Many NYC students don't have devices for remote learning, councilman says

Thousands of New York City students aren't showing up for remote learning because of technology and internet issues.

"As of last week, School District 22 in southern Brooklyn has over 1,500 requests for technology and internet," said Councilman Mark Treyger, the chair of the Education Committee and a former New York City teacher.

Treyger said Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Education are to blame for not getting the devices to students on time, claiming they had six months to prepare for remote learning, and no plan. 

"The mayor has been winging it this entire time," he said. "They had no plan." 

Treyger said that principals in District 22 have told him they've been trying to order devices through the Department of Education's approved vendor but haven't had any luck.

"Principals are telling me when parents call them asking them for technology and they try to order it, it's out of stock," Treyger said.

However, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza on Monday told reporters that he estimates that over 900,000 devices, including the 320,000 devices that have already loaned out to students back in March, are available. But Treyger said he doesn't believe it because every student would have a device.

"Where are they? Where are these devices?" Treyger said. "Why is there a growing list of requests made by parents and school communities to their schools and DOE?" 

Carranza said the DOE is working very closely with the schools.

"We are not going to let a student who does not have a device not have a device," he said during Monday's press conference.

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Meanwhile, the lack of devices is not the only issue students are facing. Broadband access is also a problem, especially in low-income communities.

"The fear, of course, is that they're going to fall behind, they started falling behind back in March when we had to go to remote at that time," said Yvonne Stennett, the executive director of Community Health Academy of the Heights, which serves low-income families and enrolls more than 700 students. About 70% have opted for remote learning. Stennett said 30% of those students are having daily internet problems.

"The educational gap is widening, their ability to keep up and maintain the work is definitely at risk," she said. "I don't know how we are going to fix it."

Carranza said the schools are the ones distributing the devices, and that parents need to contact the school. 

FOX 5 NY specifically asked the DOE what is the issue with the request made by the principals of District 22. We received a statement Tuesday evening.

"Bridging the technology gap is critical to the success of remote learning, and we've been working hard to get hundreds of thousands of internet-enabled devices to our students who need them," DOE spokesperson Sarah Casasnovas wrote in an email to FOX 5 NY. "Since March, we've sent over 10,000 devices to District 22, and we're shipping hundreds of additional devices to the district for the fall."