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Back to School 2021 Updates

Back to School 2021

Stay up-to-date on the most recent NYC schools updates by subscribing to AFC's weekly Blackboard Bulletin. Want to see what you've missed? Catch up on some of our most recent issues below:

Refer to our Start of School Year 2021-22 Fact Sheet for Families of Students with Disabilities (also available in Spanish and Chinesewhich we will continue to update as we learn more.

 Live Back to School 2021 Updates

➞ Remote Learning Options for NYC Families

The DOE has said all public school this year will be in person. If you have concerns about that and don’t want to send your child to school in person, you may have options depending on your child’s needs:

  • Home Instruction: Some children have the right to receive home instruction — 1 or 2 hours a day of instruction depending on the student's grade level — if they have a health issue that keeps them from being able to attend school in person. Because of the pandemic, the DOE is making medically necessary home instruction available to more students than in the past. That instruction can include individual in-person instruction by a certified teacher and small group instruction by certified teachers through digital platforms. The DOE has released a list of medical conditions that will automatically qualify a student for home instruction and families whose children have one of those conditions or need home instruction for other reasons can apply. For more information on how to do so, see the DOE’s Family Homecoming 2021 Health and Safety Guide. The Home Instructor will not be the same teacher your child would have if they were in-person in school. For details, see www.homeinstructionschools.com.

  • Home Schooling: Home schooling is when you withdraw your child from public school and you, or you and a group of other families, teach your children yourselves from home or some place that isn’t the school building. There are state requirements for home schooling and there is no financial assistance for this. Parents must apply to be allowed to home school and explain how they will keep their child on track academically. There are private programs that sell curricula for parents to use at home.

  • Private remote school: Some families will pay for online school. This is something the family must arrange and the family will need to pay their student’s tuition. It is possible to ask for related services to be provided through an Individualized Education Services Plan (IESP), but if you’re asking now, it will take a while to put in place. Those services may be provided through Related Services Authorizations (RSAs) or at schools.

➞ Health & Safety Protocols

  • Vaccinations and testing: All DOE employees (including teachers, staff, school safety agents, and Pre-K staff) are required to be vaccinated. All employees in public schools, including charter schools and pre-k staff who work for community organizations, must receive at least one vaccine dose by the end of September. Bus drivers and attendants must be vaccinated or provide weekly proof of negative COVID tests. There will also be weekly COVID testing for 10% of those students whose families have given consent.

  • Masking and social distancing: Under guidance from the Center for Disease Control and the State’s Education Department, students and staff in school should be 3 feet apart, with a few exceptions. For example, during lunch when students can take their masks off, they will be expected to sit 6 feet apart. Everyone in school should wear a mask. If your child can’t wear a mask for health reasons (i.e. drooling, breathing issues, unable to tolerate it/sensory issues), get a letter from your doctor and provide it to the school now. School buses are supposed to keep windows open if weather permits. There is no social distancing requirement on buses. Masks are required unless your child can’t wear one.

  • Quarantine protocols for students in elementary school: If they have been exposed to an adult in the classroom, the whole class will have to quarantine and will receive full-time live online instruction during that time. 

  • Quarantine protocols for students in middle and high school: Schools will no longer close an entire classroom when there is a positive case. If your child is vaccinated and not showing symptoms, they can stay in school even after an exposure. If your child is not vaccinated, but they have been masked and keeping a distance of 3 feet from other infected students, they will still be allowed in school. Regardless of distance and masks, if the infected person is an adult from the classroom, all unvaccinated students will have to learn from home during a quarantine period. Middle and high school students will have access to remote learning through “Office Hours,” when they can join 1:1 or small groups online, ask questions about their academics, and get more intensive instruction. More information is available in the DOE’s Health and Safety Guide.

➞ Transportation

All families should have been notified about their bus routes the week prior to the begining of school through their NYC Schools Account, where you can log in to check your child’s bus status. Bus companies should also be calling to confirm bus routes. If you need help setting up or accessing a NYC Schools Account, reach out to your child's school.

If your child requires specialized busing, it should have been in place before the start of the school year. That is true whether your child attends a public school, a charter school, or a non-public special education program – as long as their IEP calls for specialized busing to and from school. 

To report any complaints with busing issues, call OPT at (718) 392-8855 or visit schools.nyc.gov/school-life/transportation/contact-information. You can also contact your child's school and ask to speak with the Transportation Coordinator.

If your child’s IEP includes specialized transportation, information about their bus route and confirmation of any medical accommodations and special equipment needs (if any) listed on your child’s IEP should be available through your child’s NYC Schools Account (NYCSA). If you don’t have an NYCSA, reach out to your child’s school or a Family Welcome Center to register for one or visit MyStudent.nyc.

➞ Students Aged 21 or older

Students who turned 21 during the 2021-22 school year can return to their high school this Fall, or enroll in a transfer school or YABC. Learn more on the DOE's website, and email agingout@afcnyc.org with any questions. 

➞ Enrollment

Family Welcome Centers (FWC) are DOE offices that help families with enrollment and admissions issues, including newly arrived immigrants who need to enroll in school. Currently, FWCs are speaking with families Monday through Friday over email, phone or video conference. To make an appointment with FWC staff, call (718) 935-2828. More information about FWCs is available on the DOE's website. Questions can also be emailed directly to your borough's Welcome Center address:

Bronx: bronxfwc@schools.nyc.gov
Brooklyn: brooklynfwc@schools.nyc.gov
Manhattan: manhattanfwc@schools.nyc.gov
Queens: queensfwc@schools.nyc.gov
Staten Island: statenislandfwc@schools.nyc.gov