School boss, Mayor Adams pressed on remote learning due to COVID

Schools Chancellor David Banks acknowledged Tuesday that healthy students kept home by parents amid the recent Omicron-fueled surge of coronavirus cases will be able to complete coursework and not be marked absent — provided their teachers agree.

Banks repeatedly argued the expansion of the program — typically reserved for students out sick — did not amount to a “remote” learning option as there are still no formalized plans to provide live instruction.

However, he did confirm the coursework offering, which will only be available if a student’s teacher and their supervisor sign off, describing the effort as an “on ramp” for bringing families back to the classroom.

“What we’re doing is we’re trying to bring more and more of our students back,” Banks told reporters during a press conference at City Hall.

“People have been concerned and we want them to know that the school is the safest place,” he added. “But we wanted to at least provide, as an on ramp if you will, some additional students who would have an opportunity to do this asynchronous learning and maintain their attendance in doing so.”

Mayor Eric Adams emphasized there will be no permanent option for children to learn remotely.
Gregory P. Mango
Schools Chancellor David Banks
Schools Chancellor David Banks insists “school is the safest place” for children to be amid a surge of COVID-19 cases.
Gregory P. Mango

Both Banks and Mayor Eric Adams repeatedly emphasized there are no plans to close down city schools and return to remote-only learning — and Banks said any attempt to bring back a remote option for parents would face significant logistical hurdles.

“We have not announced a remote learning option,” Banks said, before telling reporters that a remote option could potentially be on the table. “We are exploring the possibilities of the expansion of a remote learning option.”

A teacher demands a remote learning option during a rally on Jan. 10, 2022.
A teacher demands a remote learning option during a rally on Jan. 10, 2022.
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Assistant Principal Melissa Helman talks with Principal Alice Hom at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 on January 05, 2022.
Students, faculty and staff are required to wear masks inside schools at all times.
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Mayor Eric Adams
Mayor Eric Adams previously said “This is not Chicago” in his stance against closing down schools amid high amounts of absent students.
Stefan Jeremiah

He then further cautioned those comments.

“To turn around and do a remote learning option is not an easy thing to do,” Banks said. “It requires the reprogramming of school schedules.”

Pressure has mounted on city officials to expand options for families who are keeping their children at home as daily attendance rates remain at or below 75 percent.

Principal Alice Hom welcomes a student to her classroom at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in Chinatown on Jan. 5, 2022.
Principal Alice Hom welcomes a student to her classroom at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in Chinatown on Jan. 5, 2022.
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Students stage a walkout at Fiorello H. La Guardia High School in Manhattan in protest of no remote learning options on Jan. 11, 2022.
Students stage a walkout at Fiorello H. La Guardia High School in Manhattan in protest of no remote learning options on Jan. 11, 2022.
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Additional reporting by Susan Edelman