Concerns raised by principals about NYC's Outdoor Learning Plan

New York City schools are planning to reopen with a mix of in-class and remote learning

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Concerns raised about New York City's new outdoor learning plan
Candace McCowan has more on the concern from teachers and principals.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza unveiled their new plan for outdoor learning in New York City.

The mayor said that New York City has the strongest schools reopening plan in the country and improves on plans shown to work across the world.

"The focus has been on health and safety," he said. "We've created a new gold standard. We've combined them into one strategy for safety for all."

Mayor Bill de Blasio unveils a plan to help NYC schools offer outdoor learning for students this fall.

The mayor pointed to the city's 3% infection threshold for reopening and said it's stricter than the WHO's 5% reopening threshold.

He also said masks requirements for all grades of students and teachers is as stringent as in Japan and South Korea, free testing for staff surpasses Europe's plan except Luxembourg, the contact tracing program matches Japan and Germany, and the new option for outdoor learning is similar to Italy, Denmark, and Norway.

The outdoor learning plan will apply to all public, charter, and even private schools in the city.

--Principals can set up classrooms in their schoolyards and request additional space

--Any school that applies by Friday 8/28 will have a response next week.

--The plan prioritizes the 27 hardest-hit neighborhoods and schools with no usable outdoor space.

Schools must provide barriers and staffing to close any street. When submitting a street location, schools are strongly encouraged to select streets with the following criteria:

--Is a quiet, non-commercial street

--Is a one-way street; if two-way, not more than one lane of traffic in each direction

--Is not an MTA bus route or truck route

--Is not used by a police/fire station, parking garage, or hospital

Sister agencies will review the schools requesting space and make sure that the spaces are safe and secure for students and staff, Chancellor Carranza said.

"I'm excited about outdoor learning as a supplement to the school day," Carranza said. "Before COVID, I always knew how important it was for my scholars to get some time outdoors, and now, in partnership with our sister agencies, that will be possible for more schools - even if that school doesn't have a yard."

The teachers' union remained skeptical.

"The mayor's reopening plan continues to fall short, particularly in terms of necessary testing," United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said.

WATCH: UFT president lays out teachers' proposal for reopening NYC schools

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, lays out the union's proposals for reopening NYC public schools.

The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro released a statement on NYC's Outdoor Learning Plan:

"Countless health experts have suggested that outdoor learning may be helpful in limiting exposure to COVID-19, and school leaders will take advantage of all opportunities that help keep their community safe. However, once again, the City and DOE have made decisions, rolled out guidance and announced a deadline far too late and haphazardly for school leaders to develop and implement a thoughtful and well-constructed plan. The shortsighted guidance on outdoor learning also lacks detail, raising serious concerns around safety and security. Furthermore, without funding, this plan will exacerbate already existing disparities. Though the idea of outdoor learning has real merit, the City's plan will not be implemented nearly as well as it could have been if the Mayor had simply given principals the time and support they need. As a result, we reiterate our call for a delay of in-person learning so that we can implement a safe and successful learning plan for our students."

RELATED: This is what Dr. Anthony Fauci is saying about reopening schools

The city's current reopening plan calls for a mix of in-person and remote learning, with students taking turns in classrooms when they return in the fall. But more than a quarter of students have decided to go with the all-remote option instead.

"Any teacher, any staff member - whatever they need, they'll get with PPEs, there'll be plenty available for each school," de Blasio said last week. "We want kids to come to school already wearing a face covering. We want kids wearing a face covering wherever they go. In school, out of school - any kid who needs one will get one."

RELATED | Murphy clears schools to reopen, allows remote learning amid teacher shortage


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