November 18, 2020
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.
All of us at the Department of Education have been so proud to witness the joy of students and educators reuniting and learning together this year. We have been the only major school district in the nation to reopen our buildings. The benefit to hundreds of thousands of students is incredible, as school communities have reconnected in person for learning, growing, and supporting one another.
All along, we have kept health and safety at the forefront of everything we do. That includes carefully monitoring COVID-19 transmission rates across the city and, when necessary in response to infections, temporarily closing our school buildings and transitioning students to fully remote learning.
Given recent increases in transmission, we have reached a point in our City’s infection rate that requires all students to transition to remote learning. Beginning Thursday, November 19, all school buildings will be closed, and all learning will proceed remotely for all students, until further notice. You will hear from your principal shortly about next steps for you and your student. Please note that this is a temporary closure, and school buildings will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
I am sure you have many questions, and below you can find some important guidance to provide some answers. As always, we are committed to academic excellence, community-building, and social-emotional support for your child—no matter where they are learning.
Devices for Remote Learning
Do you need a device, need technical support or to fix a broken device, or are dealing with a lost or stolen device? Call DOE’s IT Help desk at 718-935-5100 and press 5 to get assistance.
You can also get quick help online:
Browse tech support topics: schools.nyc.gov/technicaltools
File a tech support ticket: schools.nyc.gov/techsupport
Request a device: schools.nyc.gov/devices
Get support with a DOE-issued iPad: schools.nyc.gov/ipadfixes
Issues with your Internet connection: schools.nyc.gov/internet
We are committed to ensuring every student is learning 5 days a week. Your child’s school will support you in remote learning if you currently don’t have a device by providing paper-based work. Contact your school for more info.
Free Meals for Students and Families
All families and students can continue to go to any school building between 9:00 a.m. and noon on weekdays to pick up three free grab-and-go meals. No identification or registration is necessary. Halal and kosher meals are available at some sites, which are listed at schools.nyc.gov/freemeals.
From 3-5 p.m., New Yorkers of all ages can pick up free meals at 260 Community Meals sites across the city. For a list of sites, please visit schools.nyc.gov/freemeals.
Learning Bridges, the City’s free childcare program for children in 3-K through 8th grade, will continue to serve families enrolled in blended learning. We will continue to give priority to children of essential workers, as well as students in temporary housing or residing in NYCHA developments, children in foster care or receiving child welfare services, and students with disabilities. Families can learn more and apply at schools.nyc.gov/learningbridges, and new offers will be made to families weekly as seats are available.
Early Childhood Education
3-K and Pre-K classrooms in district schools and DOE Pre-K Centers will be closed. If your child attends a program in a community-based center that is not located in a public school, or attends a family childcare program that is part of a DOE network, it will remain open. If you are not sure which type of program your child attends or have questions about your child’s services, please contact your program directly. Strong supports are in place to ensure that these sites can continue operating safely.
Although we are temporarily shifting to fully remote teaching and learning for all students, if you have recently elected to enroll your child in blended learning, your child will be able to begin in-person learning after we reopen. I know that for many of you, this decision to temporarily close school buildings that we recently opened up will be disappointing, and I understand. But by confronting these challenges together, we can continue to fight back against COVID-19. And I am confident that before long, we will be able to safely reopen our school buildings again.
Please remember the “Core Four”: wash your hands, wear a face covering, keep six feet of distance from others, and stay home if you’re feeling sick. These are critically important steps that all of us can take every day.
We will continue to provide updates, supporting you and everyone in the DOE family as this public health crisis continues to evolve. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s school with any questions or concerns. We are grateful for your partnership and all you do for our city.
Richard A. Carranza
New York City Department of Education
November 18 Checklist: Preparing for Temporary Fully-Remote Learning
q Building Access
q School Food
q Student & Staff COVID-19 Testing
q Situation Room
q Learning Bridges
q Communications from Principals with School Community
q BUILDING ACCESS:
o Certain staff, such as School Safety Agent(s) (SSA) – as well as our Custodians, Skilled Tradespeople, and School Food employees, and others – will report on-site daily at DOE buildings.
o Given reasonable advance notice, management and represented titles without approved accommodations may be required to report on-site on specific days to ensure other critical functions of a school are also performed during the temporary systemwide remote period, such as:
- Manage the distribution/ pick-up of:
Devices, Paper packets, and/or other learning materials
- Accept and certify deliveries
Please note custodial engineers can accept deliveries but cannot certify deliveries.
All items must be certified as delivered in FAMIS before they can be distributed to students.
- Access to the physical mail or other deliveries to perform their responsibilities (e.g., college admissions or student support activities)
o Further information, including guidance for specific employee groups such as substitutes and re-deployed staff, can be found on the Coronavirus Staff Update InfoHub page.
o Principals should develop and share with their Superintendent a written plan on how they plan to schedule personnel for routine critical functions that require on-site work. All access to school buildings should be coordinated between Principal and Custodian:
- All individuals who enter school buildings during the systemwide remote period, including school-based staff, will be required to sign in with the School Safety Agent. This is needed to support NYC Test + Trace and the efforts of the Situation Room.
- With advanced notice and in coordination with the Principal and Custodian, school-based staff:
Will have access to their school buildings if the conditions allow for safe working conditions as per social distancing protocols.
Can make arrangements to pick up personal belongings and/or materials and supplies, during school hours.
- This coordination will:
Parent too many people in the building at one time, a violation of the COVID-19 School Health Policy, and
Ensure safety measures are followed, including social distancing.
o Students or parents who arrive at a school building during the temporary systemwide remote period will not be permitted entry unless they have made arrangements with school leadership in advance.
o Substitute teachers should be notified whether they are needed to work remotely, or not needed, during the transition to temporary systemwide fully remote teaching.
o Redeployed central staff, and other titles temporarily assigned to schools during the 2020-2021 school year, will continue their redeployment assignment and support schools while working fully remotely.
o Timekeeping – Continue use of weekly form for school-based staff to provide timekeepers with attendance information
o Paycheck distribution - Current process continues. Please continue to remind staff to enroll in direct deposit through DOE’s InfoHub here
o Principals should continue to escalate staffing or programming concerns, including any staffing needs, to their superintendent.
o Use your school’s inventory and LTE-enabled iPads to distribute devices to students that need them.
- Ensure students know their login information for their DOE Student Account and all school learning platforms.
Schools can download student accounts.
Students can find their student accounts and log in information via the DOE Student Accounts page.
Students can reset their DOE account password on the Student DOE Account Password Reset Page.
o Designate point person(s) from your staff to be on site to receive, certify delivery and distribute device deliveries, or other deliveries, while school is fully remote.
o Ensure your school has completed the “Prepare for Shipping” (https://infohub.nyced.org/nyc-doe-topics/it/ipads-and-devices )process that each school needs to perform to get central iPads shipped to their schools.
o The additional 100K LTE-enabled iPads that the City has ordered are being prepared and delivered over the next 4-6 weeks. These deliveries will come to your school, and we will let you know as soon as your devices are ready.
- The iPads arrive pe-assigned to the students. Families must be contacted to coordinate distribution.
o Provide all parents and families the telephone number for the IT Help Desk, for use if they need support with remote learning: Help Desk 718-935-5100, option 5. Hours of Operation: Monday through Saturday, 6:00am - 9:00pm
r ATTENDANCE DURING REMOTE LEARNING:
o The current attendance policy is structured to ensure a seamless transition to full remote in the event of widespread school closures. For school year 2020–21, NYCDOE schools are required to record attendance and follow up on absences for all students engaged in remote or in-person learning.
o Schools should review the Attendance Policy for the 2020-21 School Year.
o During fully remote learning, schools must continue to regularly use attendance data, which is available in Insight, to monitor schoolwide and individual data trends.
o Schools are encouraged to employ engagement strategies from Every Student, Every Day in a remote setting to help students stay in school and reduce chronic absenteeism.
r SCHOOL FOOD
o All families and students can continue to go to any school building between 9a.m. and noon on weekdays to pick up three free grab-and-go meals. No identification or registration is necessary. Halal and kosher meals are available at some sites, which are listed at schools.nyc.gov/freemeals.
o From 3-5 p.m., New Yorkers of all ages can pick up free meals at 260 Community Meals sites across the city. For a list of sites, please visit schools.nyc.gov/freemeals.
r STUDENT & STAFF COVID-19 TESTING:
o The DOE has implemented random COVID-19 tests at schools, for students and staff on a daily basis (weekly and monthly per school).
o As schools move to fully remote instruction, school-based COVID-19 testing may be repurposed to support testing across school communities or with the general public. Testing partners will follow up with you if your school building may be used for testing while all learning is fully remote.
o DOE/DOHMH school nurses will work remotely to provide telehealth and make calls to families to obtain testing consent in preparation for reopening. Nurses could also be utilized to provide COVID-19 testing at School Based Health Center sites.
o Schools can share this list of testing sites that prioritize testing for DOE staff and students.
r SITUATION ROOM:
o While schools operate remote-only instruction, we plan to keep the Situation Room open with limited staffing. During this time, the Situation Room will work to:
- Provide daily monitoring and reporting of transmission with DOHMH and City Hall.
- Continue to track and support cases from any staff working in schools and cases in contracted early childhood programs and affiliated family childcare programs.
r LEARNING BRIDGES:
o While schools transition to fully remote instruction, Learning Bridges programs will remain open to serve families who are enrolled in blended learning.
o Priority will continue to be given to children enrolled in blended learning and who are:
- Children of essential workers including DOE staff, health and human service workers, and others
- Students in temporary housing or residing in NYCHA developments
§ Children in foster care or receiving child welfare services
- Students with disabilities
o Learning Bridges programs will continue to operate from 8a.m. to 3p.m.
o Programs can offer families additional days of service as space allows. Children may continue to utilize Learning Bridges on their current part-time schedule or, as space allows, attend full time for 5 days of service. Schedules will be determined on a site-by-site basis in conversation with families.
o Learning Bridges sites are required to follow rigorous health and safety protocols and are supported with nurses, a 7a.m.-7p.m. telehealth call center and the Situation Room, DOHMH and Test and Trace.
o Learning Bridges programs provide breakfast, lunch and snack at every site.
o Families can apply for Learning Bridges at schools.nyc.gov/learningbridges. The DOE will make offers to families on a weekly basis.
o If families have questions about the status of their application, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org and should receive a response within 1 business day.
o The DOE will continue to add Learning Bridges seats and add families to program rosters.
r COMMUNICATIONS FROM PRINCIPALS TO SCHOOL COMMUNITY:
o All Staff:
- Ensure that all staff are aware of communications channels being leveraged and that staff have also provided their up-to-date contact information.
o All Teachers:
- Communicate the full-remote expectations and their schedules (see here for previously provided guidance).
This includes re-deployed staff assigned to your school who should continue to support your school with remote learning.
Please also communicate expectations to any substitutes, if they will be needed during the remote period.
- Remind teachers of synchronous or asynchronous policy on remote teaching.
- Remind teachers where to access TeachHub, professional supports, curriculum and instructional resources, and 2020-2021 teach from home guidelines previously published by the DOE.
- Ensure all curricular resources are digitized; teachers, students and families should have access to these resources online.
o Communications with Students:
- Communicate with students the full-remote expectations and their schedules (see here for previously provided guidance)
- Ensure students that were blended and must transition to fully remote continue to engage in their education in a fully remote environment.
- Support and continue to closely monitor the progress of students that have previously received an “NX” and are in the process of making up their work to receive passing grades.
o Communications with Parents & Families:
- Confirm you have the most up-to-date contact information for all families, as well as communication pathways to reach all families quickly, such as the use of telephone messenger, NYCSA, robocalls, Skedula, DoJo, or other systems (online or off-line) that meet the needs of all families.
- Provide families with a direct way to communicate with your school during this period of school building closure, including getting in touch with their student’s teacher as well as school administration.
- Provide all parents and families the telephone number for the IT Help Desk, for use if they need support with remote learning: Help Desk 718-935-5100, option 5. Hours of Operation: Monday through Saturday, 6:00am - 9:00pm
- Have an established line of communication with the parent coordinator and parent leaders to ensure you have multiple avenues to reach your parent community.