Letter from the Chancellor

This submission builds on the preliminary plans released on July 8 in which I outlined essential planning information to school communities regarding social distancing, health and hygiene measures, and models to ensure safe instructional programming of students while still ensuring academic rigor. Despite the once-unimaginable challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, we remain as committed as ever to providing a high-quality education to every student. To achieve these goals, NYCDOE is committed to providing continuous policy updates and has been doing so on a weekly basis since, both on our website and via regular updates to our principals and school communities. All of our policies will always be guided first and foremost by health and safety.

The information included in this plan will be similarly shared with stakeholders, whose input and voices have been critical to its development. We know that it is essential that we navigate this new territory in partnership with school communities across the city. We have listened to the voices of families and students to ensure our plans are responsive to their needs and concerns. We have lifted up the voices of educators and worked collaboratively with principals to keep the safety of our staff as a driving factor of our decision-making. Additionally, we created multiple opportunities for feedback and questions through citywide and school-based information sessions, which will continue over the next several weeks.

As we continue to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year—which will look like no other in history—I am confident in the preparedness of the New York City Department of Education. We have the best students, staff, and families anywhere in the world. Working together, we can meet the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19 while ensuring a safe, welcom

As we prepare for your children, as well as teachers and staff, to return to schools, we will continue our commitment to prioritize health and safety first. With a current rolling 7-day COVID positivity rate of 0.16% and a consistently low transmission rate, our schools have a proven track record of being safe. We will meet whatever the CDC social distancing requirements are in September, and we expect that the city’s continuously improving health metrics may allow for more flexibility by the fall. Finally, in our commitment to keep health and safety a top priority, we plan to adhere to the many health and safety measures we had in place this past school year, including the following:

  • Masks will continue to be a requirement in all of our school buildings 
  • Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms will continue to be required to stay at home 
  • Students, teachers and staff will continue to complete the daily health screener at home 
  • Every school building will continue to have a nurse 
  • Every classroom will have working ventilation systems 
  • On-site COVID-19 testing will continue in school buildings as recommended by the latest health guidance 
  • The Situation Room will continue to support schools with next steps if there are positive cases 

We know that many of our students have not attended school in-person since March of 2020, and that returning to school in-person this fall will be an adjustment. We promise to do everything we can to welcome your children back and provide the supports needed to ensure a positive homecoming. We’ve already made investments to hire more teachers and social workers, and will have academic and social-emotional learning programs available to support our students. Here are some ways that we are supporting with the transition now, and we encourage you and your children to participate:

Chancellor’s Borough-Wide Family Forums

School Open Houses

  • Your child’s school will be in touch with you about when these will be scheduled, and we encourage you to participate to learn more.

Summer Rising 

Thank you for your partnership, your engagement, and your dedication to your children’s education over the last year. I am in awe of how our communities came together to lift each other up to ensure our children had the best experience possible despite enormous challenges. I am looking forward to partnering with you, learning from you, and leveraging all we‘ve done together over the last year to create a new normal starting in September – one that is warm and welcoming, affirming and enriching, and exciting and challenging – for each one of your children.