The numbers are in. The families of NYC by an overwhelming margin want no part of in-person schooling during a pandemic.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza gave parents a one-time-only offer in November to return to in-person schooling. We now know that only 35,000 of over 700,000 students who were all remote had their parents sign up to apply for in-person learning during the opt-in window in November. That's about 5% of the all remote students. The vast majority of parents, including my wife and me, are not buying that schools are safe. We are keeping our kids home until this pandemic is behind us.
These almost non-existent return percentages come despite a huge propaganda campaign led by the mayor, the NY Times, the governor, other media outlets, UFT President Michael Mulgrew ("We've proven to people we can open our schools safely"), and even some activists saying that school buildings should be open in a pandemic.
When we subtract the 6,000 who left in-person blended learning at the same time as the 35,000 signed up to go back, it means that around 700,000 students of the approximately 1 million NYC students want fully remote schooling. Even the very pro-open NY times education reporter Eliza Shapiro was left wondering about remote learning from these conclusive statistics.
The results raised urgent questions about why the city had spent so many months rushing to prepare school buildings while spending relatively little time focusing on improving remote learning. Almost all children will spend much of their time learning remotely, and about 700,000 students will spend their entire week taking online classes.
About 60,000 children who have requested devices from the city for remote learning have not received them, and others are still struggling to connect to Wi-Fi.
Mulgrew and the Chancellor had basically no answers this morning on Up Close on Channel 7. Carranza blamed the problem with remote learning on a backlog for devices that he said was a supply problem because of so much competition with other districts. Mulgrew went on about how the DOE's instructional people left it to the schools on remote learning and how our most vulnerable students need in-person learning.
We all knew the second wave of COVID-19 was coming. Parents saying no to in-person schooling should be viewed as a huge rebuke of the mayor, chancellor, and UFT president who have spent so much time trying to open up schools and not enough on the vast majority of families who want no part of it.
Instead of even talking about a premature second reopening of school buildings that should never have opened in the first place, why don't the UFT and DOE make their major focus on maximizing the remote learning experience? Let's get as many students as possible to be able to successfully log onto online classes. Everyone needs a working device and wifi. How about a Situation Room for that and a map of tech needs and real widespread tech support?
Remote learning is now the mode of instruction for everyone in NYC and it will be for the vast majority of NYC families until a safe vaccine for COVID-19 is widely available, probably next spring. The mayor and UFT need to deal with that reality and not cater to a small group of vocal parents and their media supporters who want buildings to open no matter what it seems.
Closely examine the city's own Situation Room web-page if you don't buy what most parents have figured out: Schools are not safe. There's no need to consider reopening buildings in the near term.
Sue Edelman covered the testing in schools issue today in the NY Post.
Finally, for everyone who argues that schools are basically immune from spreading the virus, this piece from WSWS is worth a read even if you don't have a socialist bone in your body.