NYC schools conduct remote learning practice ahead of winter recess

A young student works on a laptop on a wooden table.
NYC schools are practicing remote learning this week after the city faced multiple severe weather events this year. (Nathan W. Armes/Chalkbeat)

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New York City public schools families: Get ready to log into remote classrooms this week as the city prepares for potential weather-related or other school building closures.

Families may have already received communications from their schools urging them to sign into online accounts and take other steps to prepare for possible remote learning days. The guidance comes just weeks before the winter recess and as the city has endured several severe weather events this year.

“We are striving to ensure that students have the tools that they need to avoid interruptions in their learning in the face of emergencies, including inclement weather,” said Chyann Tull, a spokesperson for the city’s Education Department. “We will have students at every New York City Public School practice logging in and engaging in remote activities in their classrooms to make for smooth transitions in emergency situations.”

Students will still attend school in person on the day of their remote practice, according to city officials. The practices across the city’s 1,600 schools are expected to take place by Friday.

Since the onset of the pandemic, remote learning has been an alternative to canceling classes on days when the weather prevents students from traveling to school. In New York City, that meant the end of snow days as the city seeks to ensure it meets the state mandated 180 days of instruction per year.

Last year, the New York City area saw one of its mildest winters in history. While the National Weather Service forecasts a warmer than average winter across the region this year, the city’s schools have already experienced other major weather-related disruptions.

In June, wildfire smoke drifting into the city from Canada impacted schools, with city officials first canceling all outdoor activities before turning to remote learning.

A torrential downpour in September brought more than 5 inches of rain to the city’s schools, flooding 150 school buildings and complicating commutes for thousands of students and schools staff. The city did not cancel in-person learning during the storm — a decision that sparked criticism from some parents and educators.

Julian Shen-Berro is a reporter covering New York City. Contact him at jshen-berro@chalkbeat.org.

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