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Mayor Bill de Blasio dug in Monday and defended his school reopening plan after critics — including Andrew Gov. Cuomo — blasted it as little more than an outline that left gaping questions about the new academic year unanswered.
State officials required all districts to submit a report detailing their approach to reviving school systems in September amid the coronavirus crisis.
But the city’s 32-page submission drew poor marks for a lack of specificity and comparatively meager length. One Cuomo official noted that Yonkers – which has a total of 27,000 kids – produced a roughly 80-page report.
Both the city teachers and principals unions argued that the plan fell well short on safety assurances and logistical precision.
The state also requested reopening plans for all of New York City’s roughly 1,800 schools but the the Department of Education requested and was granted an extension.
De Blasio stressed the size of the nation’s largest school system and insisted that he and the DOE were prepared for the onrushing start of the new year.
“It’s a big undertaking,” he said. “But it’s all about health and safety first.”
De Blasio denied being bothered by Cuomo’s pointed scolding.
“I am past the point of irritation,” he said. “I just focus on the work and I’m focused on the people I serve.”
De Blasio was later asked about ongoing dissatisfaction with the quality of remote learning in city schools.
Parents griped about a lack of live instruction after the DOE transitioned to distance learning last year and those complaints have persisted during summer school sessions.
Hizzoner said he hasn’t gotten a “particularly new update” on the issue before stressing the need for a return to classroom activity.
“There’s no one I’ve talked to in education from the chancellor on down who relishes more online learning,” he said. “We are trying to maximize online learning for the good of our kids because we know it makes a world of difference. Online is a tool we will use when we need to use it but it’s inherently imperfect.
De Blasio said the DOE will push to increase direct contact between students and school staff during remote this year but said the format can never replace face to face teaching.
“It will never be as good as in person,” said. “That’s why our plan calls for maximizing in person learning as long as we can do it safely.”
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