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Facing Monday deadline, New York City will again delay start of in-person classes

Erin Richards | September 17, 2020 |Read the full article on USA TODAY

Many charters going virtual

Many of New York's charter schools, which are privately run public schools that operate independent of the Department of Education, have already started the year with a return to remote learning. Close to 136,000 students attend charter schools in New York, which is about 13% of the public-school student population.

Public Prep, a network of five New York charter schools serving about 2,100 students, launched the school year on Aug. 25 with all children learning from home, first on a half-day schedule, then on a full-day schedule.

CEO Janelle Bradshaw said they concentrated on making sure all students, about 85% of whom are low-income, had devices and internet before the year started. The network has contracts with internet providers to get Wi-Fi to families, she said.

In early October, depending on health conditions, Public Prep plans to start offering in-person instruction as well. So far, 45% of families say they want that option; 55% have signaled they wish to stay remote, Bradshaw said.

The phased-in approach has allowed the network to plan ahead, and teachers are mirroring school culture and maintaining high standards as best they can through screens, Bradshaw said. 

But everyone looks forward to children coming back to classrooms.

"While we have made the best of remote learning, it is not the best way for all children to learn," Bradshaw said.