New York City’s effort to make part-time schooling sound good by calling it “blended learning” doesn’t seem to be fooling parents. Schools chief Richard Carranza and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio rolled out a spectacularly dumb plan to have kids go to school two days a week one week, then three days the next. How are parents who have to return to their jobs, or even hope to work from home without constant interruption, supposed to manage this? The ones who can afford it will hire nannies, but the ones who can’t quite afford that will send their kids to daycare, meaning kids will be exposed to more kids than necessary. The other two or three days a week will be “online learning,” but many parents have complained that e-instruction is no instruction at all; kids are in many cases being given assignments, then left to their own devices, with no real-time person-to-person teaching whatsoever.
And what is the supposed benefit here? Carranza says classrooms will be held down to nine to twelve kids per room and will therefore be socially distanced. This is going to make a difference? We know that droplets can spread across a room, maybe even through HVAC systems. As Karol Markowicz points out in her column, “Teachers will still be exposed to 100 percent of kids as well as each other under blended learning. There is absolutely no ‘science’ where this makes sense. There is no medical difference between sending kids to school three days per week or five.” Connecticut has already announced that its schools will be up and running full time in the fall.
As is his wont, Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately held a press conference to say the final decision is his, not de Blasio’s. We’ll see whether Cuomo’s impulse to stomp all over anything de Blasio does works to New York City’s benefit this time.