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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter from Chancellor Meisha Porter was originally sent to families and published on the NYC Department of Education’s website on 5/24/21.


Dear Families:

First, thank you. I know the past year has required resiliency, determination, flexibility, and sacrifices from all of us, and from you in particular. You have taken on new roles that many of you never imagined you’d have to take on, and have balanced so much while coping with losses and the many life challenges that COVID-19 brought to us over the past year.

As we close out this school year, I am looking forward to the opportunity that lies before us to reimagine what school is and means for your children. We know that we have to welcome our students back to warm, welcoming, and affirming learning environments that challenge them academically while lifting them up when they need support.

As our schools work hard on reimagining how we educate our children, I am excited to share with you our reopening plans for fall 2021. Based on available health indicators, we will return to full-time, in-person learning this September. This means that all students in grades 3-K through 12 will be learning in-person this fall.

Chancellor Porter dipping hands into a tub of soapy water with a student

We are excited to welcome all teachers and students back into City classrooms this fall!

All teachers and staff members will also be returning to in-person instruction this fall. We are very grateful for the dedication of all our principals, teachers, and school staff members and recognize the hard work they have done during this challenging year. We’re excited for your children to reconnect with their beloved teachers and school staff members, in addition to their peers, this fall.

As we prepare for your children, as well as teachers and staff members, to return to schools, we will continue our commitment to prioritize health and safety first. With a current rolling seven-day COVID positivity rate of 0.16% and a consistently low transmission rate, our schools have a proven track record of being safe. We will meet whatever the CDC’s social distancing requirements are in September, and we expect that the City’s continuously improving health metrics may allow for more flexibility by the fall. Finally, in our commitment to keep health and safety a top priority, we plan to adhere to the many health and safety measures we had in place this past school year, including the following:

    • Masks will continue to be a requirement in all of our school buildings;
    • Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms will continue to be required to stay at home;
    • Students, teachers, and staff members will continue to complete the daily health screener at home;
    • Every school building will continue to have a nurse;
    • Every classroom will have working ventilation systems;
    • On-site COVID-19 testing will continue in school buildings as recommended by the latest health guidance; and
    • The Situation Room will continue to support schools with next steps if there are positive cases.
Chancellor Porter standing against a wall next to two student ambassadors and an educator

Masks will continue to be a requirement for City students and staff members inside NYC public schools throughout the 2021–2022 school year.

We know that many of our students have not attended school in-person since March of 2020, and that returning to school in-person this fall will be an adjustment. We promise to do everything we can to welcome your children back and provide the supports needed to ensure a positive homecoming. We’ve already made investments to hire more teachers and social workers, and we will have academic and social-emotional learning programs available to support our students.

Here are some ways that we are supporting with the transition now, and we encourage you and your children to participate:

I am hosting borough-wide family town halls to hear more from you about this fall, and how we can use our resources to ensure a positive homecoming for your children and provide an enriching and challenging academic experience that integrates social-emotional learning.

School Open Houses

Starting in June and throughout the summer, every school will host open houses for families to visit, take a tour, and learn about the health and safety precautions in place that have kept our schools safe over the last year.

      • Your child’s school will be in touch with you about when these will be scheduled, and we encourage you to participate to learn more.

In partnership with the Department of Youth and Community Development, we are so excited to provide an enriching, fun, and joyful summer camp experience for any interested student. We encourage your child to join us — to be welcomed back into their school communities, reconnect with teachers and staff members, and get ready for fall while having fun!

____

Thank you for your partnership, your engagement, and your dedication to your children’s education over the last year. I am in awe of how our communities came together to lift each other up to ensure our children had the best experience possible despite enormous challenges. I am looking forward to partnering with you, learning from you, and leveraging all we’ve done together over the last year to create a new normal starting in September — one that is warm and welcoming, affirming and enriching, and exciting and challenging — for each one of your children.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Meisha Porter's signature

Meisha Porter
Chancellor, NYC Department of Education

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NYC Department of Education, 2019