The Department of Education is still in the dark on school attendance a month into the academic year.
Mayor de Blasio said at his daily briefing Thursday that the city’s complex reopening format has made it difficult to assess how many kids are showing up to their remote and in-person classes.
“We have a very unusual situation,” he said. “The hesitation is to make sure the numbers are accurate in what has been an ever changing situation.”
Kids enrolled in the DOE’s blended learning format alternate between classroom and remote instruction.
As of last Friday, 54 percent of city kids have opted for a fully remote program that does not have them come to school buildings.
“Schools are still adjusting to having three things happening simultaneously and getting attendance right,” de Blasio said, adding that he expected the first set of numbers soon.
Some teachers have reported alarmingly low attendance for both classroom and remote sessions and said they have yet to be given specific guidance as to what qualifies as a present child.
“I get that it’s more complicated than a normal year,” said a Bed-Stuy elementary school teacher. “But we have some kids who are just floating out there. That’s a concern.”
Part of the problem, officials have said, is the lack of reliable devices or internet service for lower-income city students.
Bronx City Councilman Rafael Salamanca said a recent hearing that a vetting of two schools in his district revealed that nearly a third of students in each building still did not have devices.
He later told the Post that many parents have been reduced to picking up worksheet packages each week and having teachers go over the material with their children on the phone.
A Queens high school teacher said that basic truancy is also at play — especially for high schoolers.
“You are going to see a lot lower attendance in the higher grades,” she said. “It’s different for the elementary kids. They don’t need as much supervision in high school and there are more temptations to just blow off the day.”
A report released this week estimated that as many as 3 million public school students across the country may not have had a single meaningful contact with their schools since their closure in March due to the coronavirus.
“The consequences for these students’ education and well-being are not marginal concerns: They are an emergency,” said the study from Bellwether Education Partners.