Updated Sept. 17: Mayor Bill de Blasio and unions representing teachers, staff, and administrators have announced a new plan for phased reopening of schools. Below are the new start dates.
The specifics of the school’s reopening, along with students’ in-person learning schedules, will be left up to the state’s 700 school districts, as long as they stay within the state’s guidelines.
De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s reopening “Back to School Pledge” outlines the City’s safety and health commitments to students, parents, and the school community prior to the start of the 2020-2021 school year. The pledge includes:
- Health and safety always come first
- NYC public schools will be cleaned and disinfected, day and night
- Students will learn five days a week
You can read the full pledge here.
“Getting our kids back to school successfully and safely is the single biggest part of restarting our city. Parents have spoken clearly—they want their children back in school buildings to the greatest extent possible,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an update. “Our approach for the fall maximizes in person instruction while protecting health and safety of our students and educators.”
2020-2021 NYC Public School Calendar
- Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 16-18: Fully remote, partial school days for students
- Monday, Sept. 21: First full day of school; blended learning starts for 3-K, Pre-K and District 75
- Tuesday, September 29: blended learning starts K-5 and K-8 schools
- Thursday, October 1: Blended learning starts for Middle & High School, Secondary Schools, and Transfer/Adult Education.
- Monday, Sept. 28: Yom Kippur, schools closed
- Monday, Oct. 12: Columbus Day, schools closed
- Tuesday, Nov. 3: Election Day, fully remote instructional day for all students
- Wednesday, Nov. 4: Evening parent teacher conferences for elementary schools and K-8 schools
- Thursday, Nov. 5: Afternoon parent teacher conferences for elementary schools and K-8 schools; students in these schools dismissed three hours early
- Wednesday, Nov. 11: Veterans Day, schools closed
- Thursday, Nov. 12: Evening parent teacher conferences for high schools, K-12, and 6-12 schools
- Friday, Nov. 13: Afternoon parent teacher conferences for high schools, K-12, and 6-12 schools; students in these schools dismissed three hours early.
- Wednesday, Nov. 18: Evening parent teacher conferences for middle schools and District 75 school programs
- Thursday, Nov. 19: Afternoon conferences for middle schools and District 75 school programs; students in these schools dismissed three hours early
- Thursday-Friday, Nov. 26-27: Thanksgiving Recess, schools closed
- Thursday-following Friday, Dec. 24- Jan. 1: Winter Recess, schools closed
- Monday, Jan. 18: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, schools closed
- Monday, Feb. 1: Professional Development Day for 9-12 and 6-12 schools in Districts 1-32 only; students in these schools do not attend. Students in K-5 and D75 schools and programs are in attendance.
- Friday, Feb. 12: Lunar New Year, schools closed
- Monday-Friday, Feb. 15-19: Midwinter Recess (includes President’s Day and Lincoln’s Birthday), schools closed
- Wednesday, March 3: Evening parent teacher conferences for elementary schools and K-8 Schools
- Thursday, March 4: Afternoon parent teacher conferences for elementary schools and K–8 schools; students in these schools dismissed three hours early.
- Wednesday, March 10: Evening parent teacher conferences for middle schools and district 75 schools and programs.
- Thursday, March 11: Afternoon parent teacher conferences for middle schools and district 75 schools and programs; students in these schools dismissed three hours early.
- Thursday, March 18: Evening parent teacher conferences for high schools, K–12, and 6–12 schools.
- Friday, March 19: Afternoon parent teacher conferences for high schools, K–12, and 6–12 schools; students in these schools dismissed three hours early.
- Monday-Friday, March 29-April 2: Spring Recess, schools closed
- Thursday, May 13: Eid Al-Fitr, schools closed
- Monday, May 31: Memorial Day, schools closed
- Thursday, June 3: Anniversary Day. Chancellor’s Conference Day for staff development. Students not in attendance.
- Tuesday, June 8: Clerical Day for K–5, K–6, 6–8, and K–12 and D75 schools and programs only; students in these schools do not attend. Students in 9–12 and 6–12 schools in Districts 1–32 are in attendance.
- Friday, June 25: Last day of school for all students.
How the 2020 NYC School Year Will Be Set Up
In New York City, classroom attendance will be limited to 1 to 3 days a week (depending on the school’s student body size), likely with no more than 12 people allowed in one classroom at a time. Rest assured, “Schools will be in session five days per week. Students will be learning five days per week, no matter where they are,” Carranza said in an Aug. 10 briefing.
The NYC DOE created three models of in-person instruction that schools can choose from, based on the size of and what works best for the student body, along with an all-remote learning model parents can choose for any reason:
- Model 1: “Students will receive in-person instruction for the same two days every week, as well as every other Monday.”
- Model 2: Students will receive in-person instruction 1-2 days a week.
- Model 3 (available to middle and high schools only): Allows “students to be in-person two days and remote four days in a six-day cycle.”
District 75 schools will have two additional model options. Students with IEPs will be offered in-person instruction to the fullest extent possible. Multilingual students, Carranza said, will receive instruction that will keep them progressing in both languages.
The deadline to enroll in remote-only learning for September was Aug. 7, but once the school year begins, you can choose to go fully remote at any time. We now know that 74 percent of NYC students will participate in in-person learning and 26 percent will begin the school year in fully remote learning. “We can expect about eighty-five percent of our teacher workforce or about sixty-six thousand educators to be teaching in a blended mode as well,” Carranza said in the Aug. 10 briefing. Approximately 15 percent of teachers have requested to work from home. “Those who are granted that accommodation will exclusively teach remotely but…they will still be engaged and devoted as ever to educating the children of New York City, because that’s who they are,” Carranza said.
In addition, more than 300,000 iPads have been distributed to those who need them to help provide a quality, online academic experience for New York City students. NYC teachers are also being trained to be more effective online instructors. According to Carranza, the curriculum will be updated to reflect the blended learning model and to “include appropriate social-emotional learning and mental health supports.”
How NYC Public Schools will Keep Students and Teachers Safe
“There’s a lot of things that will change, but what will not change is our fundamental commitment to our children,” de Blasio said in the Aug. 10 briefing. “We’ve set very stringent standards. We have to meet those standards. If at any point the situation changes, I’ll be the first to say it. But so long as we can meet those standards, we’re going to be ready to serve our kids in September.”Here are some key things to know about how NYC’s public schools will keep everyone safe:
Face masks and social distancing are required.
All people in every school building will be required to wear face coverings and stay 6 feet apart from others. Disposable masks will be provided to whoever needs them. According to de Blasio, 4 million face masks will be distributed to NYC schools along with 210,000 safety signs to enforce social distancing. Carranza told parent leaders that students who refuse to wear masks in school, with the exception of those who can’t wear them for health or developmental reasons, will be sent home and prohibited from in-person learning, reports Chalkbeat.
The schools are severely limiting the number of students in the classroom at one time with the in-person learning models outlined above. Plus, the DOE is in talks with the diocese and archdiocese to use some of the former Catholic school buildings to give the public schools more room to spread out, according to de Blasio.
Schools will have hygiene supplies on hand.
The DOE is purchasing large orders of hygiene supplies for schools, including face coverings for students, teachers, and staff; disinfectant; and electrostatic sprayers. 3.5 million bottles of hand sanitizer and 80,000 canisters of disinfectant wipes will be distributed to NYC schools, along with 7,350 maintenance staff working to disinfect schools nightly. Schools will be disinfected with electrostatic disinfecting sprays. De Blasio also announced that every school building in New York City will have a certified nurse by the fall.
Systems will be upgraded so buildings have better ventilation.
“Everyone in the school building is working with extraordinary energy, including the custodial teams, School Construction Authority, everyone, to maximize health and safety in the building, and ventilation is absolutely a part of the puzzle here,” de Blasio said of ensuring every classroom is safe and has proper ventilation. “If any classroom we feel is not fit, we simply won’t use it. We’ll just segment it off and keep going until we do feel it’s ready to go.” He also mentioned that in warmer weather, classrooms will have windows open to the maximum extent possible to improve the circulation of fresh air.
The Department of Education is establishing a new hotline for principals to call should they need to expedite the delivery of any of these materials. According to Chancellor Carranza, unannounced spot inspections of schools will be done to monitor the safety of each building.
Parents won’t be allowed in school buildings, for the most part.
When asked about separation and issues with preschoolers transitioning into the school day, de Blasio said we have to be careful about parents coming into school buildings, so it largely won’t happen. “I can tell you many scenes from the childhoods of my children, where I thought in their youngest years, they were going to have a horrible separation experience and I was ready to stick with them and help them through, and what quickly became apparent is they couldn’t wait to see their friends, and they said a very quick goodbye to me and ran into the classroom,” he said. “Our youngest kids are incredibly adaptable. …The first days as always will be a little bit challenging, but then we’ll find a way to make it work.”
Test and trace protocols are in place.
On July 30, Carranza and de Blasio announced test and trace protocols that will apply to all school communities and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. All staff members will be asked to take a COVID-19 test in the days before the first day of school and will have priority for free, expedited testing at 34 city-run testing locations. All schools will be required to enact precautions to help prevent, identify, and address the spread of COVID-19, including:
- An isolation room for students with symptoms with a staff member or health professional
- Physical distancing and face coverings
- Cleaning throughout the day and nightly disinfecting
- Clear communication with families and the school community
If a student or teacher feels sick, they have to stay home and, if their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, get tested. If a student feels symptoms while at school, they will be isolated by a dedicated staff member until they are picked up by their parent. Staff members who became symptomatic at school must immediately leave the building.
“On top of having the medical personnel available to each school, we’re going to have a very strong presence in our schools, from the Test and Trace Corps as well, to make sure in the event of any case that there’s immediate follow-up at the school level,” de Blasio said.
The DOE is working with DOHMH and the NYC Test + Trace Corps to facilitate fast action and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Decisions to quarantine classrooms or close schools will be based off of the conclusions of potential investigations. The details of potential investigative conclusions are outlined below:
“If something happens and there’s a spread, the state will step in and we will close the school,” says Cuomo. “But, we don’t want to get to that point. That’s exactly what we want to avoid. And that’s why the plan is so important.”
Parents might be concerned about how their kids will handle going back to school, and Carranza noted that schools will integrate social-emotional learning and “trauma-informed care” into instruction and prioritize providing students with mental health support. We will share more details on these plans as they become available.
Bookmark this page on your browser to check back for more information as the summer progresses. The DOE will also host a series of Family & Student Information Sessions, Carranza’s document says, to answer any questions you might have. You can follow Staten Island Parent for school updates as well, and subscribe to our newsletter. This school year will be an unprecedented one, but we’re here to help you figure out the best decisions for your family.
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