Mayor de Blasio blames sudden Education Dept. policy shift on ‘surprising’ lack of in-person enrollment

Michael Elsen-Rooney, New York Daily News
·2 min read

Mayor de Blasio on Friday said he was surprised that so few kids showed up to school buildings after the city predicted higher numbers— despite warnings for months from educators, parents and lawmakers that the city’s system for forecasting in-person enrollment was severely flawed.

Officials predicted at the beginning of the month that many as 500,000 kids would be in school buildings, but announced earlier this week that roughly 280,000 kids have gone to in-person class.

During a morning appearance on WNYC, Mayor de Blasio blamed the discrepancy on “a surprising number of parents sort of on the cusp where they really haven’t declared either” that their kids are fully-remote or participating in in-person classes.

But observers say the city set itself up for exactly this outcome by asking parents to indicate in a citywide survey if they planned to stay all-remote — and categorizing anyone who didn’t fill out the survey as enrolled in in-person classes.

“They tried to shape the outcome of the survey by creating rules to direct the outcome to force a favored result,” said City Council Member Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), a vocal critic of the city’s school reopening plan.

Schools chancellor Richard Carranza conceded Thursday in a virtual meeting with parents that the city’s method for surveying families may have had something to do with the faulty predictions for in-person enrollment.

De Blasio said, as a result, there are kids “who are signed up for blended who are participating more remotely on the days they’re supposed to be in school. We need to clear this up for everyone’s benefit.”

He said that’s why the city decided to renege on its initial promise to give parents several opportunities throughout the year to switch from remote into in-person classes, and instead only offer one shot in November.

“We are saying to parents, ‘look we did not anticipate this, we didn’t see this coming,’” he said. “We want everyone now to declare themselves. If something really profound changes out there with the coronavirus, that could lead to a different opportunity. But right now it’s time for people to make a decision. The schools are safe, it’s been proven over and over again.”

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