Students in New York City will receive in-person instruction two or three days a week, city officials announced Wednesday.
Social distancing recommendations mean most schools won’t be able to have all their students in the building at the same time, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“The approach we will use is blended learning. And blended learning simply means that at some points in the week, you are learning in-person in the classroom, at other points of the week, you’re learning remotely,” he told reporters.
Schools have been closed in the city since March 15.
Most students will be in school in two or three days a week. The number of days of in-person learning will depend on the week, with the plan now for students to alternate between weeks of two and three days of in-person instruction.
As of now, there will be nine to 12 students at a time in each classroom, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said.
Families are also free to choose 100 percent remote learning, he added.
“The first focus will be on health and safety, while maintaining constant understanding that the best way to educate our kids is in the classroom,” de Blasio said.
The city’s public schools serve 1.1 million students.
According to a recent city Department of Education survey, 75 percent of families want to send children back to school.
The announcement came just before New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a separate briefing that it’s still unclear which school districts will be allowed to reopen.
Districts will submit plans on how they would reopen on July 31. State officials will decide during the first week of August whether or not the schools will reopen, Cuomo, a Democrat, said.
“We will open the schools if it is safe to open the school,” Cuomo said. “Just to be clear, the federal government has no legal authority when it comes to schooling,” he added, referring to President Donald Trump’s push to have schools fully reopen in the fall.
Besides attempting to keep six feet of distance between each person inside schools, officials will require face coverings inside buildings, place signs and floor markings around the facilities, and provide hand sanitizer and other ways to keep hands clean, according to a presentation Carranza gave to principals last week.
Each building will be deep cleaned every night with electrostatic sprayers.
Decisions on when to test students or staff haven’t been finalized.
The city Department of Education is partnering with NYC Health + Hospitals to trace contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19.
The reopening schedule started July 7 with schools being given initial guidance; another round was planned for Thursday, and a third round for July 16.
Families can sign up for remote-only learning on July 15. The sign-up period will end on Aug. 7. Schools will submit their initial choices for how the weekly schedules will work on July 23 and the final choices on Aug. 14.
Parents will receive clear schedules for their children after that.
Families who choose fully remote learning can opt back into in-person instruction on a quarterly basis, while parents can choose to move from in-person instruction to remote instruction at any time.
The first day of school will be in September, with contingency plans in place to close schools if there’s a resurgence of the CCP virus.