By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza hinted again that public school parents may be given a second opt-in period for blended learning during a meeting with Bronx parents Monday night.
At the moment, parents interested in enrolling their children in the city’s blended learning model–in which students take classes at school one to three days a week–have until Sunday, Nov. 15 to fill out an application on the Department of Education’s website.
Throughout the summer and beginning of the fall school year, DOE officials repeatedly told parents choosing to enroll their children in fully remote learning that they would have multiple opportunities throughout the year to opt-into blended if they wished to do so.
But late last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza suddenly changed the opt-in policy announcing that parents would only be given one chance, causing panic among some parents.
Carranza told members of the Community Education Council 8, which covers the southeast Bronx, that he would always be flexible in “how the circumstances were rolling out” in response to a question from CEC member Fabian Wander on the possibility of more opt-in dates. But in order for there to be more opt-in opportunities, the DOE needs to have a better idea of how many families are actually “in” for in-person learning.
A fraction of the number of students enrolled in blended learning are showing up to school for in-person classes making it difficult for the department to properly staff schools and equip them with sufficient personal protective equipment, according to Carranza. In fact, only about a quarter of the city’s 1.1 million public school students are showing up for in-person classes and the attendance rate for in-person classes among students enrolled in blended learning is 83%, according to the DOE’s most recent data. But principals are apprehensive to reassign teachers or consolidate students out of concern over throwing off the current model, the chancellor said.
“Principals say to me, almost without exception, I can’t do that because what if those students actually show up,” Carranza told parents. “Once we have our hands around who is truly in and who is waiting in remote then we can actually look at the circumstances as we go forward around now that we know, is there the possibility of having another opt-in period perhaps in February, perhaps in March.”