Amid Growth in Remote Learning Nationwide, NYC Brings Younger Students...


Amid Growth in Remote Learning Nationwide, NYC Brings Younger Students Back to the Classroom

Dec 9, 2020

On Monday, New York City schools reopened for elementary school students, who will now be eligible for in-person instruction. Middle and high school students will continue to learn fully remotely. The move marks a reversal from the district’s mid-November decision to shutter schools when the city’s COVID-19 positivity rate topped three percent, the district’s previous threshold for closure.

Along with much of the nation, New York City is experiencing a coronavirus surge. Positivity rates and cases now surpass figures at the beginning of the school year when city and school district officials delayed the start of in-person classes amid safety concerns.

What prompted the decision to reopen elementary schools amid the current surge? Studies documenting the danger of learning loss during remote learning are piling up. New York City is losing enrollment, with 31,000 choosing to leave the district amid changing attendance structures and remote learning.

Other studies suggest that elementary school-age children are less at-risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19. Districts around the country are taking note. In one example, Michigan’s recent blanket school closures extended only to high schools and colleges. Elementary and middle schools are permitted to remain open for in-person instruction.

An EdSurge/Social Context Labs database of 375 districts shows that as of Nov. 30, just 17 districts (5%) offered remote learning for some ages and not others. But the last few weeks has also seen an increase in the number of districts that are offering remote instruction only, with no option for learning in-person. Nearly 40% of districts are now fully remote, with many others temporarily closing physical buildings over Thanksgiving. As districts try to balance quality instruction with safety, the number of districts offering elementary school students with some in-person component may increase.

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