When I became Chancellor this March, I was deeply moved to have the honor of leading the school system that I grew up in as a student, sent my children to as a parent, and served throughout my entire career. We are not only the largest system in the country by far, but also the most extraordinary, thanks to the remarkable diversity and dedication of our students, families, and staff. I see that especially now, as staff members and families across the city are doing all they can to keep communities safe from the Omicron variant.
As we head into the holiday season and I transition out of my role at the end of this year, I want to thank you for doing so much to make our homecoming and the first months of this school year safe and successful for everyone in our schools. This continues to be an extraordinarily challenging time, but your perseverance and professionalism has enabled our students to thrive as they returned to the community of the classroom, where they learn best. I could not be more proud or grateful for what we have accomplished together.
I am heartened that my former colleague and friend David Banks will be carrying the torch from me as your new Chancellor, and know that he will further build on the progress we have made for our students.
On my final tour of schools last week, a student said to me, “Thank you for helping me out as a young Black girl. You set a great example of success as the first Black woman Chancellor, and that gives me more hope than ever before.” I will always remember the people I met in this role, from that young woman to our incredible educators and our steadfast support staff who make New York City public schools possible. Here is a Farewell Video with images and thoughts from my school tour last week.
I am proud of what we accomplished together for our students and I am hopeful that children like that young woman are empowered to follow in our footsteps and find success in chasing their dreams.
Happy holidays and much gratitude to you all!
Chancellor, New York City Public Schools
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street | New York, NY 10007
As the holidays approach, we wish all our families a safe and healthy holiday season. We know that
COVID-19 delta and omicron variants may be on your mind and we want to make it clear that that the
health and safety of our children, families, and school staff is our highest priority. Vaccination is our
best tool in maintaining safer schools and defending against COVID-19. If you have a child who is at
least 5 years old and not yet vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to get them vaccinated as soon as
possible with the Pfizer vaccine (the only vaccine authorized for children age 5-17).
As a reminder, if your child is fully vaccinated, they do not need to quarantine and miss school if
exposed to a person with COVID-19. As long as your child is fully vaccinated (meaning that it has been
at least 2 weeks since the second COVID-19 vaccine dose) and does not have COVID-19 symptoms,
they can attend in-person school after being exposed. Also, students age 5 and older participating in
high-risk extracurricular sports and other high-risk extracurricular activities (such as singing and band)
must be vaccinated to participate in those activities during the 2021-22 school year.
In addition, we strongly recommend that all children receive the annual flu vaccine.
The flu and COVID19 are expected to circulate at the same time this season. Getting a flu vaccine reduces the chance of
serious illness and hospitalization due to the flu and has been shown to save children’s lives. Getting
both vaccines is important, because the flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19 and the
COVID-19 vaccine does not protect against flu. Your child can receive the flu vaccine at the same time
as all other vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Check with your child’s health care provider to
schedule a vaccination appointment or you can find vaccine sites for both flu and COVID-19 vaccines at
Once your child is vaccinated against COVID-19, you can upload an image of your child’s vaccination
card or NYC Excelsior Pass to the Department of Education’s vaccine portal at vaccine.schools.nyc
using your child’s Department of Education account information. Submitting that information will let us
know that your child does not have to quarantine if they become a close contact to a person with
You can find more information about the vaccine and other health and safety practices in our schools
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines, including vaccine sites, visit nyc.gov/covidvaccine.
We wish you and your family a very happy and safe holiday season.
Dave A. Chokshi, MD, MSc
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
NYC Department of Education
Letter of Gratitude
December 1, 2021
Since March, I have had the honor of a lifetime to serve as Chancellor for the incredible schools, educators,
communities, families and most importantly, your children who make up the New York City Department of
Education (NYCDOE). Today, I am sharing the bittersweet news that I will be stepping down from my role as
Chancellor at the end of this calendar year.
My biggest message to you today is one of gratitude - thank you for the trust, patience, kindness, and commitment
to our schools you have shown over the past few months. With your partnership, we have done so much together
to welcome students back to a school year like no other – this year of homecoming.
As a mother of a school-aged child myself, I know that the return to fully in-person schooling has been at times
both joyful and challenging. Coming out of a once in a lifetime pandemic, when our children needed
immense academic and emotional care, it has taken a village to provide the support our students deserve. I’m
thrilled that we did the impossible, and led the nation by safely reopening every single school for in-person
learning to ensure our babies got the support and attention they needed.
The intense work that has gone into supporting all students goes far beyond any single person or leader. Some of
the priorities and initiatives I know will continue include:
1. MAINTAINING SAFE AND HEALTHY SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTS: New York City is leading
the nation both with a staff of 100% vaccinated educators, and families rapidly accessing the opportunity
to get their children vaccinated who are 5 years or older. In just the last few weeks, our schools have
helped vaccinate over 43,000 students against COVID-19. If you haven’t had your child vaccinated yet,
it’s never too late! Visit schools.nyc.gov/coronavirus to find locations nearby and to make an
I’m proud of the decision we made in New York City to prioritize in-person student learning, and am so
grateful for the trust and partnership of parents and educators in making this a reality for our students.
Progress is not possible without your active participation; having your children vaccinated is central to
our ability to maintain a healthy school environment.
Through the measures we’ve taken like increasing vaccination rates, universal masking, daily health
screenings and random weekly testing of students, we’ve managed to keep our in-school positivity rate
extremely low at 0.24% and minimize disruptions to learning this year. We will continue to be vigilant
about these measures to keep schools open for your children. I encourage you to
visit schools.nyc.gov/coronavirus for the latest information on COVID-19 health and safety protocols in
our schools, testing and vaccination updates, and more.
2. GETTING TO KNOW YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION NEEDS: As we began this school year, it was
essential that we knew where students were both academically and emotionally, so that we could provide
them with targeted resources and support to meet their needs. To do this, our educators have begun using
new academic and social and emotional ‘screeners’ across all of our schools this year. These tools provide
low-stakes opportunities for teachers to get an idea of where students’ strengths and needs are at a certain
point in the school year, so that we can connect them with the right resources or targeted interventions to
support their learning and development. We encourage you to work with your school and teachers to learn
more about these tools, and to work together to utilize the results to help understand and provide what our
3. INVESTING IN NEW SUPPORTS AND RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS: As we shared in July, we
are investing hundreds of millions of dollars from the American Rescue Plan this school year in the form
of new resources and additional staff - including social workers, literacy teachers and coaches - so that all
students in NYCDOE schools receive the tools and support they need to thrive.
Our focus areas include: new social and emotional investments to help students heal from the past
year, academic investments to make your child’s literacy skills a priority, more special education support
available to students with disabilities, helping high school students get ready for college and career, and
ensuring that all children learn challenging material that reflects who they are throughout their time in our
schools with our new Mosaic curriculum. Learn more here: schools.nyc.gov/about-us/funding/
Lastly, I simply want to say thank you again for all that you do for your children and our schools.
We have workedhard every day to support our families and colleagues get back to a sense of normalcy while recognizing this
moment in history as a critical time to make important and innovative changes that better address our students’
needs. We could not do this without your partnership, and I am immensely grateful for the trust you have put
in the DOE and in me.
Your partnership has made it possible to keep our students safe and healthy, to get to know their education
needs even better than before, and to provide them with stronger and more durable tools to meet their immense
potential. Despite the challenging year-and-a-half we’ve endured, I believe we have a great opportunity to learn
from our recent experience and to move forward toward a brighter future for our children.
I know the nextadministration will share in this commitment, and I will work closely with the next Chancellor to ensure that a
positive, welcoming, and affirming experience for all children continues this year and beyond.
New York City Schools Chancellor
October 20, 2021
We are well into the second month of our school homecoming, and I am so pleased that we have been able to get back into full swing while keeping our school communities healthy with minimal disruptions. Thanks to our multilayered health and safety protocols, our schools continue to be among the safest places in New York City.
You, our families, deserve enormous credit as well for doing your part in protecting your school communities: checking your children’s temperatures every morning, encouraging safe practices like physical distancing and handwashing, and making sure they are wearing their masks before they head off to school. Thank you so much for being our partners in prioritizing their health and safety, and keep up the great work!
One very important way we are keeping our schools safe is weekly random testing of unvaccinated students (grades 1 and above) for COVID-19. This kind of regular testing to track community spread is most effective when we can test as many students as possible, but to do that we need you to submit a consent form if you haven’t already done so. Thank you to those families that have already submitted. You can fill out the testing consent form using your NYC Schools Account (NYCSA): schoolsaccount.nyc or download the form online at schools.nyc.gov/covidtesting and bring the completed version to your school. Testing is safe, quick, and easy. We urge you to provide this consent to help keep your child and our school communities safe.
You can learn more about the in-school COVID-19 testing program and watch a video showing what your child can expect at schools.nyc.gov/covidtesting.
If you have a child age 12 or over, the other major step you can take for their health is to get them vaccinated if you have not done so already. The vaccines are playing a huge role in reducing infection rates across the city, and are safe, free, and available regardless of immigration status. I strongly urge you to look for a nearby location where your child can receive the approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by visiting vaccinefinder.nyc.gov or calling 877-VAX-4-NYC (877-829-4692). If your child is already vaccinated, please upload that information to the DOE Covid-19 Vaccination Portal at vaccine.schools.nyc.
Thanks to your partnership, we have fully reopened our schools safely. The more families that provide consent for COVID-19 testing in schools and have their eligible children vaccinated, the greater the progress we can continue to make in protecting everyone across our City and in our schools. In partnership,
New York City Schools Chancellor