Messages for Families

May 27, 2021: Update for Families

American Sign Language (video)

COVID-19 Vaccines for Children Ages 12 and Older

We are excited to share that all New Yorkers age 12 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have a child who is at least 12 years old, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene strongly encourages you to make a vaccination appointment for them as soon as possible by visiting vaccinefinder.nyc.gov. You can also call 877-VAX-4-NYC (877-829-4692) for help making an appointment at a City-run vaccination site. Many sites now have walk-in appointments.

Vaccination is the most important step you can take to protect you and your family from COVID-19. It is especially important for those with an underlying health condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness, such as asthma, obesity, or diabetes. The same is true for people who live with someone 65 or older or with an underlying health condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness. Vaccination is free and available regardless of immigration status.

In the U.S., the Pfizer vaccine is currently the only vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for children ages 12 to 17. The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be very safe and effective at protecting people from severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and death. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

To find a site offering the Pfizer vaccine, make an appointment, or locate a walk-in site, visit vaccinefinder.nyc.gov. You can also check with your child’s healthcare provider to see if they are offering the Pfizer vaccine.

For answers to frequently asked questions, visit nyc.gov/vaccinefacts.

Chancellor Family Engagement Forums

Chancellor Meisha Porter has launched a five-borough family engagement tour to hear directly from school communities about their top priorities for next school year. These virtual forums are an opportunity for families, teachers, school administrators, and staff to provide Department of Education leadership with their thoughts on the types of resources and support they need as we move towards a full reopening in September. 

The remaining three forums will be held from 6:30–8:00 p.m. on these dates: 

  • Queens—Thursday, May 27 
  • Brooklyn—Monday, June 7 
  • Bronx—Wednesday, June 9 

How to register:

Families can register for the forums at learndoe.org/chancellor. When you register, you will be asked if you want to ask a question or provide a comment during the event about topics, including health and safety, special education, fall 2021 school reopening, social-emotional learning, and more.

Each forum will be recorded and posted at learndoe.org/chancellor so you may access them at any time. Interpretation services will be available at every forum.

Update on Regents Exams

We want to remind families of high school students that the New York State Regents exams will be administered in person from June 1724 for English Language Arts, Living Environment, Physical Setting/Earth Science, and Algebra I. All other subject exams have been cancelled for June, as well as all August Regents exams.

Due to these cancellations, certain students are eligible for Regents exam waivers, including for the four exams still being offered in June. Your child’s school will contact you to share information about the waivers and determine your interest in having your child participate in the Regents exams. Students receiving fully remote instruction are not expected to come to school to take the Regents; however, if they would like to participate, they may attend the in-person administration.

Halal Meal Expansion

We are pleased to announce that an additional 11 schools are being certified to serve halal take-out meals, for a total of 43 schools citywide. The additional schools serve students and members of the public in Spanish Harlem, Harlem, Jamaica, Jackson Heights, and Soundview. A full list of schools serving halal meals is available at the Community Meals on our website.

This expansion reflects the DOE’s commitment to respecting the religious identity of all students and to ensuring that children can eat consistent with their dietary needs. All the menus were reviewed by a panel of imams. Each school offering the halal options was inspected and certified by imams, and kitchen staff were trained to prepare food in compliance with halal rules.

This initiative was launched in partnership with the New York City Council to provide meals in the schools and neighborhoods with high demand for halal meals.

School Survey Reminder

The 15th annual NYC School Survey is underway! We encourage all families and teachers in grades 3K through 12, and students in grades 6–12 to visit nycschoolsurvey.org by June 11 to share your thoughts on your school experience this year. Make your voice heard to help make your school a better place to learn! 

May 24, 2021: School Re-opening Plans for Fall 2021

First, thank you. I know the past year has required resiliency, determination, flexibility, and sacrifices from all of us, and from you in particular. You have taken on new roles that many of you never imagined you’d have to take on, and have balanced so much while coping with losses and the many life challenges that COVID-19 brought to us over the past year.

As we close out this school year, I am looking forward to the opportunity that lies before us to reimagine what school is and means for your children. We know that we have to welcome our students back to a warm, welcoming, and affirming learning environment that challenges them academically while lifting them up when they need support.

As our schools work hard on re-imagining how we educate our children, I am excited to share with you our re-opening plans for fall 2021. Based on available health indicators, we will return to full-time, in-person learning this September. This means that all students in grades 3-K through 12 will be learning in-person this fall.

All teachers and staff will also be returning to in-person instruction this fall. We are very grateful for the dedication of all our principals, teachers and school staff and recognize the hard work they have done during this challenging year, and we’re excited for your children to re-connect with their beloved teachers and school staff, in addition to their peers, this fall.

As we prepare for your children, as well as teachers and staff, to return to schools, we will continue our commitment to prioritize health and safety first. With a current rolling 7-day COVID positivity rate of 0.16% and a consistently low transmission rate, our schools have a proven track record of being safe. We will meet whatever the CDC social distancing requirements are in September, and we expect that the city’s continuously improving health metrics may allow for more flexibility by the fall. Finally, in our commitment to keep health and safety a top priority, we plan to adhere to the many health and safety measures we had in place this past school year, including the following:

  • Masks will continue to be a requirement in all of our school buildings 
  • Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms will continue to be required to stay at home 
  • Students, teachers and staff will continue to complete the daily health screener at home 
  • Every school building will continue to have a nurse 
  • Every classroom will have working ventilation systems 
  • On-site COVID-19 testing will continue in school buildings as recommended by the latest health guidance 
  • The Situation Room will continue to support schools with next steps if there are positive cases 

We know that many of our students have not attended school in-person since March of 2020, and that returning to school in-person this fall will be an adjustment. We promise to do everything we can to welcome your children back and provide the supports needed to ensure a positive homecoming. We’ve already made investments to hire more teachers and social workers, and will have academic and social-emotional learning programs available to support our students. Here are some ways that we are supporting with the transition now, and we encourage you and your children to participate:

Chancellor’s Borough-Wide Family Forums

I am hosting borough-wide family town halls to hear more from you about this fall, and how we can use our resources to ensure a positive homecoming for your children and provide an enriching and challenging academic experience that integrates social-emotional learning.

School Open Houses

Starting in June and throughout the summer, every school will host open houses for families to visit, take a tour, and learn about the health and safety precautions in place that have kept our schools safe over the last year.

  • Your child’s school will be in touch with you about when these will be scheduled, and we encourage you to participate to learn more.

Summer Rising 

In partnership with the Department of Youth and Community Development, we are so excited to provide an enriching, fun and joyful summer camp experience for any interested student. We encourage your child to join us - to be welcomed back into their school communities, re-connect with teachers and staff, and get ready for fall while having fun!

Thank you for your partnership, your engagement, and your dedication to your children’s education over the last year. I am in awe of how our communities came together to lift each other up to ensure our children had the best experience possible despite enormous challenges. I am looking forward to partnering with you, learning from you, and leveraging all we‘ve done together over the last year to create a new normal starting in September - one that is warm and welcoming, affirming and enriching, and exciting and challenging - for each one of your children. 

May 12, 2021: Letter to Families from Chancellor Porter

As you may know, May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. This is the time when we celebrate the culture, history, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States. I am always humbled when I think about the role Asian and Pacific Americans played in the formation of this city and country. From building the first transcontinental railroad to fighting for America throughout the different wars, these communities have deep roots throughout our nation. And they have made important contributions as small business owners, teachers, doctors, artists, scientists, in technology fields, and in so many other ways.

As Chancellor, it is important to me that our students and educators explore the rich traditions and achievements of people of AAPI heritage. It’s also important to have the hard discussions about the horrific rise in violence against our fellow AAPI New Yorkers and Americans. In schools, we are supporting this by providing curriculum resources accessible to educators in all grades. And at every turn, we must reinforce that there is no room for discrimination of any kind in New York City’s public schools. To our AAPI students, staff, and families: The Department of Education stands in solidarity with you. We will continue to honor your diverse and powerful voices.

For some amazing resources that are great for discussions at home with your children, visit Together for Justice. In addition, your children can access a collection of hundreds of e-books and audiobooks honoring the contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans have made to the lives and culture of the United States. These books are available through the Sora app; students can log in at soraapp.com/welcome/login/310229 using their DOE credentials. 

I want to share one more important link with you: the link to our 15th annual NYC School Survey, which launched this week! I encourage all families and teachers in grades 3K through 12, and students in grades 6-12, to visit NYC School Survey by June 11 to share your thoughts on your school experience this year. Tell us what you think about student well-being and engagement, communication from your school, culturally responsive education, how your school has supported you, and teaching and learning. Your school will use your feedback to think about the learning environment and work with all members of the school community to make the school a better place to learn.

As always, I am grateful for you and how you support your children every step of the way. Thank you.

May 3, 2021: Update for Families

American Sign Language (video)

2021–22 School Year Calendar

The DOE has released the 2021–22 public school calendar, available now at schools.nyc.gov/calendar.

Some of this year’s important dates include:

  • First Day of School for All Students: Monday, September 13
  • Election Day (full remote asynchronous instructional day for all students): Tuesday, November 2
  • Thanksgiving Recess (schools closed): Thursday–Friday, November 25–26
  • Winter Recess (schools closed): Friday–Friday, December 24–31

Please note the following reminders:

  • On “snow days” or days when school buildings are closed due to an emergency, all students and families should plan on participating in remote learning.
  • Your parent-teacher conference date might be different from those listed on the School Year Calendar. Your child’s teacher will work with you to schedule your conference.

You can find a printable version of the calendar along with translations at schools.nyc.gov/calendar2122.

Vote Now in the 2021 CCEC Elections!

CCEC elections voting is now open and runs through May 11. And for the first time, voting is open to parents and guardians of all students!

Education Council representatives serve as the voice of our families and offer important advice to the Chancellor and the Department of Education. Now is your chance to have a say on who sits on these councils.

Parents can vote for their district councils and citywide councils that serve their students using their NYC Schools Account at MyStudent.nyc.

Want to learn more about how to vote in the CCEC elections? Parent University offers a free course on the voting process at parentu.schools.nyc/course/detail/351 or you can watch directly on our YouTube channel here:
youtube.com/channel/UConHMOb3enWOJXaJJn7xbSQ/playlists.

For more information about running for, serving on, and voting in elections, please visit Education Council Elections 2021.

Teacher Appreciation Week Begins May 3

New York City’s teachers have shown up for our students, families, and City in so many ways this past year. Teacher Appreciation Week is a time for us to show up for them. 

The DOE invites students, families, and other members of the community to take a moment to thank a teacher today!

Visit our website at schools.nyc.gov/thankateachernyc, where you can send a note of appreciation to the teachers making a difference in your life.

You can also share your gratitude on social media using the hashtag #ThankaTeacherNYC.

Register for Summer Rising

Registration is now open for Summer Rising, NYC's new free summer program for students in grades K–12.

Summer Rising will offer academic and social-emotional support, arts, and recreation. There will also be local field trips to parks, pools, and other enriching outdoor venues that are both educational and meet State health and safety guidelines.

Breakfast, lunch, and a snack will be served to each student.

Families of students in grades K-8 can sign up at nyc.gov/summerrising. For families of students in grades 9-12, high schools will reach out students in the coming weeks to discuss a summer program that meets their needs and interests.

If you are a family of a student in grades K-8 and you do not see your site listed, please complete the survey at nycenet.edu/surveys/NYCSummerRising and you’ll be contacted when a program opens in your neighborhood. We’re adding new ones every Monday through mid-May. After you sign up for a program, you’ll receive an email confirming your registration.

We look forward to seeing your child this summer!

April 20, 2021: Reflections on the Murder of George Floyd from Chancellor Porter

American Sign Language (video)

Last year, a police officer put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, but to me, it felt like an eternity. 

I felt pain and rage, deep in my bones. It wasn’t a new feeling. I have felt that many times in my life, as a Black woman, sister, daughter, and mother to Black children—and as an educator who has served children of color in this city for more than 20 years.

That pain, rage, and fear has been present throughout the trial of the officer who killed George Floyd. I feel like I have been watching George Floyd die again and again, renewing the tragedy each time, as the jury and the nation have confronted what happened in the pursuit of justice for Mr. Floyd—and the family who is forced to go on without him.

And now, the first step toward justice has been served.

For me as a Black woman, for my brothers, for my mother and aunts who lost their brother to police violence, getting to justice is so important.

 For our Black and brown children to know that they matter, the accountability this verdict represents is so important.

In a world that too often tells them otherwise, accountability in this moment tells the Black and brown children in our schools that their lives matter, and lifts up the importance of their futures.

This is what anchors the work we do in schools every day—why we are so focused on creating welcoming, loving environments for all our children. We want to make sure that each child doesn’t just hear, but feels that they are important. We want them to feel that their teachers and school community value their past and present experiences, as well as their dreams for the future.

For more than 20 years, I have experienced the sensitivity and wisdom of children—they know what’s going on, even those who may not be able to put it into words. They can feel the energy of the world around them. So we are making sure our schools are safe spaces for students to share their feelings. Every school is receiving resources to help facilitate open conversations and ensure our children have their questions heard.

We also have mental health support in place for our students, teachers and staff to help grapple with any feelings that emerge. Because while the individual who took George Floyd’s life will be held accountable, we recognize that systemic racism, and the violence it fuels, is still creating tragedy and inequality across our country every single day. We are all part of the work to undo this harm and reach true justice.

 As you take care of yourselves and your loved ones the best you can, know that we are here in your corner, affirming the importance of our children’s future, each and every day. And that will never change.

April 20, 2021: Update for Families

American Sign Language (video)

Senior Transition Kickoff

Calling all families of high school seniors!

From Monday, April 19 through Friday, April 30, seniors and their families can attend a series of on-line events that will help them get started on next steps for life after graduation. The event topics include:

  • Financial aid workshops in 10 languages
  • Preparing for what to expect after graduation
  • Ways to use summer months to prepare for postsecondary transition
  • Fall 2021 supports available and how to access them
  • Text alerts about important reminders and next steps

Learn more about the Senior Transition Kickoff at bit.ly/SeniorTransitionKickoff21

Summer Rising

Summer is about to get a whole lot more exciting for students!

Beginning on Monday, April 26, New York City families can start signing up for Summer Rising, the City’s free summer program for any child in grades K–12 who wants to participate.

Summer Rising combines the strength of the NYC Department of Education’s academics with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development’s school-based enrichment programming to help create bridges back to school this fall. And it gives parents peace of mind as they return to work.

Summer Rising is available in every neighborhood. Programs for students in grades K-8 will be full day, in-person experiences that will be run by local school leaders and trusted community-based organizations in safe and supportive environments. Each program will offer academic support, arts, and recreation, and staff members will be prepared to respond to students’ social and emotional needs. Summer Rising programs will also offer students local field trips to parks, pools, and other enriching outdoor venues that are educational and in accordance with State health and safety guidelines.

All Summer Rising programs will follow rigorous health and safety protocols, including social distancing and mask wearing, and every location will have access to testing, nursing support, and a telehealth call center. In addition, breakfast, lunch, and a snack will be served to each student.

For more information about Summer Rising, visit the Summer page on our website. To register beginning on April 26, visit discoverdycd.dycdconnect.nyc.

Family and Community Empowerment

Voting for City and Community Education Councils begins in one week!

For the first time, every parent or guardian of a New York City public school student now has the opportunity to vote for their Education Council representatives.

City and Community Education Councils (CCECs) serve as the voice of our families, offering important advice to the Chancellor and the NYC Department of Education. Voting begins on Saturday, May 1 and ends on Tuesday, May 11.

To vote, you just need an NYC Schools Account (mystudent.nyc) that has all of your students registered. Visit NYC Schools Account on our site to learn more about the NYC Schools Account. If you do not have an NYC Schools Account, or need help registering your children to your existing account, please contact your school’s Parent Coordinator for assistance.

April 9, 2021: Update for Families from Chancellor Porter and Health Commissioner Chokshi

American Sign Language (video)

No matter what, health and safety always come first in our schools. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the New York City Department of Education (DOE) have worked together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the health of our school communities. We are proud that this partnership has helped make New York City public school buildings some of the safest places in the city.

As the pandemic has evolved, we have updated our protocols to ensure a safe, supportive learning experience for every student. Yesterday, following guidance from the CDC and detailed review of the scientific literature, we announced changes to our COVID-19 school building closure policies to minimize disruptions to in-person learning while maintaining our steadfast commitment to health and safety.

This new policy is among the many practices we have put in place to protect our school communities, including encouraging vaccinations for all eligible New Yorkers. At least 65,000 school staff members have already been vaccinated, providing a critically important layer of protection. All New Yorkers age 16 and up are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, and we urge you to learn more and make an appointment at nyc.gov/vaccinefinder.

Here is what you need to know about the new closure policy:

When will a school close?

Beginning Monday, April 12, 2021, a school will only close if there are 4 or more confirmed COVID-19 cases from 4 different classrooms during a 7-day period, and the cases are traced to exposure inside the school as determined by the investigating team.

Many DOE buildings have more than one school within them. Any other schools in the same building will not close unless they have a separate set of 4 or more cases from 4 different classrooms traced to exposure inside the school, or there is close interaction between the schools as determined by the investigating team.

What if there are 2 or 3 cases in a school?

If 2 or 3 positive cases in different classrooms are identified within a school over a 7-day period, the affected classrooms will switch to remote learning for 10 days. The rest of the school will remain open for in-person learning.

Additionally, random testing for COVID-19 at the school will immediately be increased to include 40% of a school’s in-person population during the following week. Please note that individuals who have been vaccinated will be included in testing as of now.

What if there is 1 case in a school?

When a school has a single confirmed case, the affected classroom will switch to remote learning for a period of 10 days, just as they do now. Only unvaccinated students or staff in the affected classroom(s) will need to quarantine.

Continuing to close classrooms in response to a case of COVID-19, and increasing testing in the event of 2 or 3 cases, allows us to keep school communities safe, while avoiding closures of the whole school. We know how much continuity matters for students, staff, and families, and this approach allows for that while staying consistent with CDC guidance. It is also responsive to the many families and staff who have experienced multiple building closures this school year — and the ensuing disruption it can cause. Our goal is safety and stability for all our families.

As always, we are grateful to you and your children for your patience and persistence during this challenging school year.

April 8, 2021: Update for Families

American Sign Language (video)

Important Deadlines

Spring Opt-in Deadline Extended to Friday, April 9

If your child is currently learning remotely every day, they have one final opportunity to opt in to learning in person in the school building at least part of the week. The deadline to submit your request to transition to blended learning for the rest of this school year has been extended to Friday, April 9. How to opt-in to blended learning:

  • Online: visit the Learning Preference Survey at nycenet.edu/surveys/learningpreference to select blended learning for your child.
  • By phone: Call 311 to submit your learning preference change.

G&T Kindergarten Application Deadline is Friday, April 9

The application for kindergarten Gifted & Talented (G&T) programs is now open, and the deadline to apply is April 9. Interested families with children born in 2016 can apply one of three ways:

Pre-K Application Deadline Extended to Monday, April 19

Now you have more time to explore your child’s pre-K options! The pre-K application deadline for children born in 2017 has been extended to April 19. Apply online at MySchools.nyc or by phone at 718-935-2009—you can also call us with any questions. Learn more at Pre-K.

Tests and Assessments

New York State Exams

New York State Exams begin later this month. This year, the New York State Education Department has determined that English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics exams for grades 3 through 8, and Science exams for grades 4 and 8, will only be administered in person in your child’s school building. No remote option will be available.

If you would like your child to participate in this year’s State exams, please notify your school. If you do not wish to have your child take State exams, you do not have to take any further action.

The exams will be administered within the following dates:

  • English Language Arts (ELA) for grades 3 through 8: April 19–29
  • Mathematics for grades 3 through 8: May 3–14. Testing will not occur on May 13, when schools are closed for Eid Al-Fitr.
  • Science for grades 4 and 8: June 7–11

Your child’s school will be communicating with more details about the testing process and deadlines. Learn more at Testing.

March 26, 2021: Spring Recess Travel Advisory

Stay Safe During Spring Recess 

Spring Recess begins Monday, March 29. With the weather warming up and more parents and grandparents getting vaccinated, you might be considering traveling. Travel is not a good idea because COVID-19 is still a serious risk and puts you, your family, and your community at risk of getting and spreading the virus. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging all of us to avoid leaving town. 

Please help stop the spread of COVID-19 and do not travel. If you must travel, remember these COVID-19 prevention tips: 

  • Keep distance from others, bring and use hand sanitizer, and make sure everyone over age two wears a face covering. 
  • Consider staying at a hotel rather than at someone’s home. If you have out-of-town guests, suggest they do the same. 
  • Pick activities that allow you to safely keep distance from others. Avoid large crowds, especially indoors. 
  • If you are going to spend time with people who are not members of your household, outdoors is safer, as COVID-19 spreads easier indoors. Get together in parks, at the beach, or in the backyard, or meet up for outdoor dining. 

Please be aware that visitors and returning New Yorkers may be required to quarantine upon entering New York. For more information, see the New York State COVID-19 Travel Advisory at coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory.

If you travel, when you return home to New York City it is extremely important to: 

  • monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; 
  • get tested; 
  • strictly follow COVID-19 prevention measures such as wearing a face covering whenever around other people and maintaining six feet of distance from others; and 
  • immediately isolate if you feel unwell or test positive for COVID-19.

We hope you enjoy Spring Recess and the many safe, fun activities you can find right here at home. Together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

March 22, 2021: Update on Blended Learning Options from Chancellor Meisha Porter

American Sign Language (video)

We just reopened high school buildings for in-person learning for the first time since November 2020, and I have to say that the joy on our students’ faces as they entered their school buildings was amazing. We are thrilled to see students of all ages safely learning in physical classrooms.

That is why I am very pleased to let you know that all our remote families will now have one more opportunity to transition to blended learning this school year. This means that if your child is currently learning remotely every day, they will be able to opt in to learning in person in the school building at least part of the week for the remainder of the school year. We will make every effort to provide as many days of in-person learning as possible. 

When and How to Opt In to Blended Learning 

  • Beginning this Wednesday, March 24, you can visit the Learning Preference Survey at nycenet.edu/surveys/learningpreference to select blended learning for your child.
  • Families can also call 311.
  • You can change to blended learning until Wednesday, April 7.

When Your Student Can Return to the School Building 

  • Students in district 3-K, Pre-K, and grades K-5, including students in District 75, who opt into blended learning during this opt-in window will return to buildings in April.
  • Students in grades 6-12 who opt into blended learning during this opt-in window will return at a later date, and we will communicate more details as soon as possible.
  • Updates will be posted at COVID-19 Information and Updates.

Requirements for Returning to the School Building 

Please note that if you select blended learning for your child, you must submit the consent form for random COVID-19 testing by the first day your child begins in-person learning. You can submit your consent for testing one of two ways: 

  • Through your New York City Schools Account (NYCSA) under ‘Manage Account’, or 
  • Complete and sign the consent form available at COVID-19 Testing and bring it to your child’s school on the first day they are back in the school building.

Families that select blended learning are expected to have their child attend in person on days they are scheduled to do so.

Please note that if your child is currently learning fully remotely and you do not complete the survey indicating a preference for blended learning, your student(s) will remain fully remote.

We are able to offer this additional chance for fully remote students to opt in to learning in buildings because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance, allowing us to safely accommodate more students in a classroom. As always, our focus is on the health and safety of your children, the dedicated staff who serve them, and you—their family. That has been our priority since day one, and will continue to guide everything we do.

Thanks to our strong health and safety practices—including wearing masks, hand hygiene, weekly random testing for COVID-19, physical distancing, and more—our school buildings are among the safest places in the whole city.

Thank you, as always, for your faith and partnership. We continue to show the nation what is possible in terms of safely educating our one million students—and we couldn’t do it without you. I thank you for your commitment and, in turn, I promise you that our commitment to your child is unwavering. 

March 19, 2021: Update for Families from Chancellor Meisha Porter

American Sign Language (video)

This was my first week as your new Chancellor, and I couldn’t be more excited to take on this role. Not only because I am a New Yorker born and bred, but because education is in my blood. Both my mom and auntie were teachers and I became a New York City public school English teacher because of them, and the amazing educators I had as a student myself growing up in Queens.

Since I started at the DOE 21 years ago, I have also worked as an assistant principal, and then principal. More recently, I served our school communities as a superintendent and Bronx executive superintendent.

And now it is my honor and privilege to lead our schools citywide. I have spent much of this week seeing our brilliant students and educators from every borough in action, in-person and remotely. I saw pre-k students learn about the water cycle, joined sixth graders in learning ratios by mixing just the right ratio of food coloring into frosting, and joined seventh-graders in sharing special objects that reveal something about who we are. Despite all the changes and challenges we’ve faced this past year, our school communities are still joyful, vibrant places of learning. 

As I reflect on this week’s visits, I am also heartened by the beautiful diversity of our classrooms, communities, and our City as a whole. In our schools, “respect for all” is not just a slogan, but a way of life. We value every student, staff member, and family for who they are. We ensure everyone feels welcomed. This is at our very core.

But the horrific anti-Asian hate crimes we’ve been seeing citywide and this week in Atlanta make it clear that we must work harder to end systemic racism. Justice and inclusivity have been pillars of my career as an educator. As Chancellor, I promise to continue to advance equity and dismantle any biases in our school system. And I want to make it clear: there is no room for racism or discrimination of any kind at the Department of Education or in any of our schools. Just this week, we provided our educators with updated resources to combat hate crimes in our schools and provide our students with social and emotional supports. You can find resources for discussing racism and hate crimes with your children at schools.nyc.gov/togetherforjustice.

Creating environments that encourage all students to be who they are will be on my mind on March 22, when all our public high schools will begin welcoming students back to in-person and blended learning. Like elementary and middle schools, as well as our District 75 programs, high schools will follow the strong practices we have established to help keep school communities healthy and safe. This includes weekly random testing of students and staff for COVID-19, physical distancing, masks, and nightly deep cleaning. In the meantime, I’m excited about this important milestone in the city’s recovery. And I’m proud to lead a school system that has set the standard for the nation in reopening efforts.

This is such a hopeful and historic time for our schools and our city, and I want to thank you for all you have done to support our students and schools. In the coming weeks, there will be opportunities for us to meet and talk. I promise to hear and include your voices as we finish out this school year and plan for the next. 

Let’s go. Let’s do this. We’re ready. 

March 8, 2021: Update for Families

American Sign Language (video)

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I am writing to you today with an exciting update: we will be reopening our high schools for in-person learning on Monday, March 22, 2021.

Since the beginning of the school year, I have heard from many of you who are eager to have your child return to a physical classroom. I know you and your child have seen their peers in other grades return to in-person learning, while your student has continued to do the hard work of remote learning. I am so pleased that we can now invite students in grades 9-12 who selected blended learning in the fall back to the classroom.

As students and staff in other grades have returned to school buildings, we have developed strong practices to help keep school communities healthy and safe, and to maximize in-person learning time for students learning in our buildings. More information about activities, such as sports and extracurriculars, will be shared soon. For now, here is what you need to know about how your school will return to in-person learning:

Weekly COVID-19 Testing and Mandatory Consent

  • All schools will have 20% of students and staff randomly tested on a weekly basis.
  • All students who have not already done so are required to provide consent for testing by their first scheduled in-person learning day in order to learn in person.
  • Families are encouraged to submit consent through your NYC Schools Account at mystudent.nyc prior to their child’s first day of in-person learning.

If you already have a NYCSA account linked to your student(s):

  • Log in, click your student’s name, click “Manage Account,” and then when a dropdown menu appears, click “Consent Forms.”
  • Read the page, and then choose the consent option at the end for your student.

If you do not already have a NYCSA account:

  • You can create one right away! If you have an account creation code from your school, you can create a full account in approximately five minutes, and then provide consent as described above.
  • If you do not have an account creation code from your school, you can still provide your consent right away by clicking “Manage Consent” under “COVID-19 Testing” and filling out your and your child’s information to provide consent.
  • You can also print and submit the form attached to this letter.
  • Students who do not submit consent will be immediately transitioned to fully remote learning.

Learning Preference and In-Person Schedule

Those of you who chose blended learning as your child’s learning preference, either prior to the beginning of the school year or during the November opt-in period, will soon be contacted by your child’s school with their new schedule.

If you previously selected blended learning but wish to stay fully remote, you may do so by changing your preference as soon as possible at nycenet.edu/surveys/learningpreference.

Attendance

Please note that students in blended learning are required to attend in-person on a consistent basis. Your school will reach out if your child is not attending in-person regularly, and will transition your child to fully remote learning if irregular in-person attendance continues. This will allow schools to maximize in-person instructional days for students who are attending in-person.

If You Travel

Spring break begins on Monday, March 29. Please remember that students and staff who have recently traveled outside of New York to a place on the State’s travel advisory list must quarantine for 10 days, or test out of the 10-day quarantine based on the State’s guidance, which can be found at coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory.

  • DOE students continue to have access to priority testing at H+H sites across the city; a list of sites can be found at Covid Testing.

No matter where your child is learning, we are committed to ensuring they receive a strong, supportive education. We know how important school is for your student, whether blended or remote—and our dedication to them remains unwavering during this challenging time.

March 2, 2021: Update for Families

Last Friday, I shared that I will be stepping down later this month, passing the privilege and responsibility of being Chancellor to Meisha Porter, a 20-year veteran of the DOE currently serving as Bronx Executive Superintendent. As Executive Superintendent Porter and I work together on the transition, I want to make sure you are aware of some important opportunities coming up over the next few weeks.

First, I’m beyond thrilled that we have finally reopened our middle schools for in-person learning. This is a milestone I have been looking forward to and I was excited to visit middle schools to see our students and teachers hard at work in healthy, safe, and supportive classrooms. As with our elementary grades, all middle schools have 20 percent of students and staff randomly tested on a weekly basis. Just as in our elementary grades, middle school students must also provide consent for COVID-19 testing by their first scheduled in-person learning day. You can do this through your NYC Schools Account at mystudent.nyc

We are all-hands-on-deck to reopen our high schools as quickly as possible. Our main focus continues to be making sure we have every safety precaution in place, and we will announce a timeline soon.

As we enter the last few months of the school year, I’m pleased to offer several programs and opportunities to further support you and your children. In this Update for Families, you will find important information and resources on:

  • Preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences
  • Applying for Pre-K and 3-K for Fall 2021
  • Participating in “Weekend Wellness” activities for families and communities 

I realize we’re all experiencing pandemic fatigue, but when I see what our students are accomplishing—both in-person and remotely—I am reminded of why we have all worked so hard these past 11 months. My pledge to you is as true today as it was when I began leading the most innovative school system in the nation: that all of us at the Department of Education will continue to deliver the best possible education to all our students, in the safest possible environments. 

Preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences

Beginning Wednesday, March 3, public schools across the five boroughs will host this year’s second round of Parent Teacher Conferences remotely. Your child’s teacher will work with you to schedule a conference at a mutually convenient time. Your child will be dismissed three hours early on the date of their school’s afternoon conferences.

Parent Teacher Conferences provide families with great opportunities to talk with teachers about what their children are experiencing and learning in school. These short meetings also give families and teachers the chance to discuss how to support student learning outside of the classroom. 

We encourage you to use this time to focus on any challenges or concerns your child might be facing in school as we approach the final months of the school year.

Here is the schedule for the spring conferences:

  • March 3: Elementary and K–8 schools, Evening conferences 
  • March 4: Elementary and K–8 schools, Afternoon conferences 
  • March 10: Middle schools and D75 schools and programs, Evening conferences 
  • March 11: Middle schools and D75 schools and programs, Afternoon conferences
  • March 18: High schools, K–12, and 6–12 schools, Evening conferences
  • March 19: High schools, K–12, and 6–12 schools, Afternoon conferences

Please note: 

  • These dates and times may vary by school and grade level. We recommend reaching out to your child's teachers or your school's administration to confirm your school's conference dates and times this month.

For tips on how to make the most of these meetings, visit Parent Teacher Conferences, or the DOE’s official blog, The Morning Bell.

If you need help with the technology, Parent University offers free courses on how to use such platforms as Microsoft Teams, Translator, and its accessibility tools to participate in Parent Teacher Conferences. There, you can also find Google videos on such topics as how to access Google Meet from a Calendar invite and how to translate captions and the chat in Google Meet. Visit Parent University at parent.schools.nyc for more.

Applying for Pre-K and 3-K for Fall 2021 

Children who attend 3-K and Pre-K for All get a strong start in school and life. They learn to problem-solve, ask questions, and explore the world around them. Now more than ever, 3-K and Pre-K for All programs are here to provide children across the city with a safe, nurturing learning community. 

The Pre-K for All application for the 2021– 2022 school year is now open, and the deadline to apply is April 7, 2021. All New York City families with children born in 2017 can apply. There is a pre-K seat for every four-year-old; submit an application for your best chance at getting an offer to a program you want. Learn more at Pre-K.

The 3-K application for the 2021– 2022 school year is also open, and the deadline to apply is April 30, 2021. All New York City families with children born in 2018 can apply. Learn more at 3K.

  • In fall 2021, 3-K for All programs will be offered in Districts 1, 4, 5, and 6 (Manhattan); 7, 8, 9, and 12 (Bronx); 14, 16, 19, 23, and 32 (Brooklyn); 27 and 29 (Queens); and 31 (Staten Island). Children who live in 3-K districts have priority to attend, but families in any district are welcome to apply (you can find out your school district by calling 311 or visiting Find-a-School.
  • In every district, there are 3-K programs available to families who qualify based on income and needs. These programs, including Head Start, are free or low cost and offer year-round care for up to 10 hours a day.

 You can apply to 3-K or pre-K one of two ways:

  • Online with MySchools.nyc. This option is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in English, Arabic, Bangla, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.
  • By phone at 718-935-2009. Call us Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Language supports are available by phone in more than 200 languages.

 

Participating in Weekend Wellness for Families 

 

The Office of School Wellness Programs is partnering with Hip Hop Public Health (hhph.org) for a free, three-part, monthly Saturday morning event series, Weekend Wellness: Self-Care for Communities and Families. We encourage everyone to join us for these Saturday-morning events from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.:

  • March 20: Mental health and physical activity 
  • April 24: Racism and the connection to health/stress 

For more information and to register for these events, visit conta.cc/3u8lqOU

February 26, 2021: Special Update for Families

American Sign Language (video)

I hope you and your families are keeping safe and healthy. I’m writing today with some important news.

After three years leading the DOE, I will be stepping down as Chancellor in March.

I am full of mixed emotions to leave the DOE family. It has been the honor of my career to serve you, and help your child’s school and our whole system get closer to reaching its full potential. The strength and resilience of your children—our 1 million students—is awe-inspiring. It is what drove me through this unprecedented crisis, and it is what I take with me as I leave this post. The commitment and support you have shown to your children, and to your school communities, is incredible.

Throughout my career, my guiding light has been the belief that public education is the most powerful equalizer for children. Public education anchors communities. Public education makes it possible for a child who is poor, or who lives in temporary housing, or—in my own case—who doesn’t speak English when they enter the public school system to develop their dreams, and then to chase them. Truly, it is public education that expresses the highest ideals of our democracy. My time in New York City has only strengthened this belief, as I have seen it play out time and again, in schools all across the boroughs.

And together, we have seen proof. Our seniors kept breaking their own records as graduation rates and college enrollment kept rising higher, and the dropout rate kept getting lower.

We also made true progress in dismantling the structures and policies that are the products of decades of entrenched racism in the city and country. We have worked to undo segregation and turn “equity” from an esoteric concept to a reality. Every school that no longer screens children for admission, and every district that uses DOE resources to create more space for low-income students, or English language learners, is making this mission real.

We finally brought the mental health of our children into the spotlight and made it a major priority so that every child can feel welcomed, comfortable, and safe in their classroom and school community—especially now, when so many of our students are dealing with unforeseeable trauma.

And, of course, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we transformed the nation’s largest school system overnight in order to protect the health of our students, staff, families, and communities. We have reinvented what it means to teach and learn in New York City public schools.

All throughout, I have been proud to prioritize what’s best for kids over what’s politically popular. I have never been afraid of hard conversations. I have always believed that we need to set a high bar for every student—and then do what it takes to help them meet it.

You, your children, and the dedicated staff who serve you deserve both continuity and courageous leadership from your next Chancellor. You need someone who knows firsthand the reality on the ground at our schools, and has the talent and leadership to finish the school year out strong and drive towards bringing every child back to buildings in September.

That is why I am so proud that one of the most important leaders in this work will take on the privilege and responsibility of being your next Chancellor: Meisha Porter.

Meisha is a 20-year veteran of New York City public schools, and currently serves as Bronx Executive Superintendent. In this role, she leads community school districts 7-12, covering the entire borough and its 361 schools and 235,000 students. She is a lifelong New Yorker and product of our public schools who first joined the Department of Education as a teacher at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice—a school she helped conceive. After 18 years at the school, where she became Principal, Meisha spent three years as Superintendent of District 11, serving the Pelham Parkway, Eastchester, and Woodlawn neighborhoods of the Bronx. She has been Executive Superintendent since 2018, and in that time, the students of the Bronx have achieved significant academic gains, and schools have gotten stronger and stronger.

Meisha is an unparalleled warrior for our students and our schools. She attended them, she taught in them, she led them, and now she will be Chancellor for ALL of them. None of the last several Chancellors—myself included—have been actively working with our schools, day in and day out, at the time they were appointed. Meisha will break the mold, bringing all her experience, past and present, to support you and your children. You will be hearing much more from Meisha soon, and I will be working with her over the next several weeks to ensure a smooth and productive transition.

More than anything, I am proud to have served you, and so proud of the strides we have made. I don’t know what’s next for me, but I know I will take the spirit and richness of New York City with me anywhere and everywhere I go.

It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as your Chancellor. I am grateful to each and every one of you.

February 11, 2021: Update for Families

It is hard to believe we are already in the second half of this unusual school year. I am so grateful for your continued perseverance and flexibility during these difficult times, including the added challenges of our recent snowstorms. 

Your voice and leadership are important, and I want to briefly share how you can use them to help our schools and students in a very important way. You can now apply to run for a seat in the coming election for Community and Citywide Education Councils. As a member of a Council, you are a voice for your community—and you can help make a direct impact on education policy. This includes through hosting Town Halls with me, collaborating with superintendents to improve student achievement, and advising on school building changes. 

Each of the 32 geographic school districts has a Community Education Council, and there are four Citywide Councils: High Schools, English Language Learners, Special Education, and District 75. To apply to be a candidate for a council, simply log into your NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) to get started. If you don’t have a NYCSA account, you can sign up for one at the MyStudent page and then contact your parent coordinator to add your students. You can submit your application through February 28

Later in the year, for the first time ever, parents and guardians with a child in a New York City public school will have the chance to vote for their preferred Community Education Council candidates and have a direct hand in shaping important decisions in our city. You need a NYCSA account to vote, so if you don’t have one, again, please sign up at the MyStudent page. Whether as a candidate or a voter, I very much hope you will take advantage of these opportunities to impact our schools.

In other news, I am excited to share that we will be reopening our middle schools for in-person learning on Thursday, February 25. We have developed strong practices to help keep school communities healthy and safe. If you have a student in grades 6-8 and selected blended learning, your child’s principal will reach out with their new schedule. All schools will have 20 percent of students and staff randomly tested on a weekly basis. Students who have not already done so are required to provide consent for testing by their first scheduled in-person learning day in order to learn in person. I encourage families to submit consent through your NYC Schools Account prior to your child’s first day of in-person learning. 

And here’s some good news for families currently applying to middle or high school: We’re giving you more time to submit your applications. The new deadline to apply to middle school is February 23 and the new deadline for eighth- and ninth-grade families to submit their high school application is March 1. As a reminder, you can apply one of three ways: online at the MyStudent page, through your child’s current school counselor, or through a Family Welcome Center.

This is an exciting and important time in our schools, as together we celebrate both Black History Month and Respect for All Week. Our educators and students across the city are engaged in thoughtful exploration of these issues as they connect to our lives and our national experience. Having this conversation deepens our understanding of how we can make progress toward justice and fairness. You can find some great resources to help with these discussions on the DOE’s official blog The Morning Bell and at the Morning Bell NYC Celebrate Respect for All Week page. You can also enroll in courses related to Black History Month on Parent University.

Thank you again for working alongside us as we educate your children. We know how important school is for your student, whether they are learning remotely or in person—and our dedication to them remains unwavering during this challenging time.

I hope you and your families enjoy the upcoming midwinter recess, February 15–19. And Happy Lunar New Year to those who celebrate on February 12!

February 8, 2021: Update for Middle School Families 

American Sign Language (video)

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I am writing to you today with an exciting update: we will be reopening our middle schools for in-person learning on Thursday, February 25.

Since the beginning of the school year, I have heard from many of you who are eager to have your child return to a physical classroom. We are pleased that we can now re-open our buildings to students in grades 6, 7, and 8 in a manner that prioritizes health and safety, while offering the educational experience of learning with our dedicated educators in person. 

We have developed strong practices to help keep school communities healthy and safe, and to maximize in-person learning time for students learning in our buildings. Here is what you need to know about how your school will return to in-person learning:

Weekly COVID-19 Testing and Mandatory Consent 

  • All schools will have 20% of students and staff randomly tested on a weekly basis.
  • All students who have not already done so are required to provide consent for testing by their first scheduled in-person learning day in order to learn in person.
  • Families are encouraged to submit consent through your NYC Schools Account at the MyStudent page prior to their child’s first day of in-person learning.

If you already have a NYCSA account linked to your student(s):

  • Log in, click your student’s name, click “Manage Account,” and then when a dropdown menu appears, click “Consent Forms.”
  • Read the page, and then choose the consent option at the end for your student. 

If you do not already have a NYCSA account:

  • You can create one right away! If you have an account creation code from your school, you can create a full account in approximately five minutes, and then provide consent as described above.
  • If you do not have an account creation code from your school, you can still provide your consent right away by clicking “Manage Consent” under “COVID-19 Testing” and filling out your and your child’s information to provide consent. 
  • You can also print and submit the form attached to this letter. 
  • Students who do not submit consent will be immediately transitioned to fully remote learning.

Learning Preference & In-Person Schedule 

Those of you who chose blended learning as your child’s learning preference, either prior to the beginning of the school year or during the November opt-in period, will soon be contacted by your child’s school with their new schedule.

If you previously selected blended learning but wish to stay fully remote, you may do so by changing your preference as soon as possible at the Learning Preference page.

Attendance

Please note that students in blended learning are required to attend in-person on a consistent basis. Your school will reach out if your child is not attending in-person regularly, and will transition your child to fully remote learning if irregular in-person attendance continues. This will allow schools to maximize in-person instructional days for students who are attending in-person.

If You Travel 

Please remember that students and staff who have recently traveled outside of New York to a place on the State’s travel advisory list must quarantine for 10 days, or test out of the 10-day quarantine based on the State’s guidance, which can be found at the COVID-19 Travel Advisory page.

  • DOE students continue to have access to priority testing at H+H sites across the city; a list of sites can be found here: Covid Testing Sites

No matter where your child is learning, we are committed to ensuring they receive a strong, supportive education. We know how important school is for your student, whether blended or remote—and our dedication to them remains unwavering during this challenging time. 

January 22, 2021: Update for Families

American Sign Language (video)

I hope the new year is treating you and your loved ones well and that your children are settling back into their learning routines. There are a lot of great things happening in our public schools this month! 

First, we are committed to continuing to improve teaching and learning during this unprecedented school year. Your feedback is key to this effort. This week, we launched our new Fall 2020 School Experience Survey to learn about our students’ and families’ experiences with remote and in-person learning this school year. Our goal is to use that feedback to improve learning for the rest of the year. Families of children in grades 3K –12, and students in grades 6–12 can go right now to Fall 2020 School Experience Survey to tell us what you think!

Second, you may be aware that we are making some important changes to our elementary, middle, and high school admissions processes to better serve all our students. These changes will help us continue to move toward a better, more equitable school system that helps every student succeed.

In the Update for Families below, you will find additional information on these new admissions policies, as well as on the School Experience Survey.

In other news, I want to share that we have delivered 450,000 free devices to students since last spring to help them with their remote learning. We have 50,000 more devices on the way. Need a device? Ask your school. You no longer need to fill out an online form; your school will help you through the process to receive one.

The free COVID-19 vaccine is also in the news, and you probably wonder when and where you can get yours. New Yorkers age 65 or older and certain frontline essential workers, including school and childcare staff, are now eligible to get the vaccine. Eligible New Yorkers can reserve their appointment by calling (877) VAX-4NYC or by visiting the NYC vaccine finder page. You can also access up-to-date information about who is eligible anytime at NYC Vaccine Command Center page. COVID-19 vaccines are not yet being administered to children under age 16; however, we will communicate if and when children under age 16 are eligible to receive it.

Thank you again for partnering with us to ensure that all our students receive the best education possible in the greatest city in the world.

Fall 2020 School Experience Survey 

We want to know about your experience with remote and in-person learning during the current school year. Now through February 5, please share your opinions via the survey by visiting Fall 2020 School Experience Survey .

The survey collects feedback from families, students, and teachers about remote learning, communication, technology use, and health, safety, and instruction for those students and teachers who attended school or worked in person at any point this school year. Your feedback will help us understand student needs and improve remote and in-person learning for the rest of the school year.

The survey is open to families and teachers of students in grades 3-K through 12, and students in grades 6–12. The survey is available in English, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu. All feedback provided is anonymous and confidential.

Anyone who cannot complete the survey online can call 311 to find support to complete the survey by phone. The survey closes on Friday, February 5, and we want to hear from you!

Middle and High School Admissions

Middle school applications opened January 14 and high school applications opened January 20. This year we’ve made some changes to better support our students’ learning journeys and to ensure a fairer process for all our public school families.

Middle Schools

Students in their final year of elementary school can now apply to middle school! The deadline to apply is February 9. As the DOE shared in December, middle schools that formerly evaluated (“screened”) applicants for admissions will not use academic records, auditions, or other screens or assessments to evaluate or admit students this year. This pause on screening will be in effect for all 70,000 fifth graders entering middle school this fall.

  • Eligibility requirements (which students can apply to a specific school) and admissions priorities (the order that student groups are admitted to that school) are not changing. Students will continue to have priority to attend middle schools close to where they live or attend elementary school. If any middle school program has more applicants than available seats, offers will be made to that program by lottery and using any admissions priorities the school has (e.g., for students with disabilities or multilingual learners). This is how most middle school programs in New York City already admit students.
  • We will engage school communities to help inform the use of screens for future years.

We decided to pause on middle school screens this year because the measures our screened schools previously used to make admissions decisions were no longer available due to the pandemic. In addition, the COVID-19 health crisis has had a disproportionate impact on our communities of color, immigrant families, and other traditionally underserved communities. Pausing on screens for admissions this year will help create more inclusive learning environments and more opportunities for all our City’s students.

To learn more about middle school admissions, please visit Middle School Enrollment.

High Schools

Now that the high school application is open, you will be able to apply online at the MySchools page or through your school counselor. The deadline to apply is February 23.

Also, if you have not done so yet, you can still register for Specialized High Schools admissions—learn how at Specialized High Schools.

  • To apply to any of the eight testing schools, register as soon as possible to take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. All current eighth-graders who registered by the January 15 deadline will take the test on January 27. You can still register through January 28 to take the test on a later testing date. Registrations will not be accepted after January 28.
  • To apply to LaGuardia High School’s arts programs, register by February 23 to audition for LaGuardia High School. Please note that all auditions (for high school arts programs that use the audition method) will be virtual this year. You can learn more at  High School Auditions.

As part of a larger effort to make the high school admissions process simpler and more equitable for families, geographic (location-based) admissions priorities for high schools will be phased out over the next two years. This means that, after next year, the location of a student’s home cannot alone determine their chances of getting into a certain high school.

Attend Virtual Arts High School Fairs

Interested in arts programs? Join us at any of these events to learn about audition requirements for each discipline, the audition process for this year, and how to submit your audition online. This is also a chance to meet representatives from NYC’s audition schools, including LaGuardia High School. Please note that schools from different boroughs will join and present on different dates. At the end of the event, school and DOE staff will answer your questions.

To learn more about high school admissions generally, visit High School Enrollment.

Changes to Gifted & Talented Programs

Last week, we announced that this will be the last year New York City administers the current Gifted & Talented (G&T) test to four-year-olds. We believe there is a better way to serve our young learners.

  • We will spend the next year engaging communities around what kind of programming they would like to see that is more inclusive and enriching, and truly supports the needs of diversely talented students at different ages.
  • We will also engage communities around how best to integrate enriched learning opportunities to more students, so that every student can access rigorous learning that is tailored to their needs and fosters their creativity, passion, and strengths.

Students currently in Gifted & Talented programs, including those entering programs this fall, will be able to complete their elementary school program. Information on this year’s test will be posted in the coming weeks on the DOE website and shared with school communities.

December 22, 2020: End of Year Message for Families

American Sign Language (video)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Sign Language (video)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why we are making changes? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Sign Language (video)

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

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

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

Here is why. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 15, 2020 : Information on Potential Inclement Weather Closures

American Sign Language (video)

Dear Families, 

I hope you are safe and well.

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

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

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

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

December 11, 2020: December Reopening

American Sign Language (video)

Dear Families,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Submit Consent for In-School Random Testing 

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

There are two easy ways to submit: 

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

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

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

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

 What to Do if Your Child Has Recently Traveled

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can apply one of two ways:

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

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

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

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

How to Learn More About Elementary Admissions 

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

Sessions will be held on the following dates:

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

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

How to Participate in Parent University 

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

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

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

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

Dear Families

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 Testing in School for District 75 Students

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

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

Test Results and Your Child’s Privacy

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

FAQs

How do I submit consent?

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

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

Can my child receive an exemption from weekly random testing?

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

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

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

What happens if I don’t submit consent?

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

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

What about students enrolled in District 75 Inclusion programs?

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

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

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

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

November 29, 2020: Re-opening School Buildings 

American Sign Language (video)

Dear Families,

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

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

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

When can my child return to in-person learning?

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

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

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

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

How do I submit consent?

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

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

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

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

Can my child receive an exemption from weekly random testing?

Exemptions will only be granted in certain limited cases:

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

What happens if I don’t submit consent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Sign Language (video)

Dear Families,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update for Families, November 24, 2020 

 Devices for Remote Learning 

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

 You can also get quick help online:

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

Attendance Requirements for Remote Instruction 

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

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

Grading in the 2020-21 School Year 

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

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

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

How to Provide Consent for In-school Testing

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

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

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

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

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

November 18, 2020: System-wide Building Closure

American Sign Language (video)

Dear Families,

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

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

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

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

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

Devices for Remote Learning 

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

 You can also get quick help online: 

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

Free Meals for Students and Families 

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

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

Learning Bridges 

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

Early Childhood Education 

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Families,

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

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

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

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

Students who are learning in-person will participate in random testing for COVID-19 throughout the school year. Regular testing of staff and students in schools allows us to keep our schools and broader communities healthy and safe. Testing is easy, quick, and safe; this test is a short, small swab (like a Q-tip) that goes just in the front of the nose.

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

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

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

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

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

Past Messages

Sign Language Interpretation

Back to Top