Far from equal numbers in latest DOE data on NYC students returning to in-person learning

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By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

White elementary school-age children and District 75 students make up a disproportionally high number of New York City public school children returning to in-person classes once buildings reopen next week, according to recently released Department of Education data.

Just over 160,000 students in 3K For All, Pre-K for All and elementary school grades (kindergarten through fifth grade), as well as the city’s children with special needs, enrolled in blended learning will begin to trickle back into school on Monday, Dec. 7, after Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a systemwide shut down two weeks ago.

The second citywide public school shutdown came as new coronavirus cases increased across the five boroughs pushing the COVID-19 positivity rate based on a seven-day rolling average to the city’s threshold of 3%. Days later, officials came up with a second reopening plan that would all students to return to buildings in phases starting with the city’s youngest learnings.

In addition, the plan requires all students to submit a consent form from their parents allowing them to be tested for the virus at school since 20% of all school communities will be randomly tested once a week when schools reopening again for in-person learning. Officials have still not decided on how to approach reopening middle and high schools and do not expect to release a plan until early next year.

Hispanic students made up the largest demographic of public school students returning to school buildings on Monday at 42.8% or 69,077 .

White students make up close to 25% of those returning to buildings despite only 16% of all students enrolled in public schools during the 2019-2020 school identify as white. In third place are Black students at 17.6% and followed by Asian students at 11.5%.

However, the breakdown does not include the roughly 35,000 students whose families enrolled them into in-person learning during the city’s two-week-long opt-in period last month, according to the department.

An additional 30,000 students not included in the breakdown are attending early childhood programs contracted by the city who have yet to finalize their demographic data which means the numbers will most likely change by next week.

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