Since March, I have had the honor of a lifetime to serve as Chancellor for the incredible schools, educators, communities, families and most importantly, your children who make up the NYC Department of Education (DOE). Today, I am sharing the bittersweet news that I will be stepping down from my role as Chancellor at the end of this calendar year.
My biggest message to you today is one of gratitude—thank you for the trust, patience, kindness, and commitment to our schools you have shown over the past few months. With your partnership, we have done so much together to welcome students back to a school year like no other.
As a mother of a school-aged child myself, I know that the return to fully in-person schooling has been at times both joyful and challenging. Coming out of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, when our children needed immense academic and emotional care, it has taken a village to provide the support our students deserve. I’m thrilled that we did the impossible and led the nation by safely reopening every single school for in-person learning to ensure our babies got the support and attention they needed.
The intense work that has gone into supporting all students goes far beyond any single person or leader. Some of the priorities and initiatives I know will continue include:
MAINTAINING SAFE AND HEALTHY SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTS: New York City is leading the nation both with a staff of 100% vaccinated educators and families rapidly accessing the opportunity to get their children vaccinated who are five years or older. In just the last few weeks, our schools have helped vaccinate over 43,000 students against COVID-19. If you haven’t had your child vaccinated yet, it’s never too late! Visit schools.nyc.gov/coronavirus to find locations nearby and to make an appointment.
I’m proud of the decision we made to prioritize in-person student learning, and am so grateful for the trust and partnership of parents and educators in making this a reality for our students. Progress is not possible without your active participation; having your children vaccinated is central to our ability to maintain a healthy school environment.
Through the measures we’ve taken like increasing vaccination rates, universal masking, daily health screenings, and random weekly testing of students, we’ve managed to keep our in-school positivity rate extremely low at 0.24% and minimize disruptions to learning this year. We will continue to be vigilant about these measures to keep schools open for your children. I encourage you to visit our website for the latest information on COVID-19 health and safety protocols in our schools, testing and vaccination updates, and more.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION NEEDS: As we began this school year, it was essential that we knew where students were both academically and emotionally so that we could provide them with targeted resources and support to meet their needs. To do this, our educators have begun using new academic and social and emotional ‘screeners’ across all of our schools this year. These tools provide low-stakes opportunities for teachers to get an idea of where students’ strengths and needs are at a certain point in the school year so that we can connect them with the right resources or targeted interventions to support their learning and development. We encourage you to work with your school and teachers to learn more about these tools and to work together to utilize the results to help understand and provide what our students need.
INVESTING IN NEW SUPPORTS AND RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS: As we shared in July, we are investing hundreds of millions of dollars from the American Rescue Plan this school year in the form of new resources and additional staff members—including social workers, literacy teachers and coaches—so that all students in City public schools receive the tools and support they need to thrive.
Our focus areas include: new social and emotional investments to help students heal from the past year, academic investments to make your child’s literacy skills a priority, more special education support available to students with disabilities, helping high school students get ready for college and career, and ensuring that all children learn challenging material that reflects who they are throughout their time in our schools with our new Mosaic curriculum.
Lastly, I simply want to say thank you again for all that you do for your children and our schools. We have worked hard every day to support our families and colleagues get back to a sense of normalcy while recognizing this moment in history as a critical time to make important and innovative changes that better address our students’ needs. We could not do this without your partnership, and I am immensely grateful for the trust you have put in the DOE and in me.
Your partnership has made it possible to keep our students safe and healthy, to get to know their education needs even better than before, and to provide them with stronger and more durable tools to meet their immense potential. Despite the challenging year-and-a-half we’ve endured, I believe we have a great opportunity to learn from our recent experience and to move forward toward a brighter future for our children. I know the next administration will share in this commitment, and I will work closely with the next Chancellor to ensure that a positive, welcoming, and affirming experience for all children continues this year and beyond.
NYC Department of Education