The New York City Department of Education has given parents until the end of the day today, August 7, to decide whether to enroll their children in fully remote schooling or a hybrid model of online and in-person school for the 2020-2021 school year.

Each schools plan will vary between one to three days of in-person learning, with the rest of the school week remote, depending on such things as enrollment and layout, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The DOE announced the coronavirus infection rate had hovered at 1-2% lately, but if schools reopen and the city reaches a 3% infection rate schools will close. Cuomo said state benchmarks must be complied with, but local school districts would determine classroom modifications.

Frank Boudreaux and his daughter Fiona Boudreaux wearing masks on a walk in their neighborhood. Photo: Courtesy of Frank Boudreaux.

Frank Boudreaux, a South Williamsburg parent, said his family had not yet decided if Fiona, his kindergartener, would attend school part-time or opt for the fully remote program.

“We’re still making this decision—we’re trying to figure out what the ethics of attending school are,” Boudreaux said.

“Should we should prioritize other families who need the hybrid program more and figure something else out for our kids, child-care wise?”

Students who attend hybrid learning can opt remote any time, but students who choose the remote option will be allowed to return to school buildings quarterly to mitigate risk, according to the DOE.

To supplement both options, de Blasio announced the DOE would provide free childcare for 100,000 children this fall to assist families who could not find care for their children on days they were not in school buildings.

“Working families are being pulled in many directions trying to make a plan for the fall, and we are going to help them every step of the way by providing free childcare options,” de Blasio said.

East New York resident Kristen Rodriguez decided to enroll her daughter Emma Borges in fully remote learning for first grade. Though DOE officials said custodians would sanitize school buildings on a nightly basis, Kristen said despite money concerns, it was not a risk she was willing to take.

“I was put in a position where I had to choose between my daughter’s health and my job. I’m going to choose my daughter every time,” Rodriguez said. Photo: Courtesy of Kristen Rodriguez.

“It’s not ideal for kids to be wearing masks for eight hours a day,” Rodriguez said. “I think [the DOE] should be making school entirely remote. I can’t trust that enough people are going to be there to make sure that students are keeping each other safe.”

The DOE established additional safety protocols like regular temperature checks, socially-distanced buses and classrooms, increased access to hand-sanitizer stations and contact tracing. If a student or staffer tests positive, the city plans to close classrooms or entire school buildings for investigation, depending on the situation, according to the DOE.

Bushwick resident Noyola Conde has reservations, but is opting to send her sixth-grader Brandon Choula back to school part-time.

“I’m going to send Brandon back to school,” Conde said. “I’m a bit nervous for him because sometimes people don’t wear masks or gloves. I think it is better to take classes from home, but I have to work.”

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo cleared all New York school districts to reopen in the fall, saying all regions were well below the infection threshold.

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Miranda Levingston

Covering everything Brooklyn. Twitter: @MLevNews

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