The Department of Education has not given public-school Principals enough support to determine how they can safely resume classes in the fall, a frustrated Council of Schools Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro warned July 23 in a letter to members.
“As we near the end of July, it is abundantly clear that the DOE has not provided you with the guidance and relevant information necessary for you to effectively plan for the opening of school buildings and offices in the fall,” the letter stated. “CSA knows that without clear guidance and support on protocols and issues of safety, staffing, and programming, your tasks are unrealistic and insurmountable.”
Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced that schools will reopen in September with staggered scheduling, which will require students to come to school a few times a week and receive remote instruction on other days. Families have also been given the choice to have students learn remotely full-time.
The DOE released several models that schools can follow to split students into two or three cohorts, depending on what percentage of the school’s population can be in the building simultaneously while still maintaining social-distancing protocols.
Principals were supposed to submit a model of what hybrid instruction would look like at their school, but the union asked for the date to be pushed back because of “a lack of direction” from the DOE. The agency agreed to extend the deadline to Aug. 14.
“It is our hope and expectation that DOE uses this time efficiently and appropriately guides, directs, and answers you in a manner it has not done to this point,” Mr. Cannizzaro wrote.
In addition to the complicated task of figuring out how to resume in-person instruction, school leaders have also had to deal with poor summer-school planning and a required three-day professional development program, the union leader lamented.
“As each day passes without clear guidance and safety assurances, it becomes less likely that we will be ready to reopen in September,” Mr. Cannizzaro said.
DOE spokeswoman Danielle Filson said that agency officials have been regularly meeting with the CSA and the United Federation of Teachers.
“Now is not the time to stoke fear and anxiety amongst school leaders, and we will continue, in partnership with CSA, to work around the clock to develop guidance that aligns with this evolving health crisis,” she said.
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