In a nutshell, there is no plan. The Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education held a Zoom meeting yesterday evening. This meeting was held from the comfort of everyone’s homes because NYC believes that it would be unsafe for large public gatherings. Let me repeat that. A meeting about reopening NYC schools in a few weeks, you know the ones that service 1.1 million students, was held via Zoom because it would be unsafe to hold meetings in each borough to meet in person with families about the reopening.
Now, I’m all for virtual meetings. I don’t have to travel. Heck, I don’t even have to change out of my PJs if I don’t want to. Yet, if you’re trying to convince me that a school building would be safe to send my precious offspring into you’re off to a bad start if you’re not willing to step foot in one of those schools to address concerned families. Oh, I get it. Having that many people in the building would be unsafe, right? Okay, remember those 1.1 million students. If we take 33% of that which I believe is a magic number going around to have attend school at one time that would be only 363,000 students in school at one time.
I know, I know. Next you’re going to say I’m gaslighting because we know that 363,000 is the total number of students not what would be at each school. Okay, you got me! Let’s do that math then. A quick Google search tells me that there are 1,700 public schools in NYC. I know, there might be more. There might be less but Google is my friend and it’s after midnight when I’m writing this so let’s use that number for story’s sake. If we take the 33% number of students and divide them by the number of schools (according to Google) that leaves us with 214.3529492 or 215 students. Great, that sounds very manageable, right? Nothing to see here people.
So, we’re saying on average there will be about 215 students per school (if we were to divide each school equally – spoiler, that’s not how it happens). Okay, 215 students in a building a day. That might sound great to you. JustaBXgirl’s school normally averages around 330 students a year. They have about 50 staff to teach that many children, plus cafeteria staff, admin, and a cleaning person (yes, one member of the onsite janitorial staff). Let’s round that number down to 50 though since our new average number of students is 215. That means on an average day there would be 265 people in the school building with the plan that students would attend school on various days at a 33% cap. What about schools that share buildings? If a school building houses four schools does that mean there would be over 800 people in the building each day? Is that okay?
I thought that maybe the meeting would address those types of concerns. Yes, I was happy that they went over the proposed blended learning plans but as a former NYC student, I was blessed to learn reading comprehension and if I could choose between having the Chancellor’s team reading the slides to me or addressing concerns beyond the slides, I choose the latter.
Even when they did answer questions, they didn’t really say anything in my opinion. There was a question about physical education. And I will admit that I completely blanked out for a moment as he spoke but from what I did hear, he basically agreed that physical education is important and said that they know it but didn’t give firm plans on what it would look like seeing how gyms are being converted into classroom spaces. Oh wait, that wasn’t addressed on the call either!
I loved that it was stated that the first few weeks of school would focus on social-emotional learning. The thing is, there weren’t any specifics shared on this either. Unless you count when someone said they would start days with circle time. Um, pardon me? How does circle time work in a pandemic? How does it work with distance learning and PPE. How does it work with students that aren’t in elementary school?
PPE wasn’t address really either. Other than to say that teachers would have enough. How Sway? Hospitals still don’t have all of the protective gear that they need but here he was guaranteeing that staff would have it at no additional costs to the schools! Someone please hold him to that!
It was also stated that families have until August 7th to let DOE know if they will be doing remote learning. Nope, we weren’t told what remote learning will look like, other than that it will be better than it was before. It was also said that families can shift to remote learning at ANY TIME but families will only have certain intervals that they can switch to in-person learning, which makes sense based on capacity issues.
There will be another meeting on July 28th. You can register on this site. I will be attending that meeting as well. I hope you will be there. Even if they don’t tell us anything new, we need to show up! Remember those 1.1 million students I was talking about earlier. Well, that means that there are almost 1.1 million adults (taking into consideration that there are some families with multiple children and one adult homes) that should be repping for the littles. There were only 23,000 people on the call. This is me calling you out! I’m here to fight for you and your child. I will advocate for your needs and wants. I decided months ago that my daughter would be doing remote learning or being homeschooled. I know what’s best for my family and I trust that you know what’s best for yours. Still, I’m going to call you out if you don’t show up for your littles. I was on five different chats with friends during the Zoom because we are a community and we show up and call each other out when we are slipping.
This school year is going to be truly unprecedented. I’ve talked a lot about privilege this year. I get that many times during normal school years families can’t make it to school meetings and events. I never take it personally and I show up for your littles when you have to work. I have sat and spent more time with JustaBXgirl’s classmates than with her during special school events because they were sad that their parents couldn’t be there. I get it. We have to make the tough decisions and sacrifice our own wants to provide for them at times. This is not the normal school year. You can jump on these meetings from just about anywhere. I want you and your child represented so I need you to show up! My trusty friend Google tells me that there are over 200K students living in The Bronx alone. This Bronx mom is asking where you were at other Bronx caretakers??? We need to do better in order to get better for our kids.
They are the ones suffering from the digital divide. They are the ones attending overcrowded schools where 33% of the school is still going to be too much! I want to see them all thrive so I need you at these meetings. I need you on Twitter calling out when decisions are made that do not have our children’s best interests at heart.
The Chancellor said that in a normal year they are planning for the upcoming school year from January. Great, that means they had about three months of original planning then had to switch to pandemic planning. We cannot accept less than the best when it is our children’s mental and academic health on the line. It’s been four months since this all hit the fan when it comes to the schools. We should be being presented concrete plans not big picture, no details at this point.