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Live Updates on COVID-19

Jump to: FAQ | Resources for families

As we continue to monitor the evolving public health situation regarding COVID-19, we will update this page with more information for families about NYC public schools.

A note about AFC's services: In response to the public health emergency resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) will be working remotely as of March 16, 2020, out of concern for the safety and well-being of our staff, our clients, and our fellow New Yorkers.

Although our offices will be closed, we will continue to advocate on behalf of New York City students. You may continue to contact all AFC staff via e-mail or telephone, and AFC will remain open virtually and attentive to public inquiries related to our programs and services.


IEP meetings, Turning 5 meetings & Evaluations (updated March 24)

IEP meetings for all students with disabilities: IEP meetings will be conducted by phone. The school should send you copies of any documents that will be discussed before the meeting.

Turning 5 meetings for students with disabilities entering kindergarten next year: You should contact your child’s school or your Turning 5 contact if you want to participate in an IEP meeting by phone. All social history interviews can also be done by phone if you would like to do that.  

Families who wish to refer their child for special education evaluations may continue to do so by emailing the principal, emailing specialeducation@schools.nyc.gov, or by calling 311. Assessments may be conducted remotely. For more information on referrals and evaluations, see our Guide to Special Education.  If you have any questions, call AFC's Educational Helpline: (866) 427-6033 for support.

 High School & Middle School placements (updated April 6)

Placement offers for high school and middle school are now available. A printed copy will be mailed to you, and you can also view your child's offer online at MySchools. There, you'll be able to find your middle school offer or high school offer(s), and see if your child has been waitlisted for any programs. 

Students are autmatically on the waitlist for any program listed higher on their application than the program where they got an offer. For example, if your child got an offer for their third choice program, they are on the waitlist at their first- and second-choice programs. Through MySchools, you can view your position on any waitlists, as well as add your child to additional waitlists or remove your child from any waitlists you'd no longer like to be on.  Learn more about waitlists on the DOE's website.

 Remote learning (updated April 6)

Watch a video on this topic in English | Mire un video sobre este tema en español

The DOE's Remote Learning Model for all NYC students began March 23.  Families who have trouble connecting to remote learning should contact their individual schools via email for help and troubleshooting. Schools will be able to monitor student use of the remote platform, and should be able to contact families that have not consistently logged on. Device support and other resources for assistive technology are available on the DOE's website.

 Spring Break

The DOE will continue remote learning throughout the time originally scheduled for Spring Recess, Thursday, April 9 through Friday, April 17.  Any students or school staff who plan to observe religious holidays on April 9 and 10 will be able to do so, although remote learning activities will continue during those days for students who are not observing the holidays.  Read the DOE's full announcement.

Tech support for remote learning

The DOE has compiled tech support for getting started with a DOE-issued iPad, and getting started with Google Classroom. For additional tech support, call the DOE's Service Desk at (718) 935-5100.

Every DOE student now has an account for remote learning. If you need help with your student's username or password, the DOE has step-by-step instructions.

The DOE has created a technical support guide for Google Classroom.  A step-by-step Parent's Guide to Google Classroom, developed by teachers, is also available online in multiple languages: EnglishSpanishChineseKoreanBengaliRussian, and Arabic.

Device needs for remote learning

All DOE schools will be lending their stock of devices (laptops and iPads) to their students, for remote learning needs. An additional 300,000 iPads have been donated by Apple. As they are available, these devices will be delivered by the DOE to: students in DHS Shelters; students in temporary housing; students with IEPs; and English Language Learners, in that order.

To request one of these Remote Learning Devices, submit a request online or by phone at (718) 935-5100 (press 5).  The same survey will also be available as a flyer at all Grab & Go meal pickup sites (for more information about meals, see below). Priority for devices will be given to students most in need, and all devices are granted on a temporary basis and will later need to be returned. There is a limit of one device per student. Note: The DOE is only providing donated iPads to district school students. Charter and non-public schools are not currently eligible for the devices.

 Delivery of remote learning devices

For those who request a remote learning device from the DOE, iPads will be distributed according to the below schedule, as they are available:

    • The week of March 23: the first shipment of iPads will make their way to students across New York City, prioritizing students living in shelters. iPads are being delivered in bulk to shelters, and a shelter employee will distribute them to individual students.
    • The week of March 30: the DOE will continue to prepare, pack and deliver the iPads that arrive from Apple to students in temporary housing, emergency shelters, youth shelters, and foster care, as well as high school students.
    • The week of April 6: The DOE will focus on delivery to high school students, focusing on multilingual learner students, students with disabilities, and students who live in public housing. iPads will be distributed on a rolling basis with new shipments arriving and being staged each week.

More information about device delivery is available on the DOE's website. Students who have requested an iPad but are not in the above groups will be eligible to receive iPads after deliveries have been made to the above groups.

Remote learning for students with disabilities

Resources and support for remote learning for special education students is available on the DOE's website. School administrators and individual providers should have contacted families to develop ways for students — including students with IEPs — to get live instruction, including whole classroom, one-to-one instruction, alternate assessment and differentiated content.The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education released a fact sheet on March 17 on addressing the risk of COVID-19 in schools while protecting the civil rights of students.  The fact sheet included guidance for education leaders around ensuring web accessibility for students with disabilities while schools transition to online learning. The same information and guidance is also available in a webinar released by OCR.

Tech support for assistive technology

Visit the DOE's website for additional tech support and user guides for AT and other remote learning devies. More information about AT, and who to contact for support and assistance, is available in our Guide to Assistive Technology. See below for additional resources and support for families who currently use or will soon require assistive technologies.

For students who have IEPs that include Assistive Technology (AT) or Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), schools should have already provided that necessary AT and AAC for students to use at home during remote learning. The DOE is working to develop a tele-therapy readiness checklist for providers, and will be working with schools to send those home to families.

Wi-Fi access for remote learning

Charter cable and other providers will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a subscription, and installation fees will be waived for new student households (see below for a full list of service providers and contact information). Any students who receive loaned DOE devices for remote learning will have a device that is WiFi-enabled.  The DOE says they will continue to work with providers to find solutions for areas where these services are not yet provided and for other issues regarding Wi-Fi. 

Students who request and receive an iPad will be given a device that comes pre-loaded with a data plan, and will not requite Wi-Fi.

 Free Meals (updated April 6)

Watch a video on this topic in English | Mire un video sobre este tema en español

The City is providing free meals for all New Yorkers at 400 meal hubs around the city.  Families can find a location near them online at schools.nyc.gov/freemeals. These sites will be open from 7:30am – 1:30pm, and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner (one vegetarian and one non-vegetarian option). All three meals can be picked up one time; no ID is required.

To find a meal site near you, text 'MEALS' or 'COMIDA' to 877-877.

If you need emergency food assistance, call the Emergency Food Hotline at 866-888-8777 or 311 to find a local pantry or kitchen. There is no income limit for emergency food. Learn more about Emergency food.

 Students with Disabilities and Special Education (updated April 6)

The Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has set up a section of their website that is specifically focused on guidance and announcements related to COVID-19/coronavirus.

 Related services

Related services will be provided via teletherapy, or video-conferencing where clinically appropriate. Providers and schools will contact families to discuss the service plan for each student. Providers will also give families information about activities that can be done at home to reinforce the related services work.

As of March 23, independent in-person Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) is no longer authorized, but students should receive SETSS remotely to the extent feasible. For contract services, the DOE also expects providers to provide remote services for which they will be paid. Families who have questions about their child's related services can contact the DOE's Special Education Office at specialeducation@schools.nyc.gov.

Preschool Special Education Services

While schools are closed, preschoolers with IEPs can receive their Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) and related services online through teletherapy.  Service providers should be calling families to set a schedule for services. 

Children enrolled in 3-K, Pre-K, and preschool special education programs should receive remote learning such as video instruction, suggestions for activities children can do at home, and communication from the program, in addition to the SEIT and related services on their IEPs. 

Families that are having trouble getting services in place or whose children have significant needs and may be put at risk if they go without in-person services for a long period of time should contact their services providers, e-mail the DOE at specialeducation@schools.nyc.gov (and feel free to copy AFC at preschool@afcnyc.org), or call AFC’s Helpline at (866) 427-6033.

Early Intervention (EI) Services

Children can receive their Early Intervention (EI) services through teletherapy (online). To request these services, families should contact their EI Service Coordinator or call 311. Children who usually get EI center-based services can get services through teletherapy at home. Families having trouble getting EI services in place can call AFC’s Helpline at (866) 427-6033. 

Families concerned about the development of their 0-2-year-old child can still refer their child for EI evaluations by calling 311. Assessments and evaluations are taking place through teletherapy, and Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) meetings are taking place over the phone. For more information on referrals, evaluations, and IFSPs, see our Guide to Early Intervention.  If you have any questions, call AFC's Educational Helpline: (866) 427-6033 for support. 

Supports for English Language Learners (updated March 24)

The DOE has posted instructional resources in English for students grades Pre-K through 12 online, and translations in at least 9 languages will be available shortly. Translated resources will include webinars for teachers, parents, and caregivers. The Division of Multilingual Learners is developing separate guidance on supporting Multilingual Learners in any language, to maintain continuity of learning, including how co-teaching can work remotely.

Every school will create a remote learning plan to ensure that English language learners and former English language learners receive targeted instruction in English with the appropriate amount of supports in their home language. Your school will continue to consider your student’s specific strengths and needs, such as their current level of proficiency in English and the academic areas where they need the most support. These services will be provided by and in collaboration with an appropriately certified teacher.

Students who receive loaned devices from the DOE can change the default language and settings to a preferred language. The DOE recommends that students use Google Translate to translate any online content into their preferred language.

Regional Enrichment Centers (updated March 27)

Watch a video on this topic in English | Mire un video sobre este tema en español

The DOE has opened Regional Enrichment Centers to serve children of first responders, healthcare workers, and transit workers, and other essential personnel, including grocery workers, pharmacy workers, and food workers. The centers will offer remote instruction and 3 hot meals a day for children in grades 3K-12. As space permits, further outreach will aim to include other essential service providers and children in shelter. You may apply online for enrollment in a Regional Enrichment Center.

RECs will follow all social distancing protocols, and will limit classrooms to less than 12 students. Sites will be regularly cleaned and disinfected, and will be staffed by DOE staff, and Community-Based Organizations.

More information is available in the memorandum released by the DOE on March 17, and in FAQ by Chalkbeat NY.

Update 3/27: The DOE is closing 23 centers, due to low enrollment. Read more.

 Free Online Tutoring for Students (updated April 6)

Students can receive one-on-one free online homework help from one-on-one tutors through the New York Public Library, daily from 2–11 PM.  Tutors are available in English and Spanish, from early elementary through high school grades, in core subject areas. Video content and other resources are also available 24 hours a day.

Testing and state assessments (updated March 16)

The March 14 and May 2, 2020 administrations of the SAT have both been cancelled. Any students who were registered will receive a refund, and the College Board plans to provide future testing opportunities as soon as is feasible. More information is available on the College Board's website.   

State Exams (updated March 30)

The 2020 elementary- and intermediate-level State assessments have been suspended:

  • New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts Test;
  • New York State Grades 3-8 Mathematics Test;
  • New York State Grade 4 Elementary-Level Science Test;
  • New York State Grade 8 Intermediate-Level Science Test;
  • New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) in Grades K-12; and
  • New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) for students with severe cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8 and high school.

Attendance (updated March 13)

The NYC Department of Education (DOE) has shared on their website that latenesses and absences during the 2019-2020 school year won’t impact applications for middle school and high school for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Some schools have informed parents that any COVID-19 related absence, including absences where students were kept out to limit exposure, will be excused absences. If you kept your child home due to COVID-19, tell the attendance coordinator at your child’s school.

Enrollment (updated March 23)

For any newly arrived immigrants who need to enroll in school, Family Welcome Center (FWC) staff are available remotely to assist with enrollment, placement, and questions about admissions, offers, and waitlists. Questions can be emailed 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

Contacting schools (updated March 23)

The best way to contact a school is by email; currently, most school phone numbers are still going directly to the school buildings and will not reach school employees. Schools are working to have calls forwarded to principals and staff in the near future. Contact emails for principals, parent coordinators, and teachers will be available shortly on public-facing websites.

School Closures (updated March 16)

Beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, NYC Public Schools will close and transition towards a new Remote Learning Model until Spring Recess. Students will not report to school buildings for instruction during this time. School buildings are scheduled to reopen to students following Spring Recess on Monday, April 20, 2020. More information, including details about the schedule for the transition to remote learning, is available at schools.nyc.gov/coronavirus.

  • Monday, March 16: Citywide closure. Students, teachers, and principals do not report.
  • Monday, March 16-Friday, March 20: City school buildings will remain open for children to pick up food.  After this week, the City will find alternative sites for students who need food to receive it. (via NYTimes)
  • Thursday, March 19-Friday, March 20: Students who need it will be able to begin process of picking up the technology necessary for remote learning. The DOE will be providing more guidance to families this week. 
  • Monday, March 23: Remote learning launches.

Staying up to date

We urge you to watch the DOE’s website for developing information and changes. Updates are being posted to their home page. 

You could also look at the Federal guidance released on March 12 about providing services to children with disabilities during the current outbreak of the corona virus. That guidance has information about the school district’s legal responsibilities to students with IEPs in times of school closings.  

A few key points from that guidance: 

  • As long as the City’s schools remain open, they must make sure that students with disabilities have the same access to school as their general education peers even if that means access through a distance learning plan;
  • Students with disabilities who are absent because of the virus must continue to receive special education and related services if their absence lasts longer than 10 days;
  • If schools don’t provide the services on a child's IEP for an extended time, the schools and families should talk about what compensatory services may be needed to address skills lost during that period.  

Resources for Families