November 24, 2020

Dear Families,     

As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to express how grateful I am for your patience and partnership, and how honored I am to serve you and your children. We have been through so much together this year. But despite these trying times, we have shown the nation, and the world, that New York City is not just a sprawling metropolis, but a community of good, caring people who—when times are difficult—come together to protect and support each other.   

Closing all our school buildings to in-person learning for the second time this year has been one of the most painful actions I have had to take as Schools Chancellor. I know it’s disappointing for the hundreds of thousands of students who were thrilled to be back in classrooms learning face-to-face with their teachers and classmates. It is equally hard on adults, who have been forced to make more adjustments to their schedules and lives. However, this is a temporary closure, and we will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. You and your family are part of this effort—because it will take all of us to once again drive COVID-19 rates down so we can reopen our doors to teaching and learning. 

The increasing levels of COVID-19 infection overall in the city are very concerning, and we must strengthen precautions further for our school communities. Therefore, no student will be permitted to return to the building without a signed consent form for in-school testing. Your consent must be submitted by the first day your child resumes in-person learning. If you have already provided consent via NYCSA or a paper form, we encourage you to submit it again to ensure we have the most up to date form on file. You can find instructions on easy ways to submit consent below.

In the meantime, we have pulled together some resources to help you and your children get the most out of fully remote learning. In this Update for Families, you will find information on:   

  • devices for remote learning 

  • attendance requirements for remote instruction 

  • grading in the 2020-21 school year 

  • how to provide consent for in-school testing (when blended learning resumes)

I also want to remind you that the ninth annual Big Apple Awards, honoring outstanding teachers and college and career counselors, recently kicked off. This year, it feels especially important to honor the teachers or counselors who have made a difference in your child’s life. Nominate an educator by January 10, 2021 by visiting the Big Apple Awards website at schools.nyc.gov/bigappleawards. 

And a quick reminder for our high school families that the Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department have cancelled all Regents exams that had been scheduled for January 2021. No decisions have been made regarding the June and August 2021 administrations of the Regents exam, but we’ll share updates as we receive them. 

As we continue to focus on immediate issues and needs in this unprecedented year, we are also thinking about the future, especially around middle and high school admissions. We are carefully examining all potential paths for admissions policies for the 2021-22 school year, and we look forward to sharing an update as soon as possible. 

We have achieved so much together despite so many unsettling challenges. I want to assure you that everyone at the DOE is working tirelessly to ensure your children continue to receive the high-quality education they deserve.   On behalf of myself and everyone at the Department of Education, I wish you and your families a happy, healthy Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

Update for Families, November 24, 2020