Teaching and Learning 

There are many benefits to in-person learning, and nothing can replace the instruction a student receives in the classroom. Knowing every student well and learning in-person is a critical way to provide a high-quality education. However, because we are in a global pandemic, we also understand that there are varying levels of comfort in returning to school buildings and families are making decisions that are specific to their circumstances and level of comfort.

While there will be some key differences between the learning in a classroom or learning remotely, 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.

How Will My Child Learn at Home?

Whether they are learning remotely from home part of the week or every school day, all City students will receive remote instruction in two different forms: live interaction with a teacher (sometimes referred to as, “synchronous instruction”), and independent learning (also known as, “asynchronous instruction”), which includes assignments, projects, or recorded video lessons. Here is what that means: 

Live interaction means that your student will interact with their teacher via video/telephone conferencing or another interactive medium in real time. During these sessions, teachers may interact with whole classes, small groups, and/or individual students. Live interaction sessions can take place on platforms like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and other DOE-approved digital platforms. 

Examples of the kinds of activities that can take place during live interaction periods include: 

  • Class lessons; 
  • Teacher Office Hours (times during which families can connect with teachers in real time to get help with instructional activities; 
  • Social-emotional wellness activities that promote students’ mental health, such as sharing circles or mindfulness exercises; and 
  • Feedback discussions that provide students and their families with opportunities to discuss their work and academic performance with teachers. 

Live instruction will be delivered in short, grade-appropriate, intervals throughout the day. The following table shows the suggested minimum daily live instruction time students should receive during the first few months of the school year: 

Suggested Minimum Daily Live Instruction 

Grade Level 



November - December 

January - February 


10 minutes 

10 minutes 

10 minutes 

15 minutes 


15 minutes 

15 minutes 

20 - 25 minutes 

30 minutes 

65 - 75 minutes 

70 - 80 minutes 

80 - 90 minutes 

120 minutes 

75 - 85 minutes 

80 - 90 minutes 

90 - 100 minutes 

120 minutes 

80 - 95 minutes 

90 - 100 minutes 

95 - 110 minutes 

130 minutes 


90 - 110 minutes 

110 - 120 minutes 

100 - 150 minutes 

150 - 210 minutes 


80 - 100 minutes 

90 - 120 minutes 

100 - 140 minutes 

150 - 210 minutes 


100 - 120 minutes 

120 - 130 minutes 

130 - 150 minutes 

180 - 210 minutes 

Schools may aim for students to receive the equivalent amount of remote synchronous time across the week rather than a minimum number of minutes per remote day. If necessary, schools may phase-in the daily/weekly synchronous time.

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

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

  • Video lessons or presentations that have been previously recorded; 
  • Activities, assignments, or tasks that build on prior lessons; 
  • Collaborative projects and assignments with classmates; and 
  • Participation in online class discussion boards, and conversation, feedback, or guidance from teachers over email. 

For younger children, independent learning means that your child will not interact live with a teacher. Your child may need an adult’s help in logging onto a device, accessing videos, or doing off-line activities such as reading or doing a hands-on project. This might include: 

  • Watching pre-recorded videos of read alouds or other lessons;
  • Hands-on activities that do not require technology, including reading, science, art, building, or cooking; and 
  • Opportunities to share photos, videos, or anecdotes of your child’s learning experience with his/her teacher and classmates via email or a remote learning platform. 

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  DOE student accounts

Who Will Be Teaching My Child?

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

For Students in Blended Learning

Blended learning refers to a combination of on-site, in-person instruction at the school some days of the week, and remote instruction at home on remaining days. Your child may have different teachers for on-site and remote learning who work closely together in pairs or teams to create meaningful and connected learning experiences. For example, a student may begin a project in person and then continue to work on it while remote. During the remote portion of blended learning, your child will be with the same group of students with whom they attend school in person.

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.

For Students in Full-Time Remote Learning

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

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.

For more information, please see here for our Bridge To School plan.

2020-2021 Grading Policy

As your child’s learning journey continues this year, it is critical that you have a clear picture of their progress. Grades provide a common language for understanding and communicating with your child’s teacher(s) about their strengths and areas for growth. The 2020-21 grading policy aims to provide you with a clear picture of your child’s progress while honoring each individual student’s experience adapting to new ways of learning. 

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

  • Student grades will still be based on academic progress and performance, considering students’ entire body of work in each subject.
  • Schools’ grading policies will reflect the new ways students complete their work in blended and remote learning models. This means flexibility with assignments, giving students different ways to show what they have learned, and more. 
  • While students must continue to participate in remote and blended learning each day, attendance will not be a factor in student grades. Attending school, participating in class, and demonstrating understanding are all essential components of student learning, and school communities must make every effort to ensure that students attend school, with a goal of every student, every day.
  • Each school selects its own grading scale from among several options, but no students will receive failing grades upon initial completion of their courses. Examples of common grading scales include the 1-4 scale, the numerical scale (100 points), and the alphabetical scale (A-D). 

Families have flexibility in determining how passing final grades are reflected on student records. This is an option for families who prefer to have their child’s performance reflected more generally (such as “Pass” instead of a numerical grade) as they continue to adapt to blended and remote learning.

For more information about how your child will be graded this school year, see this letter from Chancellor Carranza or contact your child's teacher. 

Subjects During COVID

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. 

Multilingual Learners​/English Language Learners

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. 

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.​

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.

Students in Temporary Housing and Foster Care

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

For Students and Families

Students who are 21 and Older

If a student turned 21 or older during the 2019 – 2020 school year and they have not yet completed the requirements for a diploma, they may be eligible to return to school for the 2020-21 school year. If you have not been contacted but think your student may be eligible to return to school to work toward their diploma, reach out to the principal at your student’s last attended school.

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