Over the next two weeks, more than one million parents in New York City must make a wrenching decision: Should they send their children into classrooms this school year or keep them learning from home, likely until at least next fall?
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that parents would have until Nov. 15 to decide whether to enroll their children in hybrid learning, a mixture of in-person and remote instruction, for the remainder of the school year.
The city had originally promised parents they could opt into the hybrid program every few months. But the mayor changed the rules because about only a quarter of the district’s 1.1 million students have shown up for in-person classes since September, far fewer than predicted. That has made it difficult for the city to know how to allocate teachers, the mayor said.
Now, the many parents who have kept their children home, whether for safety, convenience or consistency, need to decide: Is hybrid learning working?
It is a question parents in many other places across the country and world are also facing, as more districts prepare to open for at least some mixture of in-person and remote classes. But the choice is particularly fraught in New York City, once a global epicenter of the virus and now one of the few large urban districts in the United States to offer any classroom instruction.
“Intuitively, parents understand that the best place for kids is in school,” said Eric Goldberg, an elected parent leader in Manhattan who has chosen hybrid learning for his own children. “But what is it about the New York City public school experience that is leading families to choose remote learning? When the in-school experience is so compromised and inferior, people think, ‘Why am I doing this?’”
On Monday, Mr. de Blasio said that the citywide seven-day rolling average virus positivity rate was 1.81 percent, and that the city wanted to start “knocking down” that figure.
“We’re keeping a very close eye on the situation,” he said. “We’re obviously at a point where that has gone up in recent weeks and we take that very seriously.”
The mayor has said he will require all students to take all their classes remotely if the seven-day rolling average reaches 3 percent.
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