New York City families with public school students enrolled in fully remote learning won’t be able to switch back to in-person classes — but they can now sign up for city-funded childcare programs, officials said.
The “Learning Bridges” childcare sites were originally set up for pre-K to eighth-grade students enrolled in part-time, in-person classes on days they couldn’t attend school — and were not open to kids in remote-only classes.
But as of last week, officials said they would start filling vacant slots in the childcare programs with families in all-remote classes who have expressed interest.
City data suggests those vacancies are widespread. According to city Department of Education data, only 17 of the 450 open Learning Bridges sites are enrolled to capacity.
In a City Council hearing last month, DOE officials said they would offered Learning Bridges slots to 44,000 families, despite projections last summer that enrollment could grow as high as 100,000.
Officials also said participation in Learning Bridges programs dipped as more schools started offering five days a week of in-person classes.
Families enrolled in remote-only learning are not eligible to return to in-person school after city officials set a Nov. 15 deadline to register for in-person classes or stay remote the rest of the year.
A DOE spokeswoman said the decision to open up Learning Bridges to remote-only families allows officials to “address the fluctuating child care needs of priority populations during this crisis.”
City officials didn’t immediately say how many remote-only families have signed up for Learning Bridges, and said the slots would be prioritized for essential workers, homeless families, NYCHA residents and other vulnerable populations.
“Through our Learning Bridges program, we’re proud to provide free childcare for thousands of essential workers and frontline heroes,” said Avery Cohen, a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio. “Now, we’ll be able to bring the same much-needed stability and support to more families across the city.”