What Immigrant Families Need to Know About NYC’s School Reopening Plan

New York, NY-On September 21, New York City Public Schools will begin both full-day in-person and remote classes. Tomorrow, September 16, students start online orientation. New York’s 1.1 million school children make up the largest student body in the country. Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Education Chancellor Carranza pushed back the start date from September 10 to September 21. City Hall hoped the delay would provide more time for schools to prepare for the reopening. Even with the extra time, principals face significant challenges to address the staffing issues necessary to create two complementary versions of school, one in-person and one fully online.

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close in mid-March of 2020, the transition to remote learning quickly exacerbated the pre-existing inequities facing immigrant families and students. English Language Learners (ELL), students learning to speak, read and write in English, make up roughly 13% of New York’s 1.1 million student population. For years, insufficient programs that meet ELLs’ needs left many of New York’s ELL students behind, and COVID-19 has exacerbated this problem by adding profound communications and digital literacy challenges. Recognizing these issues, the New York Immigration Coalition held a briefing last Tuesday to provide families and students with the most up to date information possible from the Department of Education. This information is changing rapidly.

What Families Need to Know About the School Reopening


  • Wednesday, September 16-Friday, September 18
    • Teachers will remotely work with all students for an instructional transition and orientation period. Students won’t have to participate all day long, but ALL students will be expected to participate in this orientation period. 
  • Monday, September, 21 2020 

3 Key Steps to Prepare Your Child for the New School Year


  • Create an NYC Student Account. The NYC Student Accounts allow for families to update their personal information, including their phone numbers and addresses, which will help keep you informed. The account will also provide families with information about their child’s blended learning schedule.
    • If families cannot contact their schools, they should reach out to their district superintendents for help. 
  • Fill out the device request form and contact your school if your children do not yet have a device or have a device that was broken or damaged. 
  • Families interested in child care for remote learning days can call 311 or fill out a survey online for the Learning Bridges program.
  • Learning Bridges is a new DOE program that aims to provide free childcare for children 3K-8th grade on days when children are scheduled for remote learning. The program will initially be available for 300,000 children but is expected to grow in capacity. Families who previously completed the Learning Bridges survey will be automatically entered into the enrollment process, but are not guaranteed seats. Apply here.




  • The Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) is finalizing busing logistics, as contracts are still being finalized, drivers are still being re-hired and busses are being inspected by the DOE and the State. 


    • There will be alternatives to bus transportation for children who can’t access a school bus on the first day of school. 
    • OTP sent MetroCards to all schools and accounted for parents as well. Each school will figure out the MetroCard distribution for their school.
    • OPT will reimburse families who opt for other forms of transportation, such as car services, taxis, Ubers, etc. The DOE will have an online form to submit for reimbursement, which will be available in the next few days. Families should keep all receipts for any alternative forms of transportation used. 


    • Beginning on Monday, September 21, in-person students will receive grab and go food in school and will eat them in the classrooms 6 feet apart. Remote instruction students will have access to meals at the school buildings closest to them, through an exit door. Students will be able to pick up meals between 9 am-12 pm.
    • Adult meals will be available at about 200 schools in high-need places between 3-5 pm, the locations have not been finalized yet.