What We Know
- Parents need consistency to keep their kids focused, schedule childcare, keep life organized; confidence in the safety of their children in their learning environments, and agency in the decisions that will affect their livelihood and families.
- Students need routine in their learning—building habits and academic success through regular pattern and cadence of instruction; support for both academic and social and emotional health.
- Teachers need clear expectations for schedule and pace for working with students so they can maximize support in right modality.
- Principals need flexibility to choose what will work best for their student body and community; need to be able to choose among options.
We also know that New Yorkers can rise to meet the challenge, and that everyone at DOE will be there every step of the way to support our students and families. Please read on for guidance and information about attending a New York City public school in the 2020-2021 school year.
The 2020-21 School Year centers on key values that guide all our work and decision-making. They are:
- Physical and mental health of our students, teachers, staff, and families;
- Greater equity among students with respect to the education they receive and the learning environment in which they receive it—whether virtual or in-person;
- Academic achievement for students through high-quality instruction, tailored enrichment, and culturally responsive educational practices that allow students to see themselves reflected in the materials and lessons of their education;
- Social-emotional and trauma-informed support for all students;
- Community and continuity all year among students, and between students and teachers/staff;
- Priority support for students and families who have trouble accessing and engaging in remote learning;
- Deeper empowerment of our families as essential partners in their children’s education
- Frequent, consistent, and transparent communication with families, schools, and partners;
- Clear guidance for schools in balance with the necessary flexibility to meet the needs of their particular school community; and
- Commitment to continuous improvement; flexibility in response to evolving public health, budgetary, and environmental conditions; and sustained fulfillment of the needs of students, families, and staff.
Health and Safety
We are working closely with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to align efforts and ensure that we are coordinated this school year.
The City announced COVID-19 testing and tracing protocols for all schools on July 30, 2020. Developed in partnership with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), Health and Hospitals, and Labor, these protocols will apply to all school communities and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Our health and safety plans follow current CDC guidance. School buildings promote healthy behaviors and environments by requiring physical distancing, which currently calls for six feet at all times, face coverings where developmentally appropriate while inside buildings, and increasing access to handwashing and sanitizer. Physical spaces are configured to ensure appropriate distances can be maintained, lunch is served in classrooms or requires assigned seating, and each building has an identified Isolation Room in the event someone becomes ill.
Each building is deep cleaned on a nightly basis with electrostatic sprayers, which dispense disinfectant so that it adheres to surfaces without the need to physically touch them. The DOE ordered cleaning supplies for schools before the start of the year, including an initial order of 11,000 cases of hand sanitizer and 100,000 cases of disinfectant wipes, in addition to providing disposable face coverings to students and staff, and many other cleaning supplies. Each school will receive additional supplies on an as-needed basis.
We also continue to monitor testing and screening guidance, and are working with principals to apply best practices for entry and exit protocols. Schools continue to follow health guidance that states the best thing to do is to stay home when sick, and continue to partner with NYC health agencies on contact tracing and follow-up.
Equity and Excellence: Our Continued Commitment
Our vision of educational equity and excellence for all students persists even during this time of crisis. We are laser focused on helping your child achieve academic excellence by providing key academic, social-emotional, and other supports to unlock their full potential to learn—no matter who they are. We remain focused on high-quality, tailored instruction for every student.
Student Schedules & Building Programming
In order to provide the maximum number of students receiving in-person instruction at each school and follow health and safety plans, students rotate in groups between in-person and remote learning. Schools were provided a preliminary estimate of what their space allows taking social distancing into account. These capacity calculations allow for at least six feet of space to be maintained around each person in a classroom, while ensuring that there remains room for teachers and students to circulate.
The Department of Education developed three baseline programming options for schools to choose from. The models were created by analyzing system-wide constraints, researching national and international best practices, surveying parents and students, and by holding focus groups with school leaders and are meant to support schools in determining how to serve the needs of their students and families in line with health and safety guidance. These models apply to Elementary, Middle, and High Schools as noted below. Two additional models are available for District 75 schools.
Family and Community Engagement
As we prepare for a school year like no other in our history, we are prioritizing communicating with families, students and community leaders to ensure they have the information they need. Throughout the school year we will engage all of the stakeholders of our school communities—both centrally and within each school community. Centrally, the DOE will host a series of Family & Student Information Sessions to answer any questions or concerns that families may have. On the local level, Principals continue to plan and develop policy with their School Leadership Teams, and Superintendents will share information and plans with their District Leadership Teams and Community Education Councils.
It is at times like these when we are reminded of the importance of community and helping one another. Schools provide an invaluable service to our communities and should work with all existing local organizations that are also focused on supporting our families. Specifically, we suggest schools:
- Leverage partnerships with School Based Health Center (SBHC) providers, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and other neighborhood partners.
- Build and maintain partnerships with mental health providers.
Please remember to follow DOE’s procurement rules for these types of engagements.