Teaching and Learning 

Throughout the transition to remote learning, our students, families, and school staff have been truly inspiring. Students have shown remarkable flexibility. Teachers have developed new lessons and adapted their previous ones, showing tremendous ingenuity. Parents became co-educators, juggling work and family duties, and displaying a great deal of resilience. We are grateful for the collaboration and partnership.

To facilitate remote learning, students can access multiple educational applications—such as G Suite, Microsoft O365, and Zoom—using secure central accounts. Schools should ensure their students have their DOE student accounts.

Certain students, such as students with disabilities who have 12-month Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and children in 12-month early childhood programs, will begin to receive some services this summer and will begin school with all students in September.

Nuts and Bolts of Daily Learning for Blended and Remote-Only Instruction 

The virtues and benefits of in-person learning are profound, and nothing can replace the instruction a student receives in the classroom. We believe in knowing every student well, and learning in-person is a critical way to do that. But amid a global pandemic, we also understand that there are varying levels of comfort around returning to school buildings and families are making decisions that are personal and specific to their circumstances.

While there will be some key differences between the two learning models, the expectation for high-quality instruction that is culturally responsive and rigorous remain the same as they always have across the board, for all students.

Here’s some important information you need to know about how instruction will work in the 2020-21 school year.

  1. Modes of teaching and learning: Whether your child is participating in blended learning or learning 100% remotely, they will receive instruction through both live interaction with their teachers on video and assignments, projects, and work to be completed independently throughout the course of the school day and week.
  2. Live video instruction: Different amounts of live video instruction are appropriate for different age groups. Live video instruction should be delivered in short intervals (15-20 consecutive minutes) throughout the day for young learners, and can increase based on developmental appropriateness and grade-level. More specifics, including time requirements, will be released in the coming days.
  3. Posting schedules: Schedules for all students – those fully remote as well as those participating in blended learning – will be posted with enough time for parents to plan their work and family commitments accordingly. Schools should provide all students with sufficient time for high-quality interactions with teachers and peers, and overall class schedule and times designated for live video instruction will be posted so students and families can adjust their schedules if needed.
  4. One-on-One Teacher Support: teachers will have 20 minutes of office hours every day to engage students and families via video conference or telephone. Teachers will offer support and guidance and provide updates related to student progress and learning.
  5. Lunch in the Classroom: In-person student lunch will be modeled off of our Breakfast in the Classroom program. This will allow students to eat lunch during one of their regularly scheduled instructional periods, while receiving instruction related to the class scheduled for that time. All health and safety guidelines for in-person learning will be maintained during this time, which will be staggered throughout the school day from 10AM–2PM.
    • a. In elementary schools, students will engage in an instructional activity that is fun, engaging and enriching, such as interactive read-alouds, social-emotional learning, content through music, etc.
    • b. In middle and high schools, students will engage with instruction related to a specific content area.
  6. Community-Building: All students will start and close their day with a routine that builds community, centers the day, and sets them up for success. This will provide all students with the same type of community- and relationship-building that is an integral part of a typical school experience. This may consist of a daily morning meeting where the teacher engages students in activities related to social-emotional wellness and community-building, and a daily closing activity where the teacher recaps the learning for the day, and gets students prepared for the following day.
  7. Social-emotional support: Social-emotional activities should be integrated into academic subjects to the greatest extent possible throughout the day
  8. Teachers: Students engaging in remote learning, will, for the most part, be taught by teachers from their school. While there may be some limited exceptions on a school-by-school basis, parents can expect their children to be assigned teachers from their school when they receive their full schedule before the school year begins.
  9. Grading: Students engaged in remote learning must meet the same academic policies as students engaged in blended learning. Student grades must be based on student demonstration of the learning standards and competencies addressed in the remote or blended course. As with all courses, the NYCDOE subject-certified teacher overseeing the course is responsible for designing or selecting assessments to gauge student progress. These may include projects, exams administered within or outside the online platform, portfolios, and other measures of student mastery.

Blended Learning Supports

Blended learning adds technology, resources, and flexibility to personalize instruction. Students will maximize learning time as more digital content and innovative data resources become available.

​ The DOE will provide supports to schools on:

  • Blended learning models that support instruction to ensure students continue learning whether in school buildings or at home;
  • Using data and tools to understand the individual academic needs of each student, and support students who may have lost learning or skills during remote instruction;
  • Identifying shared, inclusive, and standards-based curricula that schools may use to support learning happening in-person and remotely; and
  • Emphasizing culturally responsive, inclusive and sustaining educational content and practices based on students' racial and cultural identities.

Schools will have the option to use iLearnNYC or Google Classroom to provide a cohesive and consistent student experience. These tools will be available in phases, based on funding availability and other factors.

Subject Areas

Arts Education

The arts—dance, moving image, music, theater, and visual arts—are core content and play an important role in nurturing students’ social-emotional well-being. They will be taught as part of blended and remote learning models in the fall, learn more on the Arts Education page.

Physical Education

Standards-based PE can and must be provided to students to support their academic development and their physical, mental and emotional well-being. Learn about how schools will provide Physical Education. 

Career and Technical Education (CTE)

There are over 130 high schools offering over 290 Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs across New York City public schools, which connect to 16 career clusters and more than 80 specific career pathways or jobs. Students who complete career and technical education programs are better prepared to make informed college and career decisions thanks to the real-world experiences they have in high school.

For the 2020-21 school year, students in all career clusters, in blended and/or remote learning environments, will be exposed to rigorous, industry validated curriculum and authentic work-based learning experiences. We are prioritizing in-person instruction for students participating in automotive/transportation, construction trades and culinary arts programs. These career clusters require hands-on instruction including the use of on-site machinery.

In addition, we are ensuring that seniors in CTE programs receive priority for in-person instruction in career clusters that require clinical hours and professional licensing. This includes fields such as cosmetology, barbering, and healthcare. In each of these cases, precautions will be taken to ensure safe physical distancing. 

Work-based learning experiences—a core component of high-quality CTE—are approved by the New York State Department of Education for remote learning. 

Other health and safety practices, such as minimizing the number of students at work stations to maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet; labeling and individualizing utensils and tools to the extent possible; prohibiting the use of small spaces (e.g. wash stations, freezers, storage rooms) by more than one student at time, will be implemented.

Schools will also make planning time available as needed for CTE educators to work with special education and multilingual learner teams to ensure curricular modifications are serving all CTE students. 

Social-Emotional Learning and Mental Health

The current situation has created incredible strain in our communities. The health and economic implications of the crisis have deep impacts on students and their families. The loss and pain of loved ones all around us are a great source of grief for everyone, and especially for children, who are in key stages of their development.

While all of this has been happening, students have been physically isolated from their school communities, their teachers, their friends and have had very few supports to help them process these traumatic events. Social-emotional learning is critical to the overall health of students and their ability to learn.

In light of this, schools will need to continue to prioritize the following in the upcoming school year:

  • Allow time for teachers, staff and students to readjust to being in school buildings and to adapt to changes;
  • Dedicate the first few weeks of school to providing social and emotional support as part of the school reopening plans;
  • Integrate social-emotional learning and trauma-informed care into core academic instruction; and
  • Prioritize mental health supports throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

Supporting Multilingual Learners​English Language Learners (MLLs/ELLs)

We are committed to providing a high-quality education for Multilingual Learners/English Language Learners in a blended learning environment. Multilingual Learners/English Language Learners will continue to receive supports in their home language in all content areas. These supports will be based on students’ strengths and needs in their language development. 

English Language Learners and former English Language Learners (that exited services in 2019 or later) will continue to receive English as a New Language instruction from a teacher who is certified in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Students in bilingual education programs (Transitional Bilingual Education or Dual Language) will continue to receive instruction in two languages. They will also continue to receive all supports from an appropriately certified teacher. These supports include ENL instruction, Home Language Arts (or second language arts), and bilingual content area instruction. 

The New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) 

The NYSESLAT is given annually to assess the English language proficiency of all MLLs/ELLs enrolled in Grades Kindergarten to 12 in New York State schools. The results of the NYSESLAT determine the types of services MLLs/ELLs receive in their ENL or bilingual education program. 

Due to COVID-19, the annual NYSESLAT was not administered during Spring 2020. As a result, MLLs/ELLs will be served in the 2020-2021 school year according to their English language proficiency level from the 2019-2020 school year when available. An exception to this requirement applies to students who scored “Expanding” on the 2019 NYSESLAT and scored a 65 or higher on the English Language Arts Regents Exam in January 2020 who will exit English Language Learner status and receive former English Language Learner services for the 2020-21 school year. 

The Identification Process for English Language Learners 

The English Language Learner identification process is made up of multiple steps, which begins with the administration of the Home Language Identification Survey (HLIS) and may include the administration of the New York State Identification Test for English Language Learners (NYSITELL) and a parent orientation to the English Language Learner service models provided in NYC DOE schools. 

As a result of the transition to remote learning in Spring 2020, students that enrolled after March 16, 2020 or during the summer, the timeline for the English Language Learner identification process has been extended to 30 school days after the start of the 2020-2021 school year. 

For students who are matriculating into kindergarten or students who enroll within the first 20 school days of the 2020-2021 school year, the timeline for the English Language Learner identification process is also extended to 30 school days within the student’s first day of enrollment. Students that enroll after the twentieth day of school will complete the identification process within the typical timeline. 

After schools notify families of their student’s eligibility for English Language Learner services, students and families have the right to request an appeal of their child’s ELL status determination. Schools will then begin the Re-identification Process, which includes a review of all documents related to the ELL identification process and timeline, a review of the student’s work, and consultation with the family. For students that enroll between March 16, 2020 and the twentieth school day of the 2020-21 school year (including those matriculating into kindergarten), the timeline to complete the Re-identification Process has been extended from 45 school days to 60 school days. After the English Language Learner identification process, families will receive written notice, in their preferred language, stating whether their child is entitled to ELL services. To request an appeal, families must send a written request to their school.

Students with Interrupted/Inconsistent Formal Education (SIFE) are English Language Learners who have attended schools in the United States for less than 12 months and who, upon enrollment, are 2 or more years below grade level in literacy and math in their home language. The days school buildings are closed do not count towards the 12-month window for the SIFE identification process. 

Supporting Students with Disabilities​

Delivering high quality Special Education programs and related services, providing accessible curriculum and interventions, student accommodations and specially designed instruction remain at the forefront of the planning to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities in a blended learning environment.​ Additionally, students receiving teletherapy will have the option to continue receiving services remotely. We are also exploring ways to increase in-person services to students this summer and next school year.

Supporting Early Childhood Populations

We know that high-quality remote learning for young children looks different than for older children, and that families need additional supports to remain engaged with their school community, and we will continue to build on the practices implemented in spring 2020. We will continue to share resources directly with schools and families to support developmentally appropriate learning and play at home.

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