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.
in a statement, saying the city’s teachers union wanted “as many students back in school as safely as possible.”
Still, he acknowledged that “a small number of students with extreme medical challenges” may face difficulty returning to in-person learning with the pandemic still a threat and said that a remote option could be necessary for those children.
Mr. de Blasio said that the school system would have “plenty of protections” in place when the school year begins. But his announcement will no doubt alarm some parents who remain concerned about sending their children back into school buildings, even as the pandemic ebbs in the United States.
Recent interviews with city parents have shown that while many families are looking forward to resuming normal schooling, some are hesitant about returning to classrooms.
been most likely to keep their children learning from home over the past year.
During the mayor’s news conference, the city’s schools chancellor, Meisha Porter, said there would be “no Covid-related accommodations,” signaling that teachers and school staff will no longer be granted medical waivers to work from home.
The city’s school system is currently planning for masks to be required in school buildings, Ms. Porter said. Schools would also follow the C.D.C.’s social-distancing protocol, which currently recommends elementary school students remain at least 3 feet apart in classrooms. Both those policies could change by the fall.
New York, like districts across the country, has struggled to make remote learning successful. Online classes have been frustrating for many students, and even disastrous for some, including children with disabilities.
By one estimate, three million students across the United States, roughly the school-age population of Florida, stopped going to classes, virtual or in person, after the pandemic began. A disproportionate number of those disengaged students are low-income Black, Latino and Native American children who have struggled to keep up in classrooms that are partly or fully remote.
Mr. de Blasio, who has been criticized for not doing more to improve the quality of online education, has said that remote learning is inherently inferior.
It has also been extraordinarily complex for the city to run two parallel school systems, one in person and one online, with many students switching between the two every few days. So many students and teachers operating from home made it nearly impossible for some schools to offer normal schedules.