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Most NYC public school students not guaranteed live remote learning

Remote-only school requests jump by 40,000 in one week

An already chaotic start to the school year took another twist hours before classes began Wednesday when the city Department of Education announced that kids signed up for blended learning aren’t guaranteed real-time virtual learning.

After previously assuring parents that all of the city’s 1.1 million public school students would receive at least some live online instruction when the academic year began, the DOE backed off that promise late Tuesday in an internal guidance memo.

Now, the 58 percent of kids whose parents signed up for a blended learning schedule — alternating in-person classes with online courses — won’t be guaranteed that those virtual sessions take place in real time.

That is, they may find themselves watching pre-recorded videos of lessons in which the teacher isn’t actually online at the time, depriving them of a chance to ask for help during class if they don’t understand the material.

Only the 42 percent of students so far signed up to receive remote learning five days a week will be guaranteed real-time classes.

With school populations split up to enable social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, classes have multiplied, creating a severe staffing crunch.

Many parents complained about the lack of live instruction during the last academic year, with some reporting that teachers went weeks at a time without directly communicating with their students.

The city principals union said the move justifies the alarms they’ve been sounding for months.

“The DOE’s last-minute announcement that live instruction is no longer required during remote days for blended learners is obviously an attempt to deal with the staffing crisis that CSA has been warning the DOE about for months,” wrote Council of School Supervisors and Administrators president Mark Cannizzaro in a Wednesday letter.

The union has said 10,000 teachers would be needed to fully staff classes — while City Hall has thus far provided only 2,000.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza defended the 11th-hour decision on Wednesday, while admitting that there’s a level of improvisation to a school year unlike any other.

“We’ve said repeatedly it won’t be a perfect start and we’ll be making a lot of adjustments in the weeks after we begin,” said de Blasio during his daily press briefing.

Despite the switch being announced on the eve of the school year, Carranza insisted the DOE was being as forthright as possible.

NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill de Blasio
Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill de BlasioDennis A. Clark

“There are constant variables at play here and what we’ve chosen to do is be honest and transparent with the public in saying to folks our goal has always been synchronous instruction every single day,” he said.

“We’re being honest. Nobody is hiding anything here,” continued Carranza. “You’re almost darned if you do and darned if you don’t.”

Additional reporting by Aaron Feis

About the author

Evan Lewis

Evan Lewis

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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