New York City classrooms will be reopening for five days a week of in-person learning with no remote option this September, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday.
“That means welcoming all our students and staff back to school buildings. Vaccinations are working, we’re beating back COVID, and our city is coming back strong,” de Blasio said in a press release.
He said the health and safety of school communities continued to drive the City’s planning, adding that New York City Department of Education’s protocols had kept schools safe.
He said health and safety would continue to come first, and all local, state and federal guidance would be constantly monitored to keep New York City school communities safe. He also expected that by September, vaccinations would be more widely accessible for students.
Masks will still required in schools in September and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing requirements would be followed, de Blasio said. At this stage, schools would have to ensure three feet between students.
De Blasio said there will be a school nurse assigned to every school and updated ventilation systems will be maintained in every classroom, and random COVID-19 testing will continue in school communities.
With schools returning to full in-person learning, the City will no longer offer fully remote teaching positions in the fall, and current COVID-related positions expire on June 30.
To ensure schools have the resources and teams in place, the DOE will lift all school pedagogical hiring restrictions and it is encouraging schools to tap into the recently increased Fair Student Funding Formula fund to add more teachers, social workers and other needed positions.
The DOE will also ensure every school has access to full-time mental health support through either a social worker or mental health clinic by hiring over 500 social workers and adding 100 new community schools, which will identify children who need additional support services.
De Blasio has also set aside increased funding in his executive budget for teacher pipeline programs, which recruit and train new and existing staff to become teachers in schools, particularly in high-needs areas. In the release he said the programs would result in 900 new Teaching Fellow Fall cohort participants; a projected 300 paraprofessional-to-educator pipeline participants; a new substitute-to-educator pipeline pilot that trains 25 current substitutes to work in District 75 schools; and the continuation of the NYC Teaching Collaborative which recruits and trains career changers to teach in high-needs areas.
In total, there would be 1,250 new hires for the highest need subject areas for fall 2021 – up from approximately 500 this school year.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said the city’s recovery hinged on the full reopening of schools, adding “I’m so grateful for the resilience, determination and flexibility of all members of the DOE community as we prepare to welcome back all of our students in-person in the fall.”
She added that schools will opening their doors in June so families could see the safety measures in place.
“We pledge to provide the most supportive environment, enriching and challenging academic experiences, and social-emotional resources to help our students and schools move forward from the past year,” Porter said.
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