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NYC Public Schools: Important Updates for the Close of the 2020-21 School Year

Take a breath, we've nearly made it! This past school year has been our hardest yet. We’re nearing 10 weeks to the end of the school year, but what will those weeks look like? Luckily, the NYC Department of Education has provided updates recently that may help us answer that question. Parents and students can expect to see the effect of changes in testing and school closure criteria in weeks to come.

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Parents of kids in NYC public schools have kept up impressively with the barrage of curveballs this past school year. Between navigating sudden stay-at-home orders, and working from home alongside the kids, parents have proved their superhuman resolve. Any chance they might be getting a break in the upcoming year? Well, there’s good news for parents stressing about the upcoming school year.

State Exams & Regents

For the close of the 2020-2021 school year, NYC public schools will not be requiring students to take certain Regents exams. As of April 8th, the Chancellor has announced the only mandatory Regents exams this year will be those in English, Algebra I, Earth Science, and Living Environment. Tip-Top Brain offers tutoring for each of these required Regents exams and classes, with expert instructors ready to help. All other Regents are cancelled.

No different than the alterations made last academic year, students will not be expected to pass Regents exams outside of the four required at no detriment to their graduation. So long as your child passes their required Regents classes, they will have earned the credits required to graduate.

COVID Protocols

The most important recent update on NYC schools is a new opt-in period for elementary schoolers wishing to pursue in-person learning. In light of distancing guidelines being relaxed, schools will be required to distance students 3 feet from one another instead of 6. Consequently, families are required to opt-in by April 7th if they want their child attending in-person under the revised protocol.

Importantly, as of April 12th, the criteria for COVID-outbreak triggered school closures have tightened. Under the new outbreak contingency plan, schools will only be able to close due to COVID if four or more classrooms have at least one COVID case within the same 7-day period.

In other words, a school may have 3 classrooms with 4 cases of COVID in each, but the school will not close. However, 4 classrooms may have 1 case of COVID in each, and the school will be temporarily forced to close. Either way, in the event COVID cases pop up in school, spread mitigation efforts will be implemented should the case count and distribution force the school to move online. Namely, should any student test positive, the student’s class will immediately transition to remote learning for 10 days.

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For years now students and parents alike have been rightfully frustrated with the way public schools are prioritized. In many ways, public school systems in America have been slow to grow for decades now, despite public support for more robust funding and investment in schools. With the start of the pandemic, the harm of ill-resourced schools became apparent to communities, and consequently, change is coming.

This fiscal year, all NYC public schools will be awarded their full budgetary allowance under the city’s “fair student funding” formula derived in 2007. Fortunately, close to three quarters of NYC public schools will be seeing more funding than they have in years past. Schools city-wide will have far greater opportunities to invest in the educational success of students facing financial insecurity, struggling academically, coping with disabilities, or learning English as a new language. The total funding increase for NYC public schools comes to $600 million a year— at a time schools couldn’t need it more.

The year ahead looks daunting, but we’re ready. Remember how hard the pandemic-induced chaos felt at first? As uncertain as things were, parents and students rose to the occasion. Though the pandemic came with some academic bumps and scrapes, moving forward, I’m optimistic parents and students will slowly but surely find simplicity and security in school days.

As NYC schools learn their limitations, and families their own, we’re beginning to get on the same page. Of course, due to the nature of our COVID-crisis, things change–quickly. Even before they do, try and make it a habit to check-in with your child’s school. It can be difficult with the amount of traffic our inboxes are seeing these days, but being first-to-know about changes in your child’s school COVID protocol and status, or academic deadlines and test dates, can make all the difference.

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