2020-2021 DOE's Homecoming Health and Safety Guide
Letter From Our New Chancellor
March 19, 2021
This was my first week as your new Chancellor, and I couldn’t be more excited to take on this role. Not only because I am a New Yorker born and bred, but because education is in my blood. Both my mom and auntie were teachers and I became a New York City public school English teacher because of them, and the amazing educators I had as a student myself growing up in Queens.
Since I started at the DOE 21 years ago, I have also worked as an assistant principal, and then principal. More recently, I served our school communities as a superintendent and Bronx executive superintendent.
And now it is my honor and privilege to lead our schools citywide. I have spent much of this week seeing our brilliant students and educators from every borough in action, in-person and remotely. I saw pre-k students learn about the water cycle, joined sixth graders in learning ratios by mixing just the right ratio of food coloring into frosting, and joined seventh-graders in sharing special objects that reveal something about who we are. Despite all the changes and challenges we’ve faced this past year, our school communities are still joyful, vibrant places of learning.
As I reflect on this week’s visits, I am also heartened by the beautiful diversity of our classrooms, communities, and our City as a whole. In our schools, “respect for all” is not just a slogan, but a way of life. We value every student, staff member, and family for who they are. We ensure everyone feels welcomed. This is at our very core.
But the horrific anti-Asian hate crimes we’ve been seeing citywide and this week in Atlanta make it clear that we must work harder to end systemic racism. Justice and inclusivity have been pillars of my career as an educator. As Chancellor, I promise to continue to advance equity and dismantle any biases in our school system. And I want to make it clear: there is no room for racism or discrimination of any kind at the Department of Education or in any of our schools. Just this week, we provided our educators with updated resources to combat hate crimes in our schools and provide our students with social and emotional supports. You can find resources for discussing racism and hate crimes with your children at schools.nyc.gov/togetherforjustice.
Creating environments that encourage all students to be who they are will be on my mind on March 22, when all our public high schools will begin welcoming students back to in-person and blended learning. Like elementary and middle schools, as well as our District 75 programs, high schools will follow the strong practices we have established to help keep school communities healthy and safe. This includes weekly random testing of students and staff for COVID-19, physical distancing, masks, and nightly deep cleaning. In the meantime, I’m excited about this important milestone in the city’s recovery. And I’m proud to lead a school system that has set the standard for the nation in reopening efforts.
This is such a hopeful and historic time for our schools and our city, and I want to thank you for all you have done to support our students and schools. In the coming weeks, there will be opportunities for us to meet and talk. I promise to hear and include your voices as we finish out this school year and plan for the next.
Let’s go. Let’s do this. We’re ready.
New York City Schools Chancellor
Important Update and a Note of Gratitude
I hope you and your families are keeping safe and healthy. I’m writing today with some important news.
After three years leading the DOE, I will be stepping down as Chancellor at the end of March.
I am full of mixed emotions to leave the DOE family, because you are the most dedicated colleagues I have ever had the privilege of working with. I am in awe of your talent and passion. The work we have done together has surpassed what I thought a school district could be capable of.
When I started at the DOE in April of 2018, it was with a mission and a purpose: to help our system reach its full potential, so it could lift up as many children as possible in the way that only public education can.
Throughout my career, my guiding light has been the belief that public education is the most powerful equalizer for our young people. Public education anchors communities. Public education makes it possible for a child who is poor, or who lives in temporary housing, or—in my own case—who doesn’t speak English when they enter the public school system, to develop their dreams, and then to chase them. Truly, it is public education that expresses the highest ideals of our democracy. My time here in New York City has only strengthened this belief, as I have seen it play out time and again in schools all across this amazing city.
So together, we got to work. And while our work is never “done”—there is always more to do to accomplish our dual missions of equity and excellence—we created a lot of change.
Together, we supported our students’ continued academic achievement. Our seniors kept breaking their own records as graduation rates and college enrollment kept rising higher, and the dropout rate kept getting lower.
We made true progress in dismantling the structures and policies that are the products of decades of entrenched racism in the city and country. We have worked to undo segregation and turn “equity” from an esoteric concept into a reality for our students. Every school that is working towards culturally responsive-sustaining education or no longer screens children for admission, and every district that uses DOE resources to create more space and opportunity for low-income or English language learners, is making this mission real.
We finally brought the mental health and social-emotional needs of our children into the spotlight and made it a major priority. Those of you who work directly with our students know that a child needs to feel welcomed, comfortable, and safe in their classroom and school community—especially now, when so many of our students are dealing with unforeseeable trauma. We’ve kept our children in the classroom more—capping the length of suspensions, and implementing restorative practices—giving students every opportunity to learn and grow, academically and socially.
And, of course, during the COVID-19 pandemic—a time none of us could have ever imagined—together we stepped up to serve a million students looking to us for stability and community in a time of crisis. We transformed the nation’s largest school system overnight in order to protect the health of our students, staff, families, and communities. We reinvented what it means to teach and learn in New York City public schools.
This meant tireless hours preparing and teaching remotely; creating safe learning environments for children of essential workers; distributing 500,000 devices for remote learning; serving 80 million free meals; and successfully reopening of nearly all of our schools, when everyone doubted our ability to do it safely. New York City has consistently led the way on school reopening nationally in the past year – and none of it would have been possible without the contributions of each of you.
Throughout, I have been proud to prioritize what’s best for kids over what’s politically popular. I have never been afraid of hard conversations. I have always believed that we need to set a high bar for every student—and then do what it takes to help them meet it.
All of you, and all the children we serve, need and deserve both continuity and courageous leadership from your next Chancellor. You need someone who knows firsthand the reality on the ground at our schools, and has the talent and leadership to finish the school year out strong and drive towards bringing every child back to buildings in September.
That is why I am so proud that one of the most important leaders in this work will be taking on the privilege and responsibility of being your next Chancellor: Meisha Porter.
Meisha is a 20-year veteran of New York City public schools, and currently serves as Bronx Executive Superintendent, where she leads community school districts 7-12, covering the entire borough and its 361 schools and 235,000 students. She is a lifelong New Yorker and product of our public schools. Meisha began her career as a youth organizer in Highbridge, and joined the Department of Education as a teacher at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, a school she helped to found. After 18 years at the school, where she became principal, Meisha spent three years as Superintendent of District 11, which serves the Pelham Parkway, Eastchester, and Woodlawn neighborhoods of the Bronx. She has been Executive Superintendent since 2018, and in that time, the students of the Bronx have achieved tremendous academic progress, and schools have gotten stronger and stronger.
Meisha is an unparalleled warrior for our students and our schools. She attended and graduated from them, she taught in them, she led them, and now she will be Chancellor for ALL of them. None of the last several Chancellors—myself included—have been actively working with our schools, day in and day out, at the time they were appointed. Meisha will bring all her experience, past and present, to support you and to support our students. You will be hearing much more from Meisha soon, and I will be working with her over the next several weeks to ensure a smooth and productive transition. I couldn’t be happier to pass the torch to someone so deserving and so talented.
More than anything, I am proud to have served with you, and so proud of the strides we have made. I don’t know what’s next for me, but I know I will take the spirit and richness of New York City with me everywhere and anywhere I go.
It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as your Chancellor. I am grateful to each and every one of you.
Update for Families January 26, 2021
January 22, 2021
I hope the new year is treating you and your loved ones well and that your children are settling back into their
learning routines. There are a lot of great things happening in our public schools this month!
First, we are committed to continuing to improve teaching and learning during this unprecedented school year.
Your feedback is key to this effort. This week, we launched our School Experience Survey to learn about our
students’ and families’ experiences with remote and in-person learning this school year. Our goal is to use that
feedback to improve learning for the rest of the year. Families of children in grades 3-K – 12, and students in
grades 6 – 12 can go right now to schools.nyc.gov/experiencesurvey to tell us what you think!
Second, you may be aware that we are making some important changes to our elementary, middle, and high
school admissions processes to better serve all our students. These changes will help us continue to move toward
a better, more equitable school system that helps every student succeed.
In the Update for Families below, you will find additional information on these new admissions policies, as well
as on the School Experience Survey.
In other news, I want to share that we have delivered 450,000 free devices to students since last spring to help
them with their remote learning. We have 50,000 more devices on the way. Need a device? Ask your school. You
no longer need to fill out an online form; your school will help you through the process to receive one.
The free COVID-19 vaccine is also in the news, and you probably wonder when and where you can get yours.
New Yorkers age 65 or older and certain frontline essential workers, including school and childcare staff, are now
eligible to get the vaccine. Eligible New Yorkers can reserve their appointment by calling (877) VAX-4NYC or
by visiting nyc.gov/VaccineFinder. You can also access up-to-date information about who is eligible anytime
at nyc.gov/vaccinecommandcenter. COVID-19 vaccines are not yet being administered to children under age 16;
however, we will communicate if and when children under age 16 are eligible to receive it.
Thank you again for partnering with us to ensure that all our students receive the best education possible in the
greatest city in the world.
Richard A. Carranza
New York City Department of Education
December 15, 2020
I hope you are safe and well.
As we head into winter, it’s likely we will have inclement weather that in an ordinary year would cause all schools
to close for teaching and learning. This year, if a snowstorm or other weather demands that school buildings
close, all schools will still conduct remote learning on that day. All students will be expected to log on and engage
with their work from home as they do on other days when they learn remotely. Middle and high school students
who are already learning remotely every day are expected to attend school remotely, regardless of the weather.
The ability to teach and learn remotely across the system allows us to continue learning despite inclement weather
closures. You will still be notified as usual when we are closing buildings due to weather, but these will not be
days off from learning.
Your school will stay in close communication with you regarding the upcoming snowstorm predicted to affect
New York City beginning the evening of Wednesday, December 16.
Please note that extra meals will be available on Tuesday, December 15 and Wednesday, December 16 to take home.
Please do not hesitate to contact your principal if you have any questions.
Richard A. Carranza
New York City Department of Education
Update for Families, December 11, 2020
What You Need to Know about Mandatory, In-School Testing
In order for your child to return to in-person learning, you must submit the consent form for in-school COVID19 testing by the first day your child returns to their school building.
Testing will happen weekly for a random selection of staff and students in your child’s school.
Any student in grade 1 or higher returning to school buildings must submit a consent form for COVID19 testing in school by their first day back in school buildings.
3-K, pre-K, and kindergarten students are excluded from random testing.
The test is quick, safe, and easy. If you have not submitted a consent form and your child is learning in
person, you must do so right away.
How to Submit Consent for In-School Random Testing
Submitting consent to have your child tested for COVID-19 in school is quick and easy. Even if you have
already submitted consent, we ask you to do so again to ensure your student has the latest consent form on file.
There are two easy ways to submit:
1) Fill out the form online using a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA) at mystudent.nyc.
If you already have a NYCSA account linked to your student(s): Log in, click your student’s name, click
“Manage Account,” and then when a dropdown menu appears, click “Consent Forms.” Read the page, and then
choose the consent option at the end for your student.
If you do not already have a NYCSA account: You can create one right away! If you have an account creation
code from your school, you can create a full account in approximately five minutes, and then provide consent as
described above. If you do not have an account creation code from your school, you can still provide your
consent right away by clicking “Manage Consent” under “COVID-19 Testing” and filling out your and your
child’s information to provide consent.
2) Print and sign the attached form and bring it to your child’s school on the first day they are back in the school
building. A printable PDF file is available in ten languages at schools.nyc.gov/covidtesting.
What to Do if Your Child Has Recently Traveled
If your child has recently traveled outside of New York to a place on the State’s travel advisory list
they must quarantine for 14 days.
They also have the option to test out of quarantine based on the State’s guidelines:
You or your child should continue to complete the health questionnaire daily.
What You Need to Know about Exemptions from In-School Testing
Exemptions will only be granted in certain limited cases, and two types of exemption request forms are
available at schools.nyc.gov/covidtesting:
A form for students who need a medical exemption due to a health condition that would make it unsafe
to undergo testing (e.g., facial trauma, nasal surgery). This form must be signed by a physician and be
submitted with supporting medical documentation.
A form for students with disabilities who cannot be safely tested in school due to the nature of their
disability. Students with an approved disability-based exemption will be expected to get tested outside
How to Apply for Kindergarten for the 2021–2022 School Year
It’s time to start your child’s journey through elementary school! If you live in New York City and your child
was born in 2016, the kindergarten application is now open. Be sure to apply by January 19, 2021.
You can apply one of two ways:
Online at MySchools.nyc. Click on the link to create or access your MySchools account.
By phone at (718) 935-2009. Call Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., or Saturday
through Sunday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
With MySchools, you can search for schools, find great choices for your child’s application, and apply to
kindergarten—all in one place.
To learn more about kindergarten admissions, visit schools.nyc.gov/kindergarten.
Our new Elementary Admissions Video series will walk you through what to expect, how to set up your
MySchools account, and how to apply. Stay tuned: More videos are coming soon!
For questions, call (718) 935-2009 or email ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov.
How to Learn More About Elementary Admissions
Join us for a virtual Elementary Admissions event to learn about 3-K, pre-K, and kindergarten admissions. Find
out what to expect and how to apply. All New York City families are welcome to attend.
Sessions will be held on the following dates:
Tuesday, December 15, at 2 p.m.
Thursday, December 17, at 6 p.m.
Wednesday, January 6, at 6 p.m.
Thursday, January 7, at 6 p.m. This event will be hosted in Spanish.
Tuesday, January 12, at 2 p.m
Register for a session at tinyurl.com/NYCDOEElementaryEventsSurvey. When you register, be sure to indicate
your language preference—interpretation services in specific languages will be provided for each session based
on these responses.
How to Participate in Parent University
Parent University is a new online platform that offers a catalog of courses, live events, and activities to help
connect with families and support students. The platform offers all New York City parents and guardians access
to live and on-demand courses and resources across multiple subject areas and grade bands. Courses are
available in multiple languages and we’re working to expand the number of multilingual offerings.
All families, from early childhood to adult education, can create a free account and register for workshops,
attend an event, find a training and more. There are currently 95+ courses offered covering a wide range of
Remote Learning and Technology
Health and Wellness
Early Childhood Education
School Buildings and Operations
Adult and Continuing Education
You can start Parent University today at parentu.schools.nyc.