FAQ: Back to School Info for Immigrant Families

On what date do NYC public schools open for the new school year?

The new school year for New York City public schools begins on Thursday, September 7, 2023. To view the 2023-2024 school year calendar for all 3K-12 NYCDOE public schools, click here.

How do students get enrolled in school or 3K/Pre-K?

To enroll your child in elementary, middle, or high school, contact your local zoned school or visit your local Family Welcome Center for assistance. For enrollment and registration, parents or guardians must bring their child. Translation and interpretation services are available at the family’s request. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (718) 935-2828, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM. If you are unable to visit a Welcome Center, you can also apply online at MySchools or by calling 311. The MySchools website includes information on school options, as well as what documents parents may need to enroll their children, and is available in all major languages. If your child was born in 2019, they are guaranteed a spot in a Pre-K program, and can apply through the same process as their older peers. If your child was born in 2020, they may be placed in a 3-K program. 3-K seats are limited, but children may be placed on a waitlist if no seats are available. Additionally, families with children up to four years old can apply for free Head Start or Early Head Start programs which have no immigration status requirements.

Where are Family Welcome Centers located?

Until Friday, September 22, 2023, certain Family Welcome Centers will temporarily relocate to nearby schools. Updated Family Welcome Center locations can be found in digital flyers available in multiple languages. Normal hours and locations will resume on September 26. For the latest updates on hours and locations, please visit schools.nyc.gov/FWC.

What are the health requirements for enrollment?

All NYC students ages 2 months to 18 years must receive required vaccinations, except those with medical exemptions. Please note that in addition to required vaccines, new students must also receive a full health exam. We therefore encourage families to bring their students to a free or low-cost clinic where they can receive both their full health exam and their vaccinations. Parents can find information here on clinics by borough. Parents may also use the NYC Health Map or call 311. Learn more about the City’s immunization requirements by visiting the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Vaccinations for School and Day Care. Finally, all children, regardless of immigration status, are also eligible for free or low-cost health insurance under the Child Health Plus plan. To find out more, call 1-800-698-4KIDS (1-800-698-4543) or NY State of Heath at 1-855-355-5777, and ask about Child Health Plus.

How will parents be informed about the potential bus strike?

Up to half of current bus routes may be affected by a potential bus strike. For updates, visit this page, call the Office of Pupil Transportation Call Center at 718-392-8855, or email NYC’s Department of Education at transportation@schools.nyc.gov. NYC Public Schools will remain open even if a strike occurs. In the event of a strike, alternative transportation options will be available including emergency MetroCards, pre-paid rideshare, and transportation reimbursement. Check eligibility details here. Families who are affected will receive an automated call, email, and text message from the city if a strike is confirmed.

What do English Language Learners need to know about language access?

Students learning English are entitled to special instruction. Parents or guardians have the right to choose a Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE), Dual Language (DL), or English as a New Language (ENL). If another school in your child’s district offers a preferred program and has available seats, you have the right to transfer them. Seats in TBE and DL programs are limited. Request transfers through your child’s school or Family Welcome Center. Visit the DOE website for ELL program information. Find TBE and DL programs near you.

What language access rights do parents have?

All parents whose primary language is not English have the right to free translation and interpretation services. They also reserve the right to have their children’s school records and other documents translated into their language and to have interpreters available at meetings with school and DOE staff. If you are not provided translation or interpretation services, email hello@school.nyc.gov, call the DOE’s complaint line at 718-935-2013 or call 311.

For additional help with education-related issues, please call the Advocates for Children Education Helpline at (866) 427-6033 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, open Monday through Thursday. Translation and interpretation is available.