As we navigate these uncertain times together as a City, I remain in awe of the commitment and compassion you all bring to your daily lives. Since March, our school system has adapted in ways that were once unimaginable. Now, in our last two months of the school year, we are still learning and growing every day, and we could not do this without you: our families and our students.
As we adjust to this new reality, we know parents all over the City are eager to learn more about how COVID-19 may impact their children’s education and schools in the fall. We are making every effort to prepare and plan for these challenges, including our recently announced plans for remote summer learning to keep students on track academically, and ensuring we have the social and emotional support in place to help students address trauma they may be facing. Nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of our students and school communities, and it continues to be our north star.
As we look to next year, we know another aspect of school in the fall is top of mind for many families and students: admissions for middle and high school. From the beginning, I’ve been clear that we will not let things that are out of students’ control affect this process, and the global pandemic we are all facing is certainly out of students’ control. At the State level, tests have been suspended. At the City level, we have taken steps to ensure equity by freezing attendance as a factor and developing a grading policy that maintains clear expectations and accounts for the hardship students may be experiencing during this crisis. Taken together, these necessary changes will mean we will need to adjust the admissions process for next year, especially for schools that use selective admissions, or “screens” as part of their admissions process.
I want to be clear and make a commitment to you: we have not yet made any decisions on this policy, and will not do so without hearing first from you, our students and families. We will collaborate with DOE students and families in developing a policy that meets this moment. And when a policy is decided upon, I can promise you that we will ensure it is fair, transparent, and sensitive to the many ways in which our City’s children are experiencing this pandemic.
To help us in this task, I am hopeful you will contribute your voice and your ideas. Enclosed with this letter, we are announcing new engagements that will allow us to hear from parents like you, students, school leaders, and advocates from across the City on the topic of admissions. We will hold meetings in every borough to hear your perspectives and ideas on how you think students should be admitted to schools for fall 2021. We want to hear from you!
We welcome all members of our school communities to participate, and we look forward to hearing from you. I am so inspired by each of you every single day, and I am confident that even in the midst of this pandemic, we will learn so much from you and the rich experiences and perspectives that you will bring to these conversations. I look forward to continuing our work together for all 1.1 million public school children.
Richard A. Carranza