being deterred for a moment—no matter what challenges come our way. Over the next several months, we will operate Summer School, Meal Hubs, Regional Enrichment Centers, and Emergency Child Care Centers to actively serve our families. I pledge to deliver the education your children demand and deserve—an education that enables them to grow into well-educated, responsible, compassionate adults who are equipped to change the world.
I know you are rightfully anxious to know what that education will look like for your child this fall. We are working day in and day out to develop robust plans for the more than one million children who are in our seats. You will receive information in the coming weeks—including the date for the first day of school—once we receive the necessary guidance from the State and federal government that paves the way for us to finalize our plan. We also need your guidance, too! Please tell us what you want fall 2020 to look like by filling out our Return to School survey at schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 by Tuesday, June 30. This will help us meet your needs as we come back to school.
Given all we have been through together, we cannot end the school year without celebrating our students’ remarkable accomplishments. I invite you to join me; Mayor de Blasio; former NYC public school student and teacher, Lin-Manuel Miranda; and other celebrities, elected officials, and special guests on June 30 as we honor the Class of 2020 at a citywide graduation ceremony. You can watch it beginning at 7 p.m. on PIX 11 and at nycclassof2020.com. Please join us!
And one more exciting development for our students: we are thrilled to make more e-books and audiobooks for all ages available for free this summer to all DOE families, and it’s easier than ever to access them. Just use your student’s DOE login; no special signup necessary. Summer reading is so important to keep learning going and to let imaginations run free, so please visit schools.nyc.gov/summerreading to find these amazing resources. If you received a DOE-issued iPad, it will automatically have the Sora app installed to access these texts—but you don’t need a DOE-issued device to use Sora. You can download the app on any device, use your student’s DOE login, and start reading.
I have often said that we have the best students, staff, and families anywhere. This year, you have proved that true beyond any shadow of a doubt. You are helping us build a better world. We are grateful for you today and every day.
Have a wonderful summer. We can’t wait to see you in September.
June 15, 2020: Letter from the Chancellor for Voting and the 2020 Census
I hope you had a safe and restful weekend. I’d like to share information provided by our City colleagues about two important actions you can take immediately to have your voice heard about the future of our city: filling out the 2020 United States Census, and voting in the primary election on Tuesday, June 23. Here is what you need to know:
How to Vote in the June 23 Primary Election
This month, primary elections will take place across New York City. You can confirm which races are happening in your district with nyc.pollsitelocator.com. Here’s how you can vote:
Vote by Mail
- In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all New Yorkers with primary elections are able to vote by mail. You must request your mail-in ballot by Tuesday, June 16, which can be done online at nycabsentee.com , by calling 1-866-VOTE-NYC, or by mail.
- For those who are away from home, you may request that your ballot be sent to your current residence. Once you receive your ballot, you must complete and postmark it by Tuesday, June 23. For more information, visit vote.nyc
Vote in Person
- In-person voting, including early voting, is still available. You may do so during the early voting period from now until Sunday, June 21, or on Election Day, June 23.
- If possible, we recommend voting early, when crowds are expected to be smaller and lines to be shorter. To find your early voting site, Election Day site, and poll site hours, visit nyc.pollsitelocator.com
- To register to vote in future elections, update your existing registration, find your assigned poll site, check your registration status, or get more information on voting, visit voting.nyc or call 311.
How to Fill Out the United States Census
The Census is a headcount of the U.S. population that happens once every ten years. It is extremely important to fill out because it determines critical educational resources available to New York City, as well as other vital government benefits and electoral representation.
This year, filling out the Census is easier than ever. You can complete it in five minutes, in fifteen languages, online at or over the phone by calling 844-330-2020.
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, and will never be shared with NYCHA, ICE, HRA, Department of Buildings, or any other government agency—or your landlord.
You and your family need to be counted because Census results determine critical school funding, including special education grants, extra supplies, much-needed technology, and more teachers for our classrooms. It also helps to set funding for Early Learn Centers, In-School and Out-of-School Youth Programs, child care programs, and more.
The Census also serves enormously important non-education purposes. That includes funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, hospital care, affordable housing, and more. Plus, the Census affects each state’s allotment of representatives to Congress and Electoral College votes.
Now more than ever, we need to step up and help make sure all New Yorkers are counted! A complete count will bring our city the resources we need as we recover from the pandemic and its economic impact.
Civic participation is critical for a healthy democracy. I hope these resources are of use to you and your family.
June 12, 2020: Letter from the Chancellor About the Return to School 2020 Survey
Take the Return to School 2020 survey, read the letter from the Chancellor and get FAQs.
June 3, 2020: Letter From the Chancellor on Striving for Justice
Read the letter and get resources for talking to your children about race and current events
May 29, 2020: Update for June 4 and June 9: Chancellor Days
Thank you for your continued patience and flexibility in response to this ever-evolving crisis. We are writing today to share some important updates and reminders about the end of year school calendar.
We have two days coming up in June that were originally scheduled as times when students would not be in attendance. However, with the ongoing pandemic, students will be expected to participate in remote learning on both of these days:
- Thursday, June 4 was originally scheduled as a non-attendance day for all students in observance of Brooklyn / Queens Day (also known as Anniversary Day).
- Tuesday, June 9 was originally scheduled as a non-attendance day for students in schools serving grades K-8, as well as District 75 schools and programs.
On June 4, all students are expected to complete work independently as staff will be engaged in professional development. Teachers are not expected to engage students on June 4; instead, schools will set students up in advance with independent work for the day.
On June 9, students who attend a school serving grades K-8, or who attend any District 75 school, are expected to complete work independently as staff will be engaged in reorganization work. Teachers in these schools are not expected to engage students on June 9; instead, schools will set students up in advance with independent work for the day.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the school schedule for your student, please contact your school for additional information.
As a reminder, June 26 is the last day of school and a half day for all students. We will issue additional guidance to families about the end of the 2019-20 school year in the coming weeks.
Thank you again for your partnership as we continually navigate unfamiliar terrain. I often say that we have the best students, staff, and families in the world. You and your children continue to prove that, every day. Together, we will continue to weather this storm.
Please see the Summer School 2020 page for updates on this summer for families.
May 18, 2020: Update from Chancellor Carranza on MIS-C
Following up on our letter to you last week about the new health condition appearing in children in New York City and elsewhere, linked below is a Fact Sheet from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health) that provides additional information.
Per NYC Health, this condition has been renamed Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)—formerly Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS). The condition is rare and it is potentially life-threatening, so it is important that you know its signs and symptoms.
NYC Health’s Fact Sheet conveys new information about the syndrome, its symptoms, when to seek medical help, treatments, and preventative steps. Because MIS-C is associated with COVID-19, acting to keep your child from being exposed to COVID-19 continues to be essential.
As a reminder, families should help their children understand the importance of the following measures and ensure their children follow them:
- As per NYS Executive Order 202.17, all people over the age of two who can medically tolerate a face covering must wear one when they are outside their home if they cannot maintain physical distance from others. Free face coverings are available at DOE Meal Hubs in all five boroughs—you can find one close to you.
- Physical distancing and good hygiene remain critical, even while wearing a face covering.
- When outside the home, adults and children must maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others whenever possible.
- Parents should remind children of the importance of good hand hygiene and should help ensure that children frequently wash their hands.
The health and safety of our communities remains our top priority, and we will continue to take all appropriate measures to help keep our students, families, and staff members safe. Please visit nyc.gov/health at any time for the latest information on MIS-C, and do not hesitate to contact 311 with any questions.
May 11, 2020: Letter From Chancellor Carranza and Commission Barbot
Health and safety is our top priority, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health Department) and the Department of Education (DOE) continue to work together to keep the city’s students, families, and staff members safe, healthy, and informed as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic evolves.
The NYC Department of Health is currently investigating cases of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome, or PMIS, a new health condition appearing in children in New York City and elsewhere. The NYC Health Department is also investigating the possible association between PMIS and COVID-19 in children. Some doctors think the condition is related to having COVID-19, but the connection is still not clear.
PMIS is a rare condition that is not contagious. However, because it is life-threatening, it is important to know the signs. Most children have a persistent, high fever lasting several days, along with other symptoms, including:
- Irritability or sluggishness
- Abdominal pain without another explanation
- Conjunctivitis, or red or pink eyes
- Enlarged lymph node (“gland”) on one side of the neck
- Red, cracked lips or red tongue that looks like a strawberry
- Swollen hands and feet, which might also be red
You should call your doctor if your child becomes ill and has had continued fever. Your doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and use that information to recommend next steps. If your child is severely ill, you should go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately.
Although it is not yet known whether it is associated with COVID-19, it is important parents and children take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Parents should help their children understand the importance of the following measures and ensure their children follow them:
- As per NYS Executive Order No. 202.17, all people over the age of two who can medically tolerate a face covering must wear one when they are outside their home if they cannot maintain physical distance from others.
- Physical distancing and good hygiene remain critical, even while wearing a face covering.
- When outside the home, adults and children must maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others whenever possible.
- Parents should remind children of the importance of good hand hygiene and should help ensure that children frequently wash their hands.
The health and safety of our communities remain our top priority, and we will continue to follow all guidance and take all appropriate measures to help keep our students, families, and staff members safe. Please contact 311 with any questions.
May 6, 2020: Updates on Use of Zoom from from Chancellor Carranza
As we enter a new month, we continue to work to equip all of you, our families and our school communities, with the information, tools, and resources that you need for remote learning as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic together as a City. This has been an ongoing process, as we all blaze new trails in uncharted territory of fully remote learning. Throughout it all, the health, safety, and security of our communities has been our focus and priority.
As you may recall, security and privacy concerns for our students and staff, including unwanted and unsafe meeting interruptions, led us to prohibit the use of Zoom in early April. The decision was a difficult one, but after reviewing the risks, we know it was in the best interest of our school communities. As we indicated when we made this announcement in April, we would continue to engage Zoom and other online collaboration platforms to make sure that students, teachers, and everyone in the DOE community had safe, secure means to interact with each other that respected student privacy.
We are pleased to announce that now, following several weeks of collaboration with the company, we are now able to offer Zoom as a safe, secure platform for use across the DOE. All schools and students will have free access to a central, secure DOE account for learning and collaboration. Our work with Zoom included reaching an agreement about data encryption and storage, creating settings for our platform to make sure only DOE participants and specifically invited guests can enter classrooms or meetings and giving meeting hosts more control over their classrooms and meetings.
This means that:
- All staff and students must use the new DOE central account to access Zoom
- All DOE students and staff will be able to sign onto nycdoe.zoom.us with their DOE email and password, and will be able to use the full complement of features Zoom offers
- The central DOE account has been pre-arranged to ensure safety and security of all participants, which protects all members of our communities
- There is no cost for schools, teachers or service providers (for use of Zoom, as well as previously approved platforms like Microsoft and Google)
- We will add Zoom to all DOE-issued iPads
Please visit the Getting Started with Zoom page to learn more about accessing Zoom, including:
- How to access DOE Zoom
- New security settings and instructions for use
- Contacts for technical support for families
Our new agreement with Zoom will give your children another way to connect with their schools, teachers and school staff. We are excited to be able to have another safe and secure option for school communities to use during this unprecedented time.
As always, we are grateful for your flexibility and patience. We know how hard every one of you works to support your children’s learning at home. And we are glad that you will now have access to another tool in Zoom that will help keep learning going.
April 28, 2020: Chancellor Carranza and Chief Academic Officer Linda Chen Announce the Grading Policy for Remote Learning
This unprecedented time of COVID-19 has presented difficulty and struggles for all New Yorkers, and we recognize that supporting your children in their continued learning in the midst of this crisis has been no small feat. We are amazed by the resilience and resolve that all of you—the families of our 1.1 million students—have shown as we transformed our entire system to remote learning. We are grateful for all that you are doing to support the success of your child as we finish the 2019-2020 school year in remote learning.
This transition would be a challenge at any time, but in the midst of the anxiety and trauma so many of our communities are experiencing due to the pandemic, it could have been insurmountable. Still, you have done it, being there for your children in every way you can to support their learning despite not necessarily knowing where the next meal will be coming from, or dealing with illness or loss in your family or community, or any other number of insecurities this time has brought.
That is why we have continually evolved our policies to meet this moment, developing and in some cases entirely reinventing them to support all of you—our students and families. These policies run the gamut from attendance to class scheduling to technology usage and beyond. Today, we are writing with another important policy update, concerning student grading
Grades are important for understanding a student’s progress toward meeting learning standards, but they are just one way our educators are measuring and discerning how a student is engaging with schoolwork and making progress. We must ensure that support for our students includes not just academics, but social-emotional learning, health and safety, and physical and mental wellness, and there are relationships in place that affirm and empower our students and families. We are giving our educators the tools and skills they need to understand and support our students socially and emotionally. We will continue to create resources for students and families that elevate these supports within the context of COVID-19. Implementation of the policy by school leaders will be considerate of students who have experienced emotional loss, death, mental health issues, or didn’t have access to a device or connectivity right away. We know that just as you are our partners in learning, we are yours in the emotional support your children may need during this time.
We have heard from students, parents, teachers, school leaders, and many others across the City to inform our revised grading policy. We see you, we hear you, and we believe that the final policy we are issuing emphasizes flexibility and patience for students in these unprecedented times, while also keeping students engaged without penalty for the trauma they may be experiencing. It maintains clear expectations that acknowledge each individual student’s experience, and creates a consistent, equitable system across all schools. The policy seeks to minimize stress on families and students, while still providing next year’s teachers with the information they need about an individual student’s progress toward achieving standards.
What You Need to Know
The grading policy outlined below is in effect for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year only. Teachers will base students’ final grades on a holistic review of their progress before and after we started remote learning. Attendance will not be a factor in students’ grades. No student will receive a failing final grade.
|Grade(s)||Grading Policy Summary|
|3K & Pre-K||No change because students do not receive report cards or grades.|
|K - 5th||Students receive final grades of either “Meets Standards” (MT) or “Needs Improvement” (N).|
|6th-8th||Students receive final grades of “Meets Standards” (MT), “Needs Improvement” (N), or “Course in Progress” (NX).|
|9th – 12th||Your school’s existing grading scale applies, but no failing grade will be issued. A “Course in Progress” (NX) will be issued instead. After final grades have been issued, students and families have the option to convert any or all passing Spring Semester 2020 final grades to pass (CR will be the symbol used in this case). Any CR grade will not be factored into a students’ GPA. |
The DOE is continuing to develop plans for programming and supports over the summer months. More information about summer school will be made available by your school and shared in the upcoming weeks.
If You Have Questions
For elementary and middle schools, principals will generally serve as primary points to answer questions regarding the grading policy for families.
For high schools, school counselors and college counselors will generally serve as primary points to answer questions regarding the grading policy for students and families, along with principals. If you need help identifying the school counselor or college counselor, please contact your principal.
Please also see our Frequently Asked Questions document for additional information. We are committed not only to supporting students in their continued learning through June and beyond, but to supporting you as our primary partner in your child’s education. We know you have had a lot of questions and faced a lot of challenges in this transition; you have had to take on essential, invaluable new roles to keep your child’s education going and become indispensable partners to teachers. There are many resources available on this website, and your student’s school is also standing by to support you.
We always say that New York City has the best students, staff, and families in the world, and nothing will ever change that. You continue to prove this true each and every day. Thank you.
April 15, 2020
Read the Message to Parents of Children with Disabilities from Chancellor Carranza.
April 11, 2020: Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza Announce Remote Learning for Remainder of 2019-2020 School Year
Less than one month ago, we came together and began transforming the largest school system in the nation. The battle against COVID-19 left us no choice but to close school buildings to students and staff, transition to remote teaching and learning from home, and adjust to distancing from each other to remain safe.
Now, we face another painful decision. After consulting with public health experts about the ongoing trajectory of the virus, and with educators about the potential for continued disruption for the remainder of the year, we have decided that New York City school buildings will not reopen during the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers and students will finish the school year in remote learning. We will continue to operate our 400+ school-based Meal Hubs, which serve three free meals a day to any New Yorker who needs them, and we will continue to ensure child care for the children of essential workers.
This is a painful but necessary decision for two reasons. First, public health experts have determined that community transmission of COVID-19 will be widespread well into the end of the school year. Even at low-level transmission, we’d have new cases, which would be extremely difficult to contain school-toschool. We believe there simply wouldn’t be enough time to bring our students back.
Second, we, as parents, know how important it is to have some sense of predictability in order to effectively plan for your family. This crisis is hitting all of us very hard. But we are hopeful that this sense of certainty will allow for more stability and the ability to better plan for our work and home lives.
We know this will have an immense impact on the 1.1 million students and 150,000 staff who make up our New York City public schools. But we are inspired by the extraordinary ways everyone in our school communities has risen to this challenge. Every day, we see how you – students, families, and the dedicated staff serving and supporting our public schools – are going above and beyond to connect in the face of this crisis, all in service of making sure learning continues. We also know that you’ll need support to continue this tremendous undertaking. That’s why we’re making the following commitments to you as we extend the closure of our school buildings until the end of the school year:
Every student who has requested an internet-enabled device will have one by the end of April. No student will go without the tools they need for learning. We have already delivered tens of thousands of devices to our most vulnerable students, including those in shelter and temporary housing. We are committed to closing the remainder of the digital divide for each of our kids. If you still need a device, please fill out the Remote Learning Device Request Form .
We will make sure that parents can ask and get answers to their questions about remote learning. We know you need someone to turn to who will answer any question you have about education during this time—from social-emotional support to academic progress to graduation requirements. Your school is always ready and willing to support you, and we will also make sure that additional support is available as we continue in our remote environment. This means increasing hours and staffing of our parent hotlines so you can get the answers you need. Call 311 to be directed to the right DOE support.
We’ll continue to invest in instructional resources, enrichment programs, and student supports for your families to engage in learning at home. Our students need and deserve rich, deep programming and remote learning opportunities as we go further into the school year, and we will continue to provide them. This includes learning resources provided by your teachers and schools, but it also includes enriching and fun materials from the world-class cultural institutions, libraries, museums, parks, and more right here in New York City.
We will ensure every high school senior is supported towards graduation. We’ll provide 1:1 counseling support to every senior, working closely with schools and families to understand if students are on track—and if not, provide opportunities to help them get there. Guidance counselors from every high school will reach out to every senior to make sure they are on a path to graduate.
We will reopen schools stronger than ever in September, ensuring the safety of our buildings and the resources in place to combat any learning loss and provide emotional support to our students, families, and educators as needed to resume learning and reconnect our communities.
Nothing about this is easy. For the last six years of this administration, public schools have been the anchor of our fight against inequality. They are how we’ve delivered increased opportunity, and we can’t overstate the loss of the concrete sense of community our schools provide. But this is about saving lives.
We are so grateful for your flexibility and patience; we know how hard every one of you has worked to support your children’s learning at home. And we will continue to make every effort to both support you and keep learning going during this unprecedented time.
March 22, 2020: Chancellor Carranza Announces Remote Learning
Tomorrow, we will all come together to take the first steps of a huge new educational journey as New York City brings remote learning to our 1.1 million students.
While none of us could have predicted even a few weeks ago that we would launch this dramatic new transition in education, I could not be prouder of the way our educators have come together to ready themselves to teach your children from their own homes. And I could not be more grateful to all of you for your faith in our educators, and all of the hardworking staff at DOE.
This will not be perfect. Nothing can ever replace a talented teacher in a classroom. We know the challenges and inequities our students face. But over the past week I have seen DOE’s 150,000 staff rise to this challenge in astounding ways. Your faith is them is deserved and earned.
Things have moved very quickly since Mayor de Blasio and I made the very difficult decision one week ago that school buildings would close for student instruction until at least April 20. Educators citywide created a remote curriculum in days. Every school has been equipped with an online platform. Learning resources, including those for special education and multilingual learners, have been developed and posted on our website—and there is so much more to come.
All the relevant information you need about engaging in remote learning is on our website at schools.nyc.gov—please visit it frequently for updates. And please check in with your teachers and principals if you have questions: just as they were before last week, they will continue to be your guide to instruction and (virtual) engagement during these unprecedented times. I will share a few key pieces of information here to keep in mind for this week:
Each school has its own online platform, with many schools using Google Classroom. Educators have contacted school communities to let you know what remote learning tool your child’s school will be using.
- You can find instructions on DOE student accounts and getting started in Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams at schools.nyc.gov/learnathome.
- If you are having additional problems connecting, contact your school directly via email. Our Find a School tool can help you find contact info for your school as well, if you do not already have it: schools.nyc.gov/find-a-school.
If your child needs a device to participate in remote learning, and you have not yet filled out a device request form, please visit coronavirus.schools.nyc/RemoteLearningDevices. We will help you get a device with internet connection.
- Many of you have already received a device on loan from your school. If you have not and you still require a device, please fill out the survey and DOE will reach out to you.
Students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
If your student is recommended for integrated co-teaching, special class, or special education teacher support services, your school will make every effort to arrange for them continue to receive instruction from the same special education teachers and classroom paraprofessionals that usually teach them. Someone from your school will contact you to discuss how instruction will be delivered.
- Your child’s IEP meetings will still take place; IEP meetings will be conducted by phone. To make a referral for initial evaluation or reevaluation, you can email your principal or email@example.com, or call 311.
We will continue offer free meals in the weeks ahead at more than 400 sites across the city. Food hubs will operate Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. through 1:30 p.m., and any student of any age can get 3 meals daily. Visit schools.nyc.gov/freemeals to find a site near you.
Regional Enrichment Centers
On Monday, March 23, the City will open Regional Enrichment Centers (RECs) for the children of front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19—including first responders and healthcare workers. If you believe your child may be eligible to attend a REC, please visit schools.nyc.gov/recs.
Enrollment and Placement Support
Family Welcome Center staff are available by email, and are prepared to assist with enrollment and placement of new admissions, questions around admissions, information about offers, and waitlists. They do not handle REC enrollment.
- Please be aware FWCs are processing a high volume of questions at this time in connection to the recent release of high school admissions offer letters. We ask for your patience, and are aiming to respond to all requests within 48 hours. Here’s how to receive direct support on these topics:
- Parents can also call 311 and say “Schools” to be routed to someone who can help with school-related questions.
If you need help with a problem that cannot be resolved at the school level or wish to report a complaint, please reach out to your district superintendent’s office. Contact information for your district support team can be found here: schools.nyc.gov/about-us/leadership/district-leadership. If you do not know the district in which your child’s school is located, please use the Find A School tool: schools.nyc.gov/find-a-school.
There will surely be bumps in the road as we all adjust to this new reality, and I want to thank you for the patience that will be demanded of you as we undertake this transformation together.
In just a few hours, we will all take a great leap together into uncharted territory. We will be successful if we continue to work together as a community of families, educators, and staff. We all share two key goals: a high-quality education for every single one of our 1.1 million students, and protecting health and safety of everyone in our school communities.
That means that public education in New York City is going to look tremendously different for the foreseeable future. But together, we will chart this path forward, and I have no doubt that we will eventually look back and say this was our finest hour: when we confronted this great challenge and overcame it, in unity, with shared strength and commitment.
New York City has the greatest students and staff in the world, and nothing will ever change that—today, tomorrow, or ever. I am excited to be on this journey with you. Together, I am confident we will learn and grow with boundless potential.
March 16: Chancellor Carranza Announces School Building Closure
All of us are living through an unprecedented time as we work to keep our communities safe and healthy in the face of the coronavirus. New Yorkers are joining millions in cities, states, and nations across the world in confronting decisions that we’ve never had to face—and maybe never could have imagined having to.
Here in New York, Mayor de Blasio and I have been clear that any changes to our school system as we know it would be an extreme measure—a last resort. We’ve been monitoring the outbreak in New York City day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. This weekend, it became clear that continuing public education in our school buildings was no longer sustainable for the time being.
On Sunday, we announced that for the next three and a half weeks, we are moving to a remote learning model, with a projected reopening of school buildings the week of April 20, 2020. I know this may feel abrupt, and has the potential to cause disruption in your lives. We are committed to consistent and clear communication with you throughout this time period, and a clear understanding of what will happen.
Our announcement today means that Monday, March 16, school buildings are closed and students will be out of session. However, students and families can pick up medication or receive any standard medical services from Tuesday through Thursday, during regular school hours; school nurses and school based health center staff will be on site. During that time, teachers will also be expected to report to their buildings and receive full-day professional development on remote learning.
Later in the week, students will begin picking up materials, including technology to participate in remote learning when needed. Additional guidance on all of this will be shared with you in the next couple of days.
All throughout this week, grab-and-go breakfast will be available at the entrance of every school building from 7:30 AM – 1:30 PM. Any student can pick up breakfast and lunch at any school building.
On Monday, March 23, we will be opening several dozen Regional Enrichment Centers across the City, to serve the children of our City’s first responders, healthcare workers, transit workers, and our most vulnerable populations.
That Monday, we will also launch remote learning for grades K-12. I have every confidence in New York City educators and know they will rise to the occasion, and dedicate the same passion for delivering high-quality instruction remotely as they do in the classroom. We know we have the most dedicated school staff: teachers, custodians, administrators, and especially the school food workers who will be continuing to work during this time as part of a citywide meals program. More information on the launch of that program will be coming soon.
I want to be clear that this is not a closure, but a transition. We will not lower our expectations for our students. We know they are hungry to learn and we will match their curiosity and passion with work-from-home materials, including distribution of devices that will support our remote-learning instructional model.
There are already instructional resources available for every grade level in every subject on our Learn at Home pages.
We know this is a difficult time, and we are working hard to make sure our City continues to support families in every way we can. I want to assure families we’re working to make this as seamless a transition as possible.
Now is the time to come together to do what’s best for the health and safety of all New Yorkers. We are with you, partners in education in the greatest city in the world. We have the world’s most talented students, educators, and staff—and nothing will ever change that.
We will continue to communicate with you in the coming days, and encourage you to visit this website daily for more information and updates on this transition.