Our Planning Process

Family and Student Survey Results

Our families are our partners as we chart this new path forward, and we heard from 300,000 of them—in addition to 110,000 students—in a citywide survey on reopening. The survey findings, along with information from public health experts, will continue to guide our reopening plans.

Health and Safety

  • More than 90% of respondents identified the importance of having cleaning supplies such as hand sanitizer available
  • 48% of student respondents (Grades 6-12) said they were very or mostly comfortable wearing a mask to school every day, along with
    • 43% of families grades Pre-K -2
    • 51% of families grades 3-8
    • 62% of families grades 9-12

Preferred Schedules

  •  53% of parents feel very or mostly comfortable sending their child back to school. 24% feel a little comfortable and 22% feel not at all comfortable.
  • 72% of parents prefer sending their child back to school if safety measures are in place. When presented with the option to alternate days, alternate weeks, or learn at home every day,
    • 48% of students and 53% of families prefer alternating days
    • 25% of students and 26% of families prefer to learn from home every day
    • 25% of students and 19% of families prefer alternating weeks

Student Experience

  • 76% of students and 81% of families identified core instruction areas (math, science, social studies, ELA) as priorities for in-person instruction more than other classes like PE, art and electives
  • 55% of students and 69% of families prefer having a variety of methods to learn at home, including paper packets, live instruction, and one-on-one tutoring

View the complete survey findings.

Planning Considerations

We are doing everything we can to ensure that our students come back to school safely in the fall and that they receive the high-quality education they deserve. However, we must also face some difficult realities, and we are considering numerous factors, including:

Public Health and Safety​

Based on the latest guidance from health officials, the coronavirus will likely continue to be a significant health risk throughout the Fall of 2020.

Pending New York State, CDC, and NYC Health Guidance​

DOE is planning around currently available guidance from health authorities, but updated information and mandates will be available in the coming weeks and months.

Space and Capacity​

Currently, maintaining a distance of six feet between all people in a school building is recommended to reduce the spread of the virus. This means that fewer students will be able to be in a classroom at the same time, reducing the overall capacity of school buildings.


Employees who are at an increased risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19 may be eligible for a reasonable accommodation to work from home/remotely. DOE has a process that allows staff to request reasonable accommodations, such as working remotely, with appropriate documentation. This means that schools may not have all staff available for in person instruction.

Family Empowerment

No two students, and no two families, are the same. We recognize that especially in such an uncertain environment, we must deepen our partnership and trust with families and further empower them to make decisions that are right for them. That is why families will be able to choose if they want their children to attend school in person or remotely, without needing to provide a medical reason. All students will receive a high-quality education no matter what a family decides is best for their child.


Operating transportation services is particularly challenging. Fewer students may be allowed on buses because of social distancing, reducing the capacity of yellow buses. We are working through several transportation options that prioritize health and safety.


New York City is facing a historic economic crisis as a result of COVID-19, and significant budget cuts were enacted across all City agencies. We are planning for a significantly reduced and potentially changing budget. As always DOE prioritizes central budget reductions over school budget reductions and will make health and safety needs the top priority in budget decisions.

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