NEW YORK - Without any formal announcement, New York City's Department of Education released updated guidance on remote learning.
"It was pretty quietly snuck in there on a Friday afternoon, which is what communication specialists like to do when they want to bury something and not talk about it — and hope on a holiday weekend no one will remember it by Tuesday," said Jennifer Goddard, a Brooklyn mom of a public school student.
Starting now, students who are sick, in quarantine, or choose to stay home due to safety concerns can participate in remote learning without being marked as absent. This new guidance came as the city reported that about 25% of public school students were not in class on Friday.
"I understand this option as a stopgap measure for students who contract COVID," teacher Arthur Goldstein said. "I do not see this as something we do long-term."
Goldstein teaches ESL at Francis Lewis High School in Queens and also serves on the executive board of the United Federation of Teachers. He believes the new structure is flawed and not well-thought-out.
The DOE said this remote structure will make attending school "simpler for families," but the agency also said it's still working out the exact type of remote instruction it will offer.
The mixed messages aren't sitting well with Goddard, who pulled her 10-year-old son, August, out of in-person schooling in 2020 because he suffers from severe asthma. He's been getting special remote instruction from the DOE for children with medical needs.
"How are parents being informed? Hopefully, this is just a Band-Aid option and there will be a larger, more robust enriching learning experience for children," Goddard said.
Mayor Eric Adams has reiterated that the school building is the safest place for kids, which Goldstein said is definitely not the case at his school.
"In the last two weeks, 17.5% of the students at Francis Lewis High School have gotten COV, so I will take exception to Mayor Adams' remark," Goldstein said.