Brooklyn Bridge, New York, USA - 21 October, 2016: School bus riding on road on bridge background.
Pabkov /

Schools in New York City are delaying the first date of in-person learning for the year and are implementing various testing and safety measures in an effort to protect students and staff from COVID-19.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza and others announced an agreement to begin in-person learning on Sept. 21, according to a press release. Teachers will report to buildings on Sept. 8 as originally scheduled and will have dedicated time for training, professional development, and readiness to collaborate and prepare for blended and remote learning. 

“Reopening school during an ongoing pandemic is one of the most complex challenges any government anywhere has had to figure out in modern history, and New York City is best positioned to do so,” says Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “So many things about this year will be new, but the fundamentals remain the same: the majority of our students plan to return to buildings, students will learn best in person with a caring teacher as often as possible, and we will lead with health and safety every step of the way.”

Beginning immediately, prioritized access to testing will be available to students, teachers, and department of education school-based staff at 34 sites across the city. These sites will give priority to all department of education workers so they can quickly be tested, and provide results within 24-48 hours. Beginning Oct. 1 and recurring each month, it will be mandatory for schools to test a random 10 to 20 percent sample of their students participating in blended learning and on-site staff population. Families will be asked to sign a consent form at the start of the year for their child to participate at random, and be notified ahead of time if their child has been selected for the month.

School leaders and educators will be fully trained on health and safety protocols and have ample time to coordinate with each other to ensure they can provide educational continuity between remote and in-person days for blended learning.

On Sept. 16, schools will begin engaging students in learning and orienting them to the new school year prior to the first in-person day on Sept. 21. They will use this remote launch to engage students in health and safety procedures, and talk to students about connectivity for remote learning, wellness and social emotional health heading into an unprecedented school year, and to ensure students are ready to learn. An important focus of this orientation period will be on the social and emotional well-being of students and families and provide an opportunity for deeper understanding of the ways this unprecedented school year will work.

Health and safety continues to lead all reopening plans, and the city will not reopen schools if the citywide infection rate exceeds 3 percent. The citywide infection rate is currently 1.3 percent.