DOE opens registration for fully remote-learning option this fall

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Students across the borough — and their parents and teachers — are adjusting to remote learning.
Photo via Pexels

By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

Parents that don’t feel comfortable sending their children to physical classrooms this upcoming school year now have the option to register their students for remote-only classes. The same goes for teachers and some school staffers who face a higher risk of developing complications after contracting the novel coronavirus because of age or compromised immune system, the Department of Education announced on Wednesday.

Families who register for full-time remote learning can fill out the same form to opt back into in-person classes by Aug. 7. After the Aug. deadline, families that chose full-time remote learning will only be able to switch their child’s schedule to in-person instruction during certain times during the school year.

Interested families can find the registration form on the DOE homepage or can call 311 to fill out the form over the phone.

“We know that there are varying levels of comfort around returning to buildings, and we will meet our families where they are with the choice of blended and remote learning for the upcoming school year,” said DOE spokesperson Danielle Filson in an e-mail. “All students will receive a high-quality education five days a week, and we are reaching out to parents this week so that they can select their preference and we can accommodate, putting health and safety first.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced last week that the city is toying with two “blended learning” models for the fall semester in order to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. The first model would only allow 50 % of students and staff to return to school buildings for classes two to three days a week. In the second model, only 33% of the student body and school staff would be allowed to return to school every other day of the school week.

The DOE’s online registration form does give any detail though on either blended model option.

The Department of Education's full-time remote learning online registration form which went live on July 15, 2020. ( Photo by Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech)
The Department of Education’s full-time remote learning online registration form that went live on July 15, 2020. Families can select one of two options, to register their child for 100% remote or blended learning. Details on blended learning options are not shown. ( Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

The state though will ultimately decide on how classes will look this fall and Governor Andrew Cuomo has until the first week of August to decide if schools will reopening at all this fall. The state also extended its own deadline for issuing guidance on reopening until July 13. School districts still need to submit their reopening plans to Albany for state approval by July 31.

Classes for full-time remote learning students should follow the same pace as students in the blended learning model with similar content to be taught at any given day. Implementation of remote learning will vary by school “within a set of clear guidelines and will be designed to meet the needs of their school communities,” according to a statement from DOE.

Live instruction will be required for digital classes, the agency says. Attendance, curriculum, assessments and grading policies will be “aligned to an overarching citywide policy and subsequently apply evenly within a school for all learners,” the statement adds.