This has been an eventful and challenging year on so many levels. With your efforts and contributions, our school buildings have been safe places for teaching and learning for hundreds of thousands of students over the past several weeks. To date, we have seen a COVID-19 positivity rate of only 0.19 percent out of more than 120,000 students and staff tested. This has been a reassuring sign that our schools are safe, and we are grateful for the tireless work you do to ensure this is possible.
As you are aware, the City is experiencing elevated rates of COVID-19. Last summer, as we prepared to open our school buildings for in-person teaching and learning, we established a threshold of 3% COVID-19 test positivity rate for the City using a 7-day rolling average as a trigger for closing our school buildings and transitioning to fully remote learning. We established this threshold because of our commitment to health and safety for all of our DOE community above and beyond everything else.
As of this morning, November 18, the City has now reached this threshold of test positivity citywide and, as a result, the DOE will temporarily close down all public school buildings for in-person learning, Thursday, November 19. This action, along with other city-wide measures, is a key component to address the concerning rise in COVID-19 transmission rates. This closure of buildings is temporary; we will work diligently alongside other City agencies and every New Yorker to bring this transmission rate back down and get back to in-person learning as quickly and as safely as possible.
To ensure a smooth school transition from blended learning to fully remote learning for all students, first, please distribute the attached letter to your families immediately. Translations of the family letter will be available very shortly on the Messages for Families page on the website. Second, please notify your staff; see attached checklist for considerations to include in your staff communication. A letter to all staff will be sent shortly. Last, refer to the attached checklist for other important items and reminders. This list is meant to help school leaders transition to temporary full-remote learning for all students. This list is illustrative, not exhaustive, so please continue to identify and solve for your school community’s needs during this transition to fully remote teaching and learning. Please continue to refer to Principals Digest for any additional guidance. You will also continue to receive updates and information from the Office of the Chancellor and Office of the First Deputy Chancellor on the status of our school buildings, including guidance and next steps for your school when we are able to re-open.
Our DOE community has been our greatest asset during these challenging times, and we will continue to support every one of you as this public health condition continues to evolve. We know that for many of you, our staff, and our students and families, a temporary system-wide school closure and transition to fully remote instruction is challenging to hear. We know that many of our students and families need and want a blended learning model, and we too are eager to keep offering in-person learning for as long as it is safe and healthy to do so.
We are here to support you. For questions or support with remote learning, contact your BCO Remote Learning Champions (RLCs)— a citywide cohort of BCO staff with expertise in both technical and instructional strategies and practices to support the remote learning classroom experience.
As I’ve said before to you, we have faced these challenges before and are prepared for any situation that comes our way. New Yorkers have proven they are ready and willing to do the collective work to fight against this virus. Thank you for continuing to provide our students with the most enriching and engaging educational experience possible in the midst of all the challenges caused by the pandemic. I am so grateful for your tireless efforts, and I know our students and families are too.
Checklist_Preparing for Temporary Fully-Remote Learning_November 18 2020.pdf Update for Families_November 18 2020.pdf