City, Unions Reach Agreement to Reopen Schools

City, Unions Reach Agreement to Reopen Schools

Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

“New York City will now have the most aggressive policies and the strongest safeguards of any school system in the nation,” UFT NY President Mulgrew said.

By Michael V. Cusenza

In-person learning in City public schools will begin on Sept. 21, according to an agreement reached between the de Blasio administration and labor unions.

According to the pact, which was announced Tuesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, United Federation of Teachers NY President Michael Mulgrew, and District Council 37 Executive Director Henry A. Garrido, teachers will report to buildings on Sept. 8 as originally scheduled and will have dedicated time for training, professional development, and readiness to collaborate and prepare for blended and remote learning. Beginning Sept. 16, teachers will begin to engage students in preparations and orientations to help them acclimate to the new school year.

According to the deal, beginning immediately, prioritized access to testing will be available to students, teachers, and Department of Education school-based staff at 34 sites across the five boroughs. These sites will give priority to all DOE workers so they can quickly be tested, and provide results within 24-48 hours. Beginning Oct. 1, and recurring each month, it will be mandatory for schools to test a random 10-20 percent sample of their students participating in blended learning and on-site staff population. Families will be asked to sign a consent form at the start of the year for their child to participate at random, and be notified ahead of time if their child has been selected for the month.

According to the administration, in a typical school year, teachers return to school a few days before students to prepare for the start of the year, and we are extending that preparation time for educators to prepare their physical and virtual rooms for a new year of learning. This time will allow teachers and all school staffs to set up students for success in both full-time remote and blended models. School leaders and educators will be fully trained on health and safety protocols and have ample time to coordinate with each other to ensure they can provide educational continuity between remote and in-person days for blended learning, City officials noted.

According to the agreement, on Sept. 8, educators return to school, and will collaborate to prepare for the school year. On Sept. 16, schools will begin engaging students in learning and orienting them to the new school year prior to the first in-person day on Sept. 21. They will use this remote launch to engage students in health and safety procedures, and talk to students about connectivity for remote learning, wellness and social emotional health heading into an unprecedented school year, and to ensure students are ready to learn. An important focus of this orientation period will be on the social and emotional well-being of students and families and provide an opportunity for deeper understanding of the ways this strange school year will work.

“New York City will now have the most aggressive policies and the strongest safeguards of any school system in the nation,” Mulgrew said.


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