HARLEM, NY — Twenty-nine percent of public school students in Manhattan's District 5 have opted out of the city's planned school reopening plan and will instead attend classes fully remotely, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Education.
Of the roughly 9,975 students in District 5 — which covers most of Central Harlem and parts of East and West Harlem — 29 percent, or nearly 2,900, have chosen to start the year with distance learning when schools reopen Sept. 10.
The city is allowing families to opt out at any time from its reopening plan, which calls for a mix of in-person and remote learning.
Families in District 5 are opting out at a slightly higher rate than neighboring District 3 on the Upper West Side (28 percent), but at a lower rate than in East Harlem's District 4, where 36 percent have chosen to go remote, and District 6 in Upper Manhattan, where 30 percent have opted out.
Citywide, about one-third of New York's one million students are requesting remote learning, according to the city data, which was released Monday and shows the latest numbers as of Friday. City officials have said they expect the numbers to change as more families opt in or out of remote learning throughout the year.
The data shows that non-white students have been likelier to opt for all-remote learning. White students, who normally make up 16 percent of New York's public school system, comprise just 11 percent of those requesting remote learning. Hispanic students make up 37 percent of those opting to attend remotely, Asian students make up 27 percent and Black students make up 20 percent.
The city will open school buildings next month as long as New York City's rate of positive COVID-19 tests remains under 3 percent.
The city's ambitious plan to reopen has drawn criticism from the city's teachers union, homeless advocates and even Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said this week that sending children back to school was "a risky proposition."
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that schools will be allowed to move classes outdoors, a move that follows weeks of calls by educators and parents who said it could significantly lower the risk of coronavirus infections.