Public Advocate Responds To Last-minute Shifts In Remote Learning

September 16th, 2020

Press Release

Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams released the following statement after it was announced, only hours before remote learning was set to begin, that students opting for a blended learning model would not necessarily receive synchronous live instruction while learning remotely. In-person learning is still set to resume on September 21 amid concerns from students, parents, teachers and administrators, and as the City Council considers a resolution which calls on the Department of Education to delay the reopening of public schools until each school meets the safety standards children and school staff require.

"If the city had acknowledged the scientific and logistical realities months or even weeks ago, our schools would be in a better, safer, and more stable place, equipped to implement the best possible remote learning environment for the majority of students. Instead, the Administration has once again made an eleventh-hour reversal, with no excuse and no notice. It's broken a pledge that was likely a factor for many families in selecting the blended learning program. This last-minute brinkmanship is destructive to administrators trying to manage their schools and teachers trying to best execute their curriculum and teach their classes, impossible for parents and traumatizing for students struggling to keep up. It is unsustainable and unacceptable.

"Two weeks ago the Mayor relented and delayed the start of blended learning. At the time I feared that we were poised to make the same logistical failures and logical fallacies, only at a new date, and those fears are being realized. The Administration is exacerbating the crisis and the need to delay schooling outright with a stubborn insistence on reopening buildings, even as there are alternative plans that meet both educational and childcare needs. Now, with confirmed cases among staff in more than 50 schools across the city and just five days until students are set to physically return to schools, the Mayor must again postpone in-person education, to admit sunk costs and prevent potential human costs."

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