New York City schools will eliminate remote learning, be 100% in person in the fall

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New York City has recently reopened with restaurants, salons and other businesses being allowed to go back to 100% capacity. Many tweets over the weekend spoke of NYC looking and feeling like NYC once again. Not only are NYC business resuming at full capacity, Mayor Bill DeBlasio pivoted on his decision to offer both remote and on campus learning for the public school system come fall. Next September, remote learning will be 100% eliminated and all school will take place on campus.

New York City will no longer have a remote schooling option come fall, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday, in a major step toward fully reopening the nation’s largest school system.

This school year, most of the city’s roughly one million students — about 600,000 of them — stayed at home for classes. When the new school year starts on Sept. 13, all students and staff will be back in school buildings full-time, Mr. de Blasio said.

“This is going to be crucial for families,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “So many parents are relieved, I know.”

New York is one of the first big U.S. cities to remove the option of remote learning altogether for the coming school year. But widespread predictions that online classes would be a fixture for school districts may have been premature. Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey announced last week that the state would no longer have remote classes come fall, after similar announcements by leaders in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

New York City’s decision will make it much easier to restore its school system to a prepandemic state, since students and teachers will no longer be split between homes and school buildings.

[From The New York Times]

The article said DeBlasio’s decision to eliminate remote learning was made after the Pfizer vaccine was approved for children age 12-15. It is due to the outcry that most feel the online learning is inferior. However, many think that is DeBlasio’s fault for not doing enough to make online learning effective. It sounds devastatingly hard to run two systems, online and in person, so the minute they could eliminate one, they did. I think that’s why districts are making this decision. Our district has made the same decision. In Los Angeles Unified, it’s the parents who are demanding all students return to the classroom, but for the same reason – the remote education is so far inferior to the classroom education. An inferior education is a good argument to close down remote learning.

The article discussed the precautions that will be in place. I’m sure the schools are cleaned efficiently but the kids don’t distance. The best bet is going to be the vaccine and symptom check. There’s no mention whether the school system will insist students provide proof of vaccination or what they’ll do if a student is not vaccinated. This is a hard call. I’ve seen, unfortunately firsthand, the mental distress the pandemic/remote learning has put on kids. Our school district and I know LAUSD were absolutely unprepared to go online in March of 2020. Although I recognize everyone tried their very best, regrettably, things weren’t much better this year. And this blended learning has utterly baffled me. But it scary to think there is no option for those most at risk. And I recognize it is easier for me to accept school campus return considering I live in an area in which most parents are vaccinated and vaccinating their eligible children.

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38 Responses to “New York City schools will eliminate remote learning, be 100% in person in the fall”

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  1. Seraphina says:

    Hectate I am with you on this one. I need one of mine to be in school because remote learning did her no favors. But you bring a valid point that I too live in an area where most will be vaccinated. A difficult decision to make. Much respect to all educators out there – the pandemic has not made life any easier. And if there are any reading this post – THANK YOU!

  2. Izzy says:

    The only way in-person learning works with kids, in terms of infection prevention, is with absolute enforcement. Strict, closely monitored, ZERO exceptions. My stepmom is a school nurse is a private pre-K through grade 5, and she was on their task force and helped set and enforce guidance there. She NEVER deviated, and even being that strict, classes regularly had to go to remote learning for a week to ten days at a time because someone in the class was exposed or sick, and thus exposing the rest of the class. She has barely managed to stay ahead of it and keep the school open since they went back to hybrid classes. In person is better, but the risks always have to be mitigated as much as possible. If they don’t do that, they’re in for a rough year.

    • readingissexy says:

      This is what I fear—-school districts will open and within a month they will have to go online for a week. And then that will happen again, again, and again until they just have to be online? I definitely see why they are opting for the fully in-person classes, but gosh, the stuff happening in Singapore, for example, does not bode well for fall in-person learning.

      And one thing about online learning being inferior–I don’t disagree, but I do feel for teachers and even the administrators. The only way to make online learning better would be to hire a team of instructional designers to design all of the teachers lesson plans and assignments and to also teach the teachers how to interact online. And when would teachers even have time to do that during a pandemic? And that’s not even addressing the inequity issues with students having unreliable online access. Honestly, teachers and school districts were put in an impossible situation.

      (I teach college and just spoke to an older generation colleague who told me this past year was literally the worst teaching year of his life. He feels really depressed about it because he doesn’t know how to effectively online teach.)

  3. Becks1 says:

    Apparently my county is planning on keeping a virtual learning option but it will be completely separate from the in-person learning – you can’t switch back and forth between the two – and it will be run by different teachers than the classroom teachers. I think that sounds like a decent compromise if you have a student that you don’t want to send back to the classroom (maybe compromised immune system, etc) or if there is a student who did thrive in the virtual setting.

    My boys have been back 4 days a week since March, the big complaint comes from my kindergartener bc he says the teacher pays more attention to the kids at home than the kids in the classroom. I take this with a grain of salt, because he’s the kind of kid who gets upset every time he isn’t called on, lol, but I do think it could be partly true because she has to work harder to keep the kids at home engaged (at any age that would be true, but especially kindergarten….) In general our teachers have done a great job with the hybrid program and when we were fully virtual, I’ve been very impressed with how they have handled it.

    What I did like about the virtual option is if my child is somewhat sick one day – not super sick but just a bad cold or something – I could keep them home for the day to prevent the spread of germs and they wouldn’t fall behind on work. (I’m not making a child sick with the flu log onto virtual classes, lol.) We also still had snow days this year but they said they would just switch to virtual if we used all our snow days (so we have 5 built in, we used 4, but if we had used all 5 and then needed to take additional time off, they would have switched to virtual for those additional days.) I thought that was a good compromise – students still got the traditional snow days, but it didn’t mean they have to go longer in the summer.

    All that to say that I can see a benefit in keeping some type of virtual component that can be utilized as needed, but I don’t know how that would work without being a total shitshow lol. Our county will definitely be back 5 days a week next year and I’m just hoping that younger kids can be eligible for the vaccines by the winter.

    • Sarah says:

      Our board is also keeping a virtual option that you can opt into at the beginning of the year. You can’t switch back and forth though. They said they were keeping it because some families found it really helpful for them. My kids like in person school so we won’t be using that option.

    • Christine says:

      That blows. My son’s school has gifted all of us parents a different teacher for online and in-person classes, so there is no delay dealing with one or the other. It definitely does not work when one teacher is teaching kids at home and in person, even a tiny little bit. One group will always go off the rails when the other is getting attention. It’s exactly like having two toddlers at home, with different needs.

  4. Lucy2 says:

    We’re dropping all restrictions here…just in time for Memorial Day, which makes me wonder if I’m really ready for that step or are we just fully opening to signal beginning of summer.
    We’re about 50% fully vaccinated, almost 60% with at least with us. I really wish those numbers were higher.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      Given that I live in Texas where the entire RepubliCAN’TS legislature still drag their knuckles on the ground, I applaud NY for being so proactive during the pandemic. Cuomo was on the TV telling the citizens bout the pandemic and the daily updates as to infections, treatment and hospitalizations. Where in Texas, all we have had is crickets!! Not only that, but we have had an entire collapse in the fight against the pandemic. Don’t get me started on the right to carry a gun without a permit and the attack on abortion rights. But Texas has been a pandemic disaster, from vaccination and mask measures. I can’t wait to move away from this state!
      Anyway, I applaud ALL of the teachers and their supporting staff!! They have had such a hard time to teach remotely. But I feel a greater empathy for students. The lack of technology, then they have no reliable access to the internet. The students are the ones that have suffered the most. I would hope that schools use this time to encourage counseling to students as well. This year has been so traumatic for them as well. I have read stories were students have dropped taking classes to help support their families as their parents have lost jobs and they feel the need to chip in. Or the fact that they have not had the necessary exposure to other students or having to rely to online learning and not being able to keep up with the work or feel overwhelmed.
      It’s been a terrible time for everyone, but children have experienced the worst of it as it comes from all directions. Either lack of WiFi or not being able to engage with their teachers. It’s no ones fault in regards to this unprecedented time but states, like Texas, should have stepped up their game to help out more.

      • sassafras says:

        I live in Texas too and all the districts (AFAIK) had options for both online and in class learning. Our district’s COVID numbers were fairly manageable with the systems they put in place. I totally understand NY and LA are completely different in many ways, but I do think that states should be reaching out (even to Texas) and figuring out best practices as we go forward. Honestly, all the things that our school put into place to handle Covid should be done to contain all transmissible diseases in the future. And online learning – in some fashion – should remain a thing to encourage sick students to stay at home without having to lose progress.

  5. outoftheshadows says:

    Since there is no vaccine for all the elementary aged children, I think this announcement is premature and irresponsible. They are claiming there is enough space to distance, but this year my daughter’s class has 32 students. Fortunately I am working from home in the fall, so I can home school my kid if necessary. My neighborhood has a substantial percentage of non vaccinated people and I expect their kids will infect other kids. Last year the city government botched absolutely everything about the education rollout, and they kept changing their minds all year…

    I really don’t think it is a great idea to reopen without any remote option unless vaccines are available and required for all public school children.

    • Hannah says:

      Completely agree. Unless vaccines are available and required for the kids, it’s asking for trouble. Other vaccines are required, so why not this one?

    • Michelle says:

      I find it really baffling that virtual is being completely dropped in places when the vaccine for 12 and under hadn’t been worked out. My husband and I are planning on sending our kids back with the understanding that if I think anything is not up to standard, I’m just pulling them out. Not everybody has the option.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      This is a position that parents should not be put into the position of. Schools require immunizations for all other treatable diseases, they should make the coronavirus vaccine mandatory as well.

  6. LMG says:

    Teacher here – been in person the entire school year. I had exposure several times during one of the surges but distancing and masking worked! I never got sick. We also had no in school transmission (it was all from contact sports – I’m in MN where hockey is a religion – and kids hanging out outside of school at sleepovers….where they didn’t wear masks). It was super super scary, but I think we really can bring kids back to school safely. The learning loss is astounding and very, very real, and the achievement gap is only getting worse. :(

    • Twin falls says:

      “The learning loss is astounding and very, very real, “

      This is my heading into second grader who still can’t read but was 100 percent on track with no learning disabilities pre-pandemic. We stayed fully remote until March and he now gets 4 mornings in person.

      My middle schooler just stopped turning in assignments this semester with no real explanation. His motivation just disappeared. So now I’m logging in daily, checking on how he’s doing, making sure he’s doing his daily work and assignments, all of those helicopter-y mom things that aren’t healthy for either of us.

      The neighboring school district just laid of 20 percent of their teaching staff because so many families left either to home school or move to private schools that have in person teaching.

      • LMG says:

        It’s not helicopter-y if you kids needs it – that’s called good parenting. Stay strong! Hope things get back on track next year for you and your family. Everyone is doing the best they can. Don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re clearly invested, so your kids will turn out ok in the end. <3

      • Twin falls says:

        @LMG thank you

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ LMG, please accept my deepest appreciation for the hard work that you do every day!! Teachers are critical to our children’s lives and all of you make a significant impact in their daily lives. I applaud you for your compassion and dedication to ride each day to make the best day for students day after day. Thank you for your tireless work and compassion!!

    • sassafras says:

      100%. The outbreaks at our school district in Texas were in large part due to indoor sports/ high school parties. Both of which… well, one is manageable and the second is unavoidable anywhere. Schools can be brought back safely. It’s not necessarily a disaster waiting to happen.

    • Krissy says:

      We made the decision to send our first grade son back to school in-person last fall. We had the option for virtual (our district created an entirely separate virtual school permanently) but it wouldn’t have worked for any of us.

      Our district was very on top of things: desk shields,masks to be worn in groups or when not sitting at desk, frequent handwashing, very stringent cleaning protocols, etc.

      I am happy to say that there were only a few positive cases all school year and no shutdowns at all. (And this is in SC where it was an absolute disaster for quite awhile). I do believe the masks and handwashing worked! My son has not missed one day of school from illness and he ALWAYS gets sick at least a few times per school year.

  7. Em says:

    First off, well done to all the teachers (and parents) here who made it through this. You guys are incredible. I have no children, and no sense of how this affected you guys, but I know how this affected me as a financially stable adult whose work and school continued normally (I was always online) and I couldn’t handle this pandemic. I can’t even imagine what you went through.

    Just wanting to remind everyone that England has reopened (I just left there a few months ago to return to Canada) and they are in single digit deaths everyday with the vaccine. This works, we can move forward. There will still be issues, no question, but we are really at a best case scenario point – especially come September. It’s going to be more or less okay. Well done everyone, this was a shit show.

  8. Larisa says:

    I don’t know, my school was NOT properly cleaned even pre-pandemic. The janitor assigned to my classroom swept the floor for big trash and that’s it. When a kid once spilled juice at the end of the day, the sticky stain was still there in the morning, after “cleaning”, I had to get on my hands and knees and clean it with hand wipes. And during the flu season, I had to wipe down desks, chairs, and handles every day myself (and purchase wipes for that – at least back then they weren’t hard to find). I have 0 confidence that the janitor would have stepped up in such a major way this year. None.
    I also read all the time how exhausted all the teachers are from reminding kids to wear masks. Some of their own colleagues undermine them by wearing a mask under the nose or letting kids take them off in their classroom. Everyone reports it being one gigantic uphill battle. I’ve literally maybe seen 1-2 colleagues who said “our school doesn’t mess around with mask violations, so nobody tries”, they are a tiny minority.
    In other words, this worries me, with so many kids still unvaccinated and mask mandates being lifted.

  9. salmonpuff says:

    My husband is a teacher, and he’s pulling for all in-person this fall. He worked so hard at online teaching, and did it well from my perspective as a mom of three who experienced ALL of my kids’ teachers at one point or another over this year. He teaches middle school, and it is really hard to get middle school kids engaged in person. Online, they just checked out. He has zero interaction. And without the peer pressure of in-person school, a certain percentage of kids just refused to do anything at all. It was demoralizing. He was so joyful when they went back to hybrid and he got to see them for real!

    Having seen/heard all my kids’ teachers, it’s clear some put in a LOT of work to try to make online classes engaging and productive and some teachers…did not. Just like the kids, I suppose. My kids are all vaccinated, so I don’t worry so much about in-person school, and I cannot wait until I get my three out of the house and back into a routine. They’re all depressed and anxious and need more going on! I’m not sure how I would feel if I had littles who were unable to get vaccinated, but I think as long as teachers and parents are vaccinated and kids wear masks, in-person is probably better because the mental health tolls of this past year have been brutal.

    • LMG says:

      AMEN! I teach middle school kids as well – we had 3 virtual days and it was night and day difference from what the kids did in person. I was terrified all summer and ready to quit teaching rather than go back in person, but I am SO THANKFUL we ended up going back. Distance learning is not why I became a teacher. I wish I could send my last summer’s self a message from the future saying not to be afraid – I would have saved me so so much worry and anxiety.

      • salmonpuff says:

        You middle school teachers are so amazing!! That is a hard group to crack! :) I’m glad you’re feeling good about being in person and back to enjoying it. It was so great to see my old husband that first day back…distance learning sucked for him!

      • Imara219 says:

        Ahh LMG I’m sorry your virtual teaching experience sucks. I truly loved teaching online this past year. I loved more aspects of it and when we returned I was devastated.

  10. Cleo17 says:

    I am so worried about my little girl starting kindergarten this fall. We live in a red state area, and I know a lot of people aren’t vaccinated.

    • Imara219 says:

      What are the mitigations in place? Public schools in my area are better prepared than actual businesses. My son (4) is attending Prek4 with a Child Care Academy. I called and asked about their policies. And apparently, they make sure the local Health Dept is constantly sending reps to check on their procedures.

    • Gab says:

      She will probably be eligible by the fall. Once she’s vaxxed, you will feel better.

  11. JanetDR says:

    I’m in N.Y. state in a fairly rural area. I just went back to work in my special ed preschool last week. (Speech Path). I don’t know if we have had much in the way of child to child transmission, when a classroom goes home due to exposure I think it has been more of a case of gatherings outside of school (child or staff). We do have smaller classrooms and have gone extra small for this year,8 kids for the self contained classes with more time in our schedules to clean inbetween kids from different classes. We also got better cleaners and air purifiers for the therapy rooms. For summer, we are going back to 5 in person days (Wednesday has been virtual for deep cleaning but still doing remote classes and therapies). I’m hoping it all goes well! So happy I’m vaxed, so I’m not constantly thinking about getting infected every time I wipe a nose! I l work in a different county than I love in. My extremely rural county has the lowest vax rate in the state…

  12. Imara219 says:

    My district has e-Learning Academies in place but remote learning for your homeschool is no longer an option. I hate that the eAcademies are separate entities and that students cannot be enrolled through their homeschool but working online through the program. I think having remote options for everyone is great. No, hybrid is a terrible model, because it does pull the teachers too thin and does not take into consideration the protocols. I do think a virtual option should be available for students who perform better online learning and for educators who want to keep working online.

  13. Imara219 says:

    I couldn’t edit my post to add:

    A huge pet peeve from this experience is the term “learning loss” it was coined by the testing companies and it’s just a horrible ploy to continue with the testing industrial complex. These tests were completely unnecessary and one of my many issues with the Biden Administration was how they handled this particular issue. They did not offer waivers to kids with anxiety and mental health issues. They did not flex that these tests did not HAVE to be taken in person, etc. Anyway, we like to use different phases besides learning loss.

  14. Justme says:

    One of my coworker’s children is a first grader. Our public schools were virtual all year, but he goes to a Catholic parochial school. He was in the classroom all year and nobody got Covid – kids or teachers. She is so happy because he is far ahead of the public school kids in our area in reading, writing and arithmetic. I am so glad my daughter just graduated college when the pandemic started!

  15. Kkat says:

    Im in southern California, I’m keeping my kid on home hospital. His teacher comes to the house every day. Currently it’s over zoom

    We’re fully vaccinated, my son too. So if there is a woodshop or ceramic elective at school in the fall we may try that.

  16. Gab says:

    Remote learning has been an absolute disaster and is, in my opinion, completely ineffective for young children. In the case of a child who is truly immunocompromised, pre-pandemic, the public schools were required to provide a health-based IEP and send a tutor to the house. For those (heartbreaking) cases of kids who need that, I hope that will still be the case. The rest of the kids need to be in school and mine will be vaccinated when their age range is approved. They have not learned anything this year academically.

    • Kkat says:

      My daughter maintained her 4.3 gpa and is doing good, she is motivated to learn.
      She took a lot of extra online college classes to suppliment her studies.

      My son is on home hospital due to being bipolar and is in AP classes and is doing good.
      He will go back to having the teacher come to the house since we’re all fully vaccinated. Instead of over zoom.

      They are both in the 10th grade

      So not all kids did poorly.

  17. Christine says:

    I live in Los Angeles, and my son’s (albeit private) school went back to in person learning at the end of February. They have to be tested for Covid once a week, parents have a form to fill out daily to hand to the nurse who is taking my kid’s temp, that states that he has no cough, chills, exposure to people who have tested positive for Covid, etc…

    My son is in 5th grade, and it turns out they are actually smarter than adults. They wear masks, all day long, they socially distance, and they are so effing thrilled to be back together, FINALLY, they won’t step a toe out of order. Since elementary went back, not one child has tested positive. I get why districts are paying attention to what the schools that are open in LA, or NY, have discovered.

    We live in what has been a cesspool of horrific Covid spread. I am also grateful that my son goes to a school where he will be expected to be vaccinated when he is 12, or he can’t go back. I have so many feelings about the districts that aren’t NY or LA. Please, please, stop complaining. I know so many kids who have lost a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, or really special family friend.

  18. Aquadog says:

    I’m a high school teacher and I’ve been doing hybrid teaching all year. It’s been the most difficult year of my teaching career. All students returned in April except for a handful and it was a relief. I’ve never had to tell a student to put their mask on. It could be because I’m in MA but that hasn’t been an issue. We’ve had zero in school transition. It all came from sports, parties or family. No remote option next year thank god!!!