New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said public schools will not fully reopen this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, and that students will instead learn on a "blended" schedule and be limited to a maximum of three days in the classroom, while engaging in remote learning for the remainder of the week.
“This is the single biggest piece of the equation,” de Blasio said during a press conference Wednesday referring to schools. “There are 1.1 million New York City public school students. And the first focus will be on the health and safety, while maintaining a constant understanding that the best way to educate our kids is in the classroom.”
De Blasio rolled out a “blended learning” plan for New York City Public Schools this fall, noting that at some points in the week, students will physically be in the classroom, and at other times they will be learning remotely.
“For the vast majority of kids and schools, you’ll be going to the classroom either two days a week or three days a week, depending on the week,” de Blasio explained. “A typical week will be two or three days in the classroom, in school, the other days will be remote learning.”
De Blasio added that “parents can choose remote learning exclusively,” and that there would be points in the year when those families would be eligible to reevaluate and choose to resume in-person learning.
“This blended, split-schedule model is what we can do under current conditions,” de Blasio said, while touting New York City public school teachers for their ability to “adapt intensely.”
“It has to be the greatest school year in New York City history,” de Blasio said, while noting that remote learning is helpful for students who can “learn at their own pace.”
“There is a lot we can do with online learning that we couldn’t do before,” he said. “We have to look at this as a challenge, but one we can find good and possibility in.”
He added: “New York City students will be learning five days a week, whether in person or at home.”
The de Blasio administration also said it would send “schedules” to families in August so parents “will know which days the students are expected in person.”
De Blasio was asked how the city planned to offer aid to working parents.
"We've got a lot to do here," he said. "I feel for parents who are juggling so much. Child care centers will be open, but we're going to have to figure out more in terms of child care."
He added: "This is something we're going to have to be building as we go along. Some can make it work..some are going to need extra help. We're going to be working in the coming weeks on how to figure out how to help them."
Classrooms will only hold between nine and 12 students for in-person learning, city officials said Wednesday, while noting that the schools will be working on additional models to determine if some students need more in-person learning than others.
"We're going to move heaven and earth to be ready for September," de Blasio said.