Mayor Bill De Blasio officially shut down New York City public schools as of Monday, March 16, 2020. Since then, he and School Chancellor Richard Carranza have had over five months to plan for how to reopen them in September.
In July, they announced that families would have a choice: They could opt to continue the same 100% learning from home that had been hastily implemented in the spring, or they could choose to attend “hybrid,” meaning a combination of in person and remote instruction.
Without any details about how that would work, which days/times their child would attend, who would teach which classes, whether transportation would be provided, how safety measures would be implemented, etc… parents were ordered to sign up for one or the other by August 7. (Though the deadline proved ultimately meaningless, as they were also told they could switch from hybrid to remote at any time. Switching from remote to hybrid, however, would only be allowed during predetermined periods. Not being fools, the majority of parents opted to take a wait and see approach and not register any response at all.)
Just for context on the “in person learning” @NYCMayor is fighting so hard for. We just got our children’s in person schedule for the first quarter.— (((Daniel Katz))) (@Prof_Katz) August 27, 2020
Thursdays. And 2 Fridays in October.
That is it. This chaotic, detail weak roll out gets them this.
The week that decisions were due, Chancellor Carranza boasted about the “huge amount of effort… getting our schools ready, months and months of preparation, we are sparing no expense, we’re going to do whatever it takes.”
Teachers countered that they, in fact, received “zero training… to make remote learning better.”
As of Monday, August 24, there was still no official start date for the 2020-2021 school year, and the United Federation of Teachers was threatening a “job action” (i.e. strike) unless their list of safety demands were met.
Reports that UFT president Michael Mulgrew was making calls to union representatives in every borough, gathering support for a “job action” (i.e. strike) appeared to spur the Mayor into a flurry of Potemkin action
On Monday, August 24, he announced that all schools – traditional public, public charter, and private – could submit proposals to use outside spaces during the instructional day, whether it be tents set up in playgrounds, closing streets, or taking advantage of parks. (Where would schools get funding for such extras? Carranza suggested utilizing PTA funds. And for schools that lacked such funds, well, uh, maybe other schools would share?)
The fact that principals found out about this from the press conference says it all. More smoke & mirrors. https://t.co/XnDr5tO4dq— Presidents’CouncilDistrict26 (@PCDistrict26) August 24, 2020
De Blasio promised that every school that submitted a proposal by Friday, August 28, would receive a response by the following Friday, September 4.
Yes, that means the DOE would potentially read and review over 1,700 proposals in one week, and respond to each. Does that seem feasible to anyone who has dealt with DOE bureaucracy?
As my rising high school Junior son suggested, “Sure, if they just reject everyone.”
Even that sounds optimistic.
“I’m losing patience, respectively, because so many people don’t know what they’re talking about,” @NYCMayor says when @BrianLehrer tries to ask about equity issues over outdoor learning. “Give me a break.”— Kathleen Culliton (@K_Culliton) August 28, 2020
Then, on Tuesday, August 25, De Blasio announced that he was dispatching over 100 teams of engineers from the School Construction Authority to inspect the ventilations systems of every single building set to welcome students and teachers come September. These new teams would be on top of the teams that he swore had been working tirelessly all summer to… do the same thing.
He promised that every classroom in all 1,600+ buildings (some buildings house more than one school) would be thoroughly assessed within one week. Does that seem feasible to anyone who has dealt with DOE bureaucracy?
“Sure,” my son said, “If they don’t do a good job. Why are you assuming they intend to do a good job?”
Finally, on Thursday, August 27, parents at long last got the answer to the question of: Who Will Teach My Children?
The city is ALSO creating a new job title of “virtual content specialist,” to help provide instructional resources for online learning. Seems that they have not even posted these jobs yet, two weeks out:— Jillian Jorgensen (@Jill_Jorgensen) August 27, 2020
“Additional guidance on posting and filling the role is forthcoming.”
Of course, this approach requires MANY extra teachers — generally, double, although guidance notes some high school level block programming may eliminate need for remote teachers for certain classes.— Jillian Jorgensen (@Jill_Jorgensen) August 27, 2020
Big question is where all this staff is coming from and what it will cost.
The pushback from principals and teachers came instantaneously:
OK. So. Principals have been telling us all day these guidelines are impossible to follow. Now UFT admits they are impossible.Their statement: “Even with this agreement, we don’t have the number of teachers needed to get the job done.” https://t.co/aUbBGyBjkf— Christina Veiga (@cveiga) August 27, 2020
As did the back-pedaling:
Well folks, UFT now says this statement was sent in error and is not their official response. So if you had a rough day at work today, you are not alone. https://t.co/9YAIldcqkd— Christina Veiga (@cveiga) August 27, 2020
“But even with this approach, many schools will still face a staffing shortage, which the system will have to address,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.— Christina Veiga (@cveiga) August 27, 2020
So it’s… basically saying the same thing, just a little less blunt.
So, to summarize:
Schools might reopen on September 10.
“We are moving full speed ahead,” on September 10th reopening @NYCMayor says. Less than two weeks to go!— Jessica Gould (@ByJessicaGould) August 28, 2020
If Gov. Cuomo cuts schools budget by 20 percent, will @DOEChancellor transition to all remote learning, @BrianLehrer asks. @NYCMayor says no. “That’s not affecting what we’re doing right now, right now we’re full speed ahead.”— Kathleen Culliton (@K_Culliton) August 28, 2020
If they do reopen on September 10, in the two weeks preceding (which includes a long holiday weekend), the Department of Education will review and respond to over 1700 plans for outdoor learning (funding sources TBA), examine and certify the safety of over 1600 buildings (methods beyond toilet paper on a stick, TBA), assemble (and recruit from administrative positions and the Absent Teacher Reserve – in the middle of a hiring freeze) several thousand new teaching teams with the help of Virtual Content Specialists not yet hired (funding sources TBA).
All the licensed (inactive) teachers from central, put together, couldn’t staff one large high school. He is off by an order of magnitude. Who, exactly, does BdB’s dissembling (and delusion?) on these numbers serve?— sunsettz (@nemorino_vince) August 28, 2020
MAGIC MATH: City increases maximum remote class sizes to 64 students but still doesn’t have enough teachers, subs or “central office replacements” to cover classes in hybrid model, prompting NYC principals to REPEAT call for delayed in-person reopeninghttps://t.co/yfUnPdpKuH— NY BATs (@NYBATs) August 28, 2020
Does that seem feasible to anyone who has dealt with DOE bureaucracy?
Let us know your thoughts below!