Adams: no distance learning option in New York schools for 6 months

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It will be about six months before schools in New York City can add distance learning options, Mayor Eric Adams told elected officials on Wednesday morning.

The schedule, which effectively means no virtual instruction until the end of the 2021-2022 school year, represents a categorical rejection of the concerns of students, parents and teachers concerned for the safety of in-person learning, as the Omicron variant continues to cause about 40,000 new cases of COVID per day in the city.

Thousands of students walked out of the classroom on Tuesday, protesting what they said were unsafe conditions. In the first week of January, more than two dozen city and state lawmakers signed a letter to Mayor Adams calling for a temporary pivot to distance learning until Jan. 18 to slow the spread of the virus.

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Adams’ estimate that it will take about six months for schools in the city to include virtual options came during a call with officials responding to their request for a virtual option.

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New York State Senator Jabari Brisport was on the call and is one of the officials who co-signed the letter.

“At first the talking point (of the mayor) was that they would get back to us later at a future meeting on the remote option,” Brisport told 74. “Towards the end, when you press to new to a remote option, the hindsight was that he wanted to do it the right way and have as many stakeholders involved as possible, and make sure that it works best for students and teachers and that this process will probably take six months.

Adams has repeatedly said he does not want to close schools or return to distance learning in the face of the current upheavals, but has not said publicly before when a distance option might be viable.

Asked about his statements on Wednesday, Adams spokesman Amaris Cockfield told 74: “Today the mayor held a private question-and-answer session with lawmakers to discuss existing plans to ensure security children and teachers and keep schools open. He is committed to working with lawmakers in pursuit of the best results for students and staff.

Studies have generally shown that distance learning has resulted in academic, social and emotional damage compared to in-person teaching. Many political leaders have maintained their focus on keeping schools open for in-person learning, including President Joe Biden, who on Wednesday announced his administration was sending millions of COVID-19 tests to schools to weather the tide from Omicron.

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A spokesperson for the New York City Department of Education declined to comment on Adams’ position, telling 74 that they preferred the mayor’s press office to explain his comments.

Teachers and staff at New York City public schools rally for increased COVID-19 safety measures and a distance learning option on January 10 outside the United Teachers’ Federation union office. (Scott Heins / Getty Images)

Brisport, himself a former math professor at Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, said he supports Adams’s vision for community contribution to how best to structure distance learning. But he doesn’t think this plan has to be mutually exclusive with immediate and temporary virtual change.

“I think this is an area where we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” he said. “I would support having an imperfect remote option now and then having that very well thought out option six months from now. “

During the first week of vacation in the country’s largest school district, the daily attendance rate never exceeded 72%. On Monday, rates rebounded slightly to 76%, but a large chunk of students remained absent, indicating widespread hesitation over security conditions.

Attendance was scarce at New York City schools in the first week of January, as many parents kept their children at home for fear of safety during the Omicron wave. (Michael Loccisano / Getty Images)

“A temporary remote option must be available for parents as infections continue to rise,” State Senator Jessica Ramos wrote in a Jan.6 statement. Tweeter explaining his letter to the Adams administration calling for temporary virtual learning. “Children are a critical unvaccinated population and families need to be able to make choices without fear of truancy. “

“People come to school positive,” said one student, explaining their fears related to COVID.

Students who left class on Tuesday shared on social networks that they were placed in compulsory detention for choosing to demonstrate.

“As a former teacher,” Brisport said, “if all of my students walked out of my classroom citing safety concerns, then I would take that to heart and see if there was anything I could do differently in the classroom. instead of doubling, which is not what we see from the current administration.

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