Advocates Demand Mayor’s School Reopening Plan Reach Immigrant Families

New York, NY—Today Mayor de Blasio announced that public schools would not fully reopen in September. Instead, the Mayor said students would be in the classroom one to three days a week to curb the COVID-19 outbreak. Under the Mayor’s proposal, schools would continue remote learning during the days students are not in school. The shift to remote learning created enormous challenges for parents who have struggled to help their children learn. This month, school principals will determine which of three staggered schedule options to adopt. That decision will depend on how many students and staff can fit into school buildings while social distancing, and on how many families want their children to return to school in the first place. School leaders will let parents know in August which days children can report to school, and which days they will learn remotely.

In response to the Mayor’s school reopening plan, the New York Immigration Coalition, which coordinates an Education Collaborative, issued the following statement:

“The complexity and changing nature of the City’s school reopening plan demands clear communication to students and their families. The transition to remote learning exacerbated existing challenges around language barriers and access to technology facing immigrant families. As we approach a new school year, City Hall and the DOE must improve the inconsistent and insufficient communication with immigrant families displayed during the first months of the COVID-19 outbreak. Over-reliance on electronic communication, language barriers, and a lack of clear communication plans have left many immigrant families at the back of the line in terms of devices, academic supports, childcare, and food access. Many of the families facing the most severe disconnect from their schools are also those who are most likely to have low digital and reading literacy and difficulty accessing Wi-Fi and technology. Ensuring that every kid can succeed in our schools will require providing families with timely, multilingual updates so they can voice their preferences, know their options, and plan. We call on City Hall, the DOE, and school leaders to deploy a proactive communications plan, informed by community input, to ensure that immigrant families aren’t left in the dark.”