Principal Coronavirus Updates

March 18, 2020

Thank you again for your leadership and hard work during these challenging days. As you and your staff continue to develop plans for launching remote learning, I have a few additional updates and clarifications to support your work.

Guidance and Expectations for Remote Learning in Response to COVID-19

Remote teaching is a new way to engage with students and colleagues. Such a moment requires a willingness to take chances and learn. Our shared goal in this moment where the landscape is constantly shifting, is to ensure continuity of learning, student engagement and the prevention of learning loss. We recognize that schools, staff, students and families will have different starting points.

To that end, please review the attached Guidance and Expectations for Remote Learning in Response to COVID-19 document, which can also be found on the InfoHub Coronavirus Communications page. This document provides guidance to help clarify roles as we prepare for what could be a longer term circumstance. 

Parent Teacher Conferences

As an update to my email last night, virtual Parent Teacher Conferences for high schools, K-12 and 6-12 schools originally scheduled to take place this week will be rescheduled. Please share with your teachers. 

Guidance on Distribution of Resources through the End of the Week

In order to insure that all students have access to what they need to be successful at home, we are asking that all schools allow students and families opportunities to pick up needed materials from schools on Thursday, March 19th and Friday, March 20th as available.  Every school must contact families and students and provide a window between now and Friday, for them to pick-up materials if they have not already done so.  Please keep in mind that all outdoor and indoor events with 50 or more people are now banned. For gatherings with 49 people or fewer, we advise facilities to remain at less than 50% capacity in order to better encourage social distancing. Individuals should stay 6 feet apart from one another.

These materials can include textbooks, workbooks, and print materials the school has prepared.  As per the Chancellor’s guidance, we are strongly encouraging schools to lend school-based technology to students who need it to be successful in remote learning.  As per previous guidance, families have already been made aware that students and families can pick up medication or receive any standard medical services from through Thursday, during regular school hours; school nurses and school based health center staff will be on site.

Grab and Go Meals

NYCDOE has set up citywide sites for the distribution of grab and go meals for any student in need. Distribution must be inside of the building and in the most convenient and logical area in the lobby that does not allow students to walk through the building. OFNS staff should not be asked to serve outside of the building.

Thank you for all of your hard work as we continue on this journey together. Again, if you have general questions or concerns about remote learning guidance, please reach out to your Superintendent or for more information. And don’t forget to bookmark this page for ongoing updates.

In unity,


Guidance and Expectations for Remote Learning in Response to COVID-19

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Keeping our students and families safe, healthy, and informed as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) evolves in New York City is our priority. An important part of this support is attending to one another’s emotional wellness. We recognize that moving to remote learning will have a significant impact on our students, families and community stakeholders. We want to acknowledge the very real feelings surrounding this, support one another by checking in and, to the greatest degree possible, create community in our remote learning spaces. Remote learning provides an opportunity for students and educators to remain connected and engaged with instruction while working from locations outside of the physical school environment for a designated period of time due to an unforeseen situation. This example of remote learning is necessary in response to the emergency situation posed by COVID-19

Transitioning to remote learning can keep students on track so that when they return to physical school environments, they will be ready for the next phase in their learning. Remote learning should adhere to as many state and local requirements as possible.

Remote teaching is a new way to engage with students and colleagues.  Such a moment requires a willingness to take chances and learn.  Our shared goal in this moment where the landscape is constantly shifting, is to ensure continuity of learning, student engagement and the prevention of learning loss. We recognize that schools, staff, students and families will have different starting points.  To that end, this document provides guidance to help clarify roles as we prepare for what could be a longer term circumstance.  

Below is a suggested list of roles and responsibilities. 


The principal is responsible for setting the overall expectations for the school’s implementation of remote learning and ensuring that these expectations are clearly communicated to teachers, students, families, and other involved school staff. This guidance is meant to support principals in setting these expectations. The principal may delegate the below responsibilities to assistant principals and other staff as needed. These responsibilities may include:

  • Designate roles and responsibilities for administrative school staff with respect to remote learning, so that the following decisions and tasks are implemented effectively. This includes designating an administrator or teacher to be the remote learning lead, or primary point person for the implementation of the school’s remote learning plans.
  • Implement structures and protocols for checking in with the teachers and staff responsible for executing remote learning.
  • Establish a mechanism for tracking student engagement and interaction, which also accounts for student attendance.
  • Ensure that updates and expectations about the school’s remote learning program are communicated to students and families. This includes tips for student success, directions for accessing any online platforms, escalation pathways for administrative support, and assurances about student privacy.
  • Using NYC DOE academic policy guidance, develop expertise and answer questions related to the impact of COVID-19 on key academic policy areas such as promotion, grading, and graduation. Share questions with the Borough/Citywide Office as needed for escalation and resolution.
  • Set expectations for teacher grade-keeping, data entry, and tracking student participation.
  • For high school students, ensure that the school’s remote learning program prioritizes the courses and exam preparation that students need to stay on track toward graduation.


During this time, teachers will use an online platform and email to provide assignments to their students, consistent with the subject content standards of their respective classes. Teachers are expected to fulfill their responsibilities within the contractual workday.  These responsibilities could, upon direction from the principal, include:

Student Instruction

  • Communicate expectations to students and families about the instructional plan for the week, including learning objectives, required activities, assignments, links to resources, and assessments, along with any associated due dates.
  • During the designated time, to the extent possible, interact with students in real-time to deliver lessons, facilitate discussion, and lead other instructional activities.
  • Archive lessons and other instructional activities for students to access later.
  • Utilize agreed-upon communication plan determined by the school daily (Monday thru Friday during the contractual workday) to interact with groups of students and families, account for attendance, and respond to messages from students and families in a timely fashion.
  • For any student that is not engaging, follow up with the school protocol to engage the Student Support Team.
  • Monitor student participation in activities, grade assignments and assessments, and provide timely feedback on work submitted by students. Communicate with families about student progress.
  • For students who need additional support or enrichment, identify appropriate activities and assignments to the greatest extent possible.
  • Conduct all annual reviews timely for students with disabilities, to the greatest extent possible.
  • Ensure that MLLs/ELLs receive language support as they learn new content through remote learning. Please refer to Supporting Multilingual Learners/English Language Learners (MLLs/ELLs) with Remote Learning in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic for guidance.

Collaboration and Coordination

  • Co-teaching pairs should plan appropriately to support their students’ needs.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with your colleagues who also serve your students (paraprofessionals, co-teachers, related service providers, counselors, the SBST team, etc.).Participate in professional learning opportunities remotely during the contractual work day.
  • Participate in IEP meetings (initial/reevaluation/three-year evaluations) remotely at the request of the school psychologist.
  • Monitor DOE email for guidance from supervisors and Central DOE. Forward messages to guidance counselors, administrators, and other school staff (e.g., parent coordinator) as needed, per the expectations of the principal.
  • Implement the school communication plan, which could include participating in virtual meetings with school administrators; respond to inquiries from school administrators in a timely fashion (Monday thru Friday during the contractual workday).


Paraprofessionals are expected to continue to support teachers in the delivery of instruction.  Key expectations are as follows:

  • Participate in scheduled school-based professional development regarding online learning.
  • Support classroom teachers with preparing assignments, content, and activities.
  • Assist with collecting materials that will be sent to students.
  • Maintain regular communication with teachers and related service provider(s).
  • Communicate and check-in with students as determined by classroom teacher and school leadership.
  • Under the direction of the teacher or related service provider, support families and students in accessing and participating in remote learning and therapy experiences, including supporting families in implementing behavior supports and structures, as needed.


Working in a new environment creates uncertainty and brings heightened stress. School Counselors will work with students and families by providing support around developing self-confidence in their ability to succeed, helping them demonstrate effective coping skills when faced with a problem, helping them with the ability to manage transition and adaptation to changing situations and responsibilities, and, by helping them demonstrate social maturity and behaviors appropriate to the situation and environment. Responsibilities are as follows:

  • Work with administrators and staff to develop a plan for how staff, students and families can reach them through phone, email or online platforms.
  • Contact families and students as needed.
  • Work with administrators and staff to develop appropriate protocols for students and families to follow in emergency situations.
  • Continue to support students and families by providing the necessary academic, college and career counseling and advisement.
  • Collaborate with administration and staff to determine the remote learning options available to provide consultation, as well as counseling support services based on grade level bands. School counselors also determine supports for families, teachers, administrators and other school staff.
  • Continue to monitor the social/personal development of their students and their students’ active participation in remote learning.
  • Related Service Counselors follow the Related Service Provider Responsibilities below.


Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT), Speech and Counseling providers will provide appropriate tele-therapy services in conjunction with schools’ remote instructional plan. Key expectations are as follows:

  • Participate in scheduled school-based professional development regarding the online learning tool utilized by the school.
  • Immediately review all mandates in their caseload to determine how best to deliver appropriate tele-therapy services to students starting on March 23 and for the duration of the school building closure period. The Special Education Office has developed general guidance to DOE providers on how to make this determination. 
  • In some cases, the opportunity for appropriate tele-therapy will be limited. At minimum, therapists will provide a weekly tele-therapy consultation with the student and their caregiver (where available) to provide support and advice regarding appropriate therapeutic activities.
  • While reviewing students’ mandates, make initial contact with each student’s caregiver, using a script provided by the Special Education Office, and obtain written consent for tele-therapy using a standard form which will be provided by the Special Education Office in consultation with the Office of Medicaid Operations. Therapists must upload the completed consent form to the student’s record in SESIS.
  • Collaborate with others in the school to develop a schedule for tele-therapy, using the current schedule as a starting point. Regardless of whether a student has been prescribed tele-therapy sessions, ensure that there is at least one touch point per week for each student in their caseload.
  • Share the schedule with the student’s family, school leadership, and their supervisor and initiate service in accordance with the schedule. Discipline supervisors will check in with therapists periodically, and may participate in and observe tele-therapy sessions.
  • Document all tele-therapy sessions in SESIS; guidance will be provided later this week regarding how to code the location of these sessions.


School Based Support Team (SBST) Psychologists are expected to conduct IEP meetings remotely with necessary documentation (Notice of IEP Meeting, evaluations) provided to families electronically. Key expectations are as follows:

  • Review the status of the Turning 5 caseload; complete all outstanding reports and IEPs that are pending finalization; schedule all cases ready for an IEP meeting for remote/teleconference meetings.
  • Review open initial referral and reevaluation caseload; complete all outstanding reports and IEPs that are pending finalization; obtain outstanding reports from any external stakeholders via email communication; identify cases for which parents have provided or will provide evaluations; complete all IEPs that have been conferenced and are pending finalization.
  • Provide materials/assessments to be considered to all participants electronically ahead of the meeting.
  • Ensure participation of all IEP team members, per SOPM guidance. School Psychologists should work with their school administrator if they need access to contact information of required participants.
  • For all referrals, review the reason for referral to determine what level/type of assessment is needed and consider remote assessment and non-face to face assessments (as per USDOE guidelines) through contract agencies if and when necessary.
  • Develop a plan to engage in remote intervention and prevention initiatives for students at risk of referral to special education (counseling, consultation and intervention).
  • Monitor email or other agreed-upon communication channels daily (Monday thru Friday during agreed upon work hours) for messages from families, supervisors, and school leadership, and respond to messages in a timely fashion.


School Based Support Team (SBST) Social Workers are expected to support the successful implementation of remote IEP meetings.  Key expectations are as follows:

  • Introduce parents to the method for moving forward with cases during the DOE school closure and support parents with the use of technological/online services.
  • Schedule and conduct Social Histories and participate in outreach for scheduling IEP meetings.
  • Conduct adaptive scales/rating scales and parent and teacher interviews over the phone and using Microsoft teams.
  • Review the Home Language Identification Survey (HLIS) to verify the language spoken at home; confirm parents’ preferred language and mode of communication; inform parents in their preferred language of the parent’s right to have a trained interpreter at meetings, if necessary, and of the right to request evaluation reports and the student’s IEP translated into the preferred language.
  • Confirm that parents have received a copy of the Procedural Safeguards Notice and inform parents of their due process rights.
  • Ensure that parents have access to the Family Guide to Special Education Services for School-Age Children in their preferred language.
  • Develop a plan to engage in remote intervention/prevention initiatives for students at risk of referral to special education (counseling, consultation and intervention).
  • Serve as a point of contact for administrative and logistical questions from families, monitoring email and other designated communication channels Monday through Friday during agreed upon work hours. Support families with outreach to community-based organizations that can support them.


In communicating expectations, staff members must recognize the stress of the current situation and the needs of the students and families they serve, as they consider including the following points:

  • Students should complete instructional activities assigned by teachers within the expected timelines.
  • Students should participate in check-ins, discussions, and other communication mechanisms as expected by the teacher.
  • Students should review teacher feedback and complete any follow-up activities as assigned by the teacher.
  • Students and families should proactively notify their teacher or a school administrator school with any concerns about progress or additional support needed.
  • Families should support students in being successful by establishing routines and habits that support their success in remote learning.
  • Families should ensure that students are adhering to their school’s contract for appropriate behavior on web enabled devices.  

Past Updates

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear Principal,

Thank you for your leadership and hard work during these challenging days. As you and your staff continue to develop plans for launching remote learning on Monday, March 23, I am writing to share some additional guidance to support your work.

Equipment Distribution

Please continue to distribute your school-based technology to your school community. This user agreement must be signed when distributing devices. Please keep one copy and provide a copy for families. In addition to distributing existing DOE devices, in order to help all students adjust to remote learning environments, Apple and T-Mobile will ensure that in the coming weeks, up to 300,000 New York City public school students who don’t currently have an internet-connected device will have one for their schoolwork while we are conducting remote learning. This will begin with the delivery of 25,000 iPads next week. We anticipate approximately 50,000 devices will then be delivered for each week after that.

To inform distribution of these devices, we are asking families to complete a survey sharing their best contact information over the next few weeks as well as whether they have access to a smartphone, a laptop/tablet/computer, the internet, or none of the above. We will use the information to prioritize device distribution and inform families of pickup location.

Please share this survey with your families, particularly those who do not have access to an internet-connected device, and ask them to complete by Friday, March 20th. This information will be essential to support distribution of the devices. We will also be distributing a flyer for you to print and distribute at your school’s grab and go meal site. Schools can also work with families to fill out the form online. Please read this document for more information, including directions on distribution.

Remote Learning Practices Survey

Thank you for filling out the Digital Practices Survey last week. Starting as soon as possible, we want to provide families with information on what remote learning tool each school is using. Your responses to the Remote Learning Platform Survey will be used to populate each school’s DOE webpage with the primary platform you are using and a link to those platforms. We are also asking for additional information on remote learning to better understand how we can support you. This survey can be filled out by you as the principal, or can be forwarded to a member of your staff with a better understanding of your school’s current use of these platforms. Only one survey should be filled out per school by Thursday, March 19th.

Supporting Multilingual Learners/English Language Learners (MLLs/ELLs) and Students with IEPs with Remote Learning

For MLLs/ELL, complete this addendum to your school’s Language Allocation Policy (LAP) to create a Remote Learning plan to ensure all services for MLLs/ELLs are documented during this time. School principals should refer to their LAPs and take into account the appropriate teachers and/or teacher pairs who serve ELLs and former ELLs when completing this addendum. Additional guidance on supporting MLLs/ELLs across various instructional models with Remote Learning is forthcoming.

For students with IEPs, use this form to create plans for remote learning. School principals should determine the appropriate teachers and/or teacher pairs who should complete this plan and send to families in order to ensure all services for students with IEPs are ready to begin remotely on March 23rd.  

For support, please contact your B/CO Director of MLLs/ELLs and/or Director of Special Education.

Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent Teacher Conferences for high schools, K-12 and 6-12 schools scheduled for Thursday evening (March 19) and Friday afternoon (March 20) will still take place by phone or virtually. For guidance and resources, see the PTC Guidance on the InfoHub Coronavirus Communications page. All teachers have access to Microsoft Teams audio conferencing which comes with a dial-in number and unique ID. Please share with your teachers. 

Supporting Our Youngest Learners with Remote Learning

Young children learn best in the context of relationships, through play-based, hands-on, and engaging activities. The Division of Early Childhood Education has created the following resources to support planning for 3-K and Pre-K for All remote learning:

  • Guidance for Remote Learning in 3-K and Pre-K contains suggestions for how your 3-K and pre-K teachers can support remote learning for our youngest students while school buildings are closed. The document also contains guidance that teachers can share directly with families. We will post additional resources and updated content under the Remote Instruction section throughout the coming weeks.
  • This Learn at Home activity packet contains suggested activities and guidance for families and caregivers. Translated versions of this packet will be available here later today.
  • We encourage you to reach out to your points of contact at the Division of Early Childhood Education for any additional guidance or support as you develop plans for your children and families.

Download & Log in to Student Accounts, Password Resets, Google Parachute, YouTube

Following up on today's webinar and from early submissions to the mailbox, here are some resources for schools:

  • School Download information for DOE student accounts - School Download Directions 
  • Students can learn how to find their DOE accounts and log in - Student Accounts (DOE Website)
  • Students can reset their DOE account password - Student DOE Account Password Reset Page (DOE Website)
  • Schools with pre-existing G-suite domains can continue to use their Google accounts with staff and students but must enroll their domain in Google Parachute - Google Parachute Link. Students will need their DOE account to log into Microsoft Office 365 and other educational sites/apps
  • To meet the PD needs of schools, DIIT has unblocked YouTube at all schools for this week.
  • Any teacher or staff member who wants to have a phone conference with a student's family can use Microsoft Teams audio conference feature to set an appointment and provide a phone number / conference ID.

Please continue to check InfoHub for updates to Frequently Asked Questions. In light of recent developments and to allow you time to focus on the tasks at hand, Principals Weekly is not being published this week. We are re-visiting the scheduling and distribution of principal-facing communications and will update you on those developments in the coming days.

If you have general questions or concerns about remote learning guidance, please reach out to your Superintendent or for more information.

Thank you for your patience as we embark on this unprecedented new journey as a system.

In unity,


Monday, March 16, 2020
Dear Principal,

Thank you for your continued professionalism and dedication to our students and families during this unprecedented time. Now is the moment for us to innovate to serve all students in ways we perhaps could not have ever imagined. As previously shared, we will be implementing remote learning in all schools to ensure students continue to receive instruction while school buildings remain closed.

It is up to all of us to ensure students understand that school is in session--remotely. Remote learning provides an opportunity for students and teachers to remain connected and engaged with their course content while working from locations outside the physical school environment. Transitioning to remote learning can keep students on track so that they return to physical school environments having continued learning aligned to standards. While many of our schools already have substantial remote learning capacity, some schools have less experience with online platforms. To support these schools, we have partnered with Google so that all schools that do not currently use an equivalent online learning platform can use Google Classroom. There will be a recorded webinar for you to access tomorrow after 10 AM to provide you with further guidance regarding implementation of remote learning.  

Ahead of tomorrow’s webinar, below is some additional guidance to support you and your staff for this week: 

  • Make the health and safety of staff members your highest priority.  Design your professional learning opportunities to ensure social distancing practices, including 6 feet of distance between people. Avoid gatherings of 50 people of more. Anyone who is sick should stay home from work.
  • Reassess your school’s capacity to implement remote learning:
    • All schools may also use these suggested activities as needed.  
    • Schools that are already using an online platform that supports remote learning--and have a plan that supports your faculty with remote learning readiness for Tuesday, March 17, through Thursday, March 19--should move forward with their plans. 
    • Schools that do not utilize an online platform that fully supports remote learning can use Google Classroom or an equivalent remote learning platform. If you already have one in place, and it is working well for staff and students, there is no need to change it. You should use the platform your teachers and students are most familiar with.  
    • Google Classroom is the default option for schools that do not already have their own remote learning system in place.
  • All DOE employees are expected to activate and use their DOE email accounts. All Central communication will be shared with staff via DOE email accounts. Please have teachers and staff visit this site to learn how to access their DOE email. Please encourage staff to check their emails regularly.
  • Teachers and school staff should spend time Tuesday morning (March 17) confirming contact information (phone numbers and email addresses) for all students and families.
  • Tomorrow the school day will begin at the regular start time. A sufficient amount of time should be spent to confirm student and family contact information, activate accounts, and ensure familiarity with online platforms. However, in order to minimize time spent together in groups, staff should not be kept in the building longer than is absolutely necessary.

We are working diligently to address all open questions prior to the launch of remote learning for students on Monday, March 23. Below is a list of additional guidance/resources you will receive during the course of this week:

  • Guidance from the Office of Labor Relations regarding how to supervise staff remotely
  • Guidance regarding the distribution, inventory, and maintenance of computers and other electronic equipment
  • A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document

If you need support developing instructional activities, please reach out to instructional leads at your BCOs. Superintendents’ teams are available to escalate questions and concerns, or you may email questions to

As a reminder, if you feel sick:

  • Please stay home if you feel sick and call your doctor if you have symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, fever, or sore throat.   
  • If you do not feel better in 24-48 hours, contact your doctor. 
  • Do not go to school or to work until you have been fever-free for at least 72 hours without the use of fever reducers like Tylenol or ibuprofen. 
  • If you need help getting medical care, call 311.  

In these uncertain times, we cannot thank you enough for all that you do to ensure your communities continue to thrive. We will communicate with you on an ongoing basis to share additional supports and guidance to ensure as few interruptions to teaching and learning as possible given the current context.

As I have said--we have the best staff and students in the world. Nothing will ever change that. This may be our finest hour as we rise to the challenge of educating students in an entirely new way. Along with my entire team, I am here to support, guide, and answer questions every step of the way. 

In unity,


Saturday March 14, 2020

The health and safety of all of our students continues to be our first priority in the wake of the evolving situation around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York City. 

Effective March 16 and until further notice, the DOE will be implementing various social distancing measures to ensure the safety of our school community. Please review the information below and take appropriate action.

Professional Development and Trainings

 Cancelled or transitioning to web-based   

Professional Development and Trainings conducted by Central offices, executive superintendent, superintendent, and Borough Citywide Offices (BCOs) will be cancelled or transitioned to web-based opportunities, where possible. This includes, instructional PDs for teachers and principals, training opportunities for central and field staff, superintendent principal meetings, BCO trainings, etc. Please note that CTLE credits for participation in web-based sessions will continue to be made available. 

Parent Teacher Conferences

Transitioning to phone or virtual/video conference

Parent Teacher Conferences scheduled for high schools on March 19 (evening) and March 20 (afternoon) will still take place; however, parents should not attend in person. Instead, conferences should occur by phone or virtually. Additional planning considerations and guidance can be found on the Updates to Parent-Teacher Conference page.  

School Assemblies


School Assemblies including gatherings of all or part of a school for any variety of purposes, such as special programs or communicating information on a daily or weekly basis should be cancelled. For questions, email your Superintendents team.   

School Plays, Recitals, Performances, Exhibits, etc. 


School Plays, Recitals, Performances, Exhibits, etc. held in school auditoriums or larger school gathering spaces, including at off-site arts and cultural intuitions, should be cancelled and rescheduled for a later date. For questions, email

Extended Use Permits 


Extended-Use Permits  for the use of a school building by outside organizations other than Community Based Organizations (“CBOs”), outside normal school hours and days when school is not in session (after 6pm, evenings, weekends and holidays) are cancelled. This includes, but is not limited to, sports leagues, adult venues and trainings. This does not include District 79 Programs or any afterschool programs or school based organizations such as DYCD-funded Beacon Programs, SONYC, COMPASS, Community Schools, etc.   

You should ensure that all outside organizations with existing extended use permits are notified of the cancel of all organizational events. For questions, email your BCO extended use staff.

Afterschool Programs

Will continue and currently remain unaffected  

Programs should avoid large congregate activities (i.e. assemblies and performances) and should spread children out in classrooms, gyms, and cafeterias, as much as possible.  Programs that primarily serve adults or external groups (i.e. a community soccer, basketball league, social club, etc.) will be cancelled. All CBO-run evening (after 6pm) programs will be cancelled. This does not apply to D79 programs. 

PA/PTA and President's Council Meetings


PA/PTA and President's Council Meetings are required by Chancellors Regulation A-660 and have several functions. The DOE is waiving the monthly meeting requirement in Chancellor’s Regulation A-660 and requires that all PA/PTAs and Presidents Council in-person meetings, instead these should be transitioned to web-based meetings or cancelled. Please notify your PA/PTA.   School Trips (cancelled);  

School Trips


All School Trips, including domestic and international, are cancelled.   

Public School Athletic League (PSAL) 


Public School Athletic League (PSAL) are suspended until further notice. For questions, email Seth Schoenfeld

District-based Public Engagement


Such as, but not limited to: Community/parent meetings or clubs, IB trainings, Enrollment information sessions, District Diversity Planning meetings or workshops, Imagine Schools planning sessions, etc.

March 6, 2020 11:00 AM

Update  in BOLD, below:

We know that New York City’s first reported cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have put many New Yorkers on edge. The health and safety of all of our students and staff members continues to be our first priority, and we are actively working with our partners at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to monitor the situation.

In a time of anxiety, it is up to all of us to lead and model for our communities the importance of listening to facts and not responding to fear.

We want to be clear that the DOE takes COVID-19 precautions very seriously—and we are counting on you to do so as well. Your school communities will look to you for guidance and information. Please see below information, and share our updated parent letter with families tomorrow; it can be found on our website this afternoon.

Preparation and Protocols in Place

We are enhancing certain protocols and providing additional resources to schools, including:

  • Increasing deep cleanings in schools to two times per week, disinfecting surface areas with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-approved cleaning disinfectant;
  • Ensuring that all 1,800 schools have adequate hygiene and cleaning materials so that bathrooms are continuously stocked with soap and paper towels;
  •  Confirming that COVID-19-related absences will not impact applications to middle or high schools for current 4th and 7th graders who will be applying to middle and high school next fall (for fall 2021 admissions).
  • Supplying all schools with facemasks to be used if a student or staff member exhibits symptoms and requires isolation prior to transport to a doctor and/or testing;
  • Strongly encouraging students to take time for handwashing, especially before meals; monitoring this and making changes as needed to ensure students have the time;
  • Issuing updated guidance on international travel for school trips, including canceling all DOE-sponsored international trips to the following countries with a level-2 or higher advisory alert from the CDC: China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan; and
  • Consistent with guidance from the CDC and NYSED, advising the cancellation of all study abroad programs; this includes where students are scheduled to come from other countries to stay with host families in NYC, and where DOE public school students are hosted abroad.

You have also received extensive guidance for principals that covers general preparedness, resources, recommended virus-control practices for schools, and more. We are now providing you a comprehensive checklist with specific steps to follow for prevention, planning, training, handling the occurrence of symptoms in your school, and more. Please review this checklist immediately, and keep it close at hand.

Guidance for Nurses and Custodians

In addition, we have prepared guidance documents tailored to school personnel with particularly important roles in addressing this challenge, including:

  • Practices and procedures for nurses and health providers. Consistent with standard procedure, staff should continue to send home students with respiratory symptoms and fever. If there is concern that a student may have novel coronavirus infection, medical providers should call the NYC Department of Health Provider Access Line at 1-866-692-3641. 
  • An important note: if your school does not have a nurse and a student is sick with a fever and cough or shortness of breath, staff should ask the student to wear a face mask, call for parental pick up, and recommend calling a medical provider for instructions. Any student with respiratory symptoms and fever should wait with an adult in a room with a closed door, away from other students. And the adult waiting with the child should be provided with a mask and stay at least 3 feet away from the child in the room.
  • Cleaning procedures for custodial engineers. Custodial engineers and building managers should regularly disinfect bathrooms, cafeteria, and common area doorknobs on a regular basis. They should also ensure the building is properly ventilated, including opening all windows periodically. 

Communicating with Families

Clear and consistent communication with families is of critical importance. Information has been shared with parents via family letters backpacked home in recent days, on social media, and City websites, which will continue to be updated daily. Here is a list of resources with family-facing information on COVID-19:

Guidance for Travelers

Per CDC recommendations posted 3/4/2020, travelers returning from affected countries (currently China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea) identified by the CDC should stay home for 14 days from the time they left the affected country, and monitor their health and avoid contact with others. If returning travelers from affected countries develop fever, cough or trouble breathing, they should call their medical provider and tell them about their symptoms and recent travel.

These recommendations apply to any travelers returning after 12:00pm on 3/4/2020. Please monitor website for updates on affected countries here:

Important Precautions

It is vitally important that we all routinely employ infection prevention strategies to block the transmission of common respiratory viruses. That means strongly encouraging all staff and students to:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (in the absence of a tissue, cough or sneeze into your shirt sleeve or bent arm).
  • Keep your hands clean (wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Get the flu shot (at this time, there are no current vaccinations for coronaviruses).
  • Display student-friendly “Cover Your Cough” posters at appropriate locations throughout your school in appropriate languages to encourage general infection control.

These precautions extend to current and upcoming Parent-Teacher Conferences. Please encourage family members to stay home if they are not feeling well, and assure them that another time for conferencing will be made available so they do not have to worry about missing the opportunity to connect with their child’s teacher.

Staff Timekeeping

We understand there are many questions around timekeeping given this rapidly evolving situation. Guidance around staff absences related to coronavirus will be issued in the near future.

Resources to Stay Informed and Fight Bias

You will find critical updates at including ways to fight stigma and bias around this issue. It’s important we come together as school communities and support one another as neighbors and New Yorkers during this time. COVID-19 is not more likely found in any one race or nationality, and we must each model inclusion and actively work to combat bias within schools. 

The health and safety of our students and staff members continues to be our highest priority, and we will follow all guidance and take all appropriate measures accordingly. Thank you for partnering with us to keep our communities safe, and for taking the lead on communicating this critical information to your families and staff members.

March 3, 2020                                                      


  • Health officials are still learning about the newly discovered respiratory virus COVID-19, how it is transmitted, and the spectrum of illness among infected persons.
  • SARS-CoV-2 is the cause of the illness known as COVID-19
  • Based on current information, the health risk to New Yorkers is considered low due to the lack of confirmed cases of person-to-person transmission in New York City.
  • If person-to-person transmission is confirmed, additional information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

About Coronaviruses

  • Coronaviruses are common in humans and often cause mild upper respiratory tract infections. .
  • Rarely, coronaviruses, , like SARS-CoV-2, capable of causing severe illness, can emerge that infect and spread from person to person .  

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it and, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands

For answers to common questions about the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) specific to the school setting and to get accurate information and help guard against stigma and fear, visit:

To learn the most up-to-date information, visit:

Staff or students planning to travel abroad should review CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel:

DOE International Travel Trip Policy for Schools

  • Based on the CDC travel guidelines for international travel, and in consultation with the Health Department, the DOE is issuing the updated guidance on international travel. Currently, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid or consider postponing all nonessential travel to the following destinations that have a level 2 or higher advisory alert:  China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan.  Accordingly, all DOE-sponsored international trips to these countries must be cancelled for the rest of this school year.  If any additional countries are added to this list we will continue to provide updated information.
  • Schools should work with travel vendors regarding securing reimbursement of trip fees. In instances where vendors will neither reimburse nor credit the school for future trips, superintendents should escalate to their BCO Directors for vendor engagement. Please note that the DOE is limited in its ability to secure funds particularly in instances where trips were not booked with the DOE contracted vendors.

General Preparedness

Follow Standard Infection Control Precautions

Routinely employ infection prevention strategies that can prevent transmission of common respiratory viruses (e.g., influenza or “flu,” “common cold viruses”).  These include encouraging staff and students to:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (in the absence of a tissue, cough or sneeze into your shirt sleeve or bent arm).
  • Keep your hands clean (wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds). 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Get the flu shot (at this time, there are no current vaccinations for coronaviruses).
  • Schools should always have student-friendly “Cover Your Cough” posters at appropriate locations throughout the school in appropriate languages to encourage general infection control.

The routine use of these infection prevention strategies cannot be overemphasized.

Additional Items

All of the following should be in place:

  1. All bathrooms are stocked with soap and paper towels.
  2. Announcements have been made that emphasize the importance of covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands frequently.
  3. Custodial engineers and building managers disinfect bathrooms, cafeteria and common area door knobs on a regular basis.
  4. Custodial engineers and building managers ensure building is properly ventilated, for example, by opening all the windows.


  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently screening people arriving from mainland China for symptoms and advising them on how to monitor themselves for 14 days after arrival and how to seek care if they become ill.  These travelers should not come to work or school for 14 days after leaving mainland China. While China is still the only officially restricted country by CDC guidelines, DOE and DOHMH are currently monitoring people with travel or strong connections with others who have travelled to South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan.
  • There are no restrictions on travelers returning from any other countries at this time. Healthy students and staff returning from other countries may return to school/work.

Please remember it is important that as we address this outbreak, we separate facts from fear, and guard against stigma and discrimination. There are a lot of things on social media and in the news that are at best not rooted in science and at worst, offensive, demeaning and racist.  We need to encourage everyone to keep their attention on the facts and support our neighbors. As you interact with families and students during these evaluations please keep this in mind.

February 29, 2020 Update

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discussed possible options for what could happen if there is local person-to-person transmission of the novel coronavirus in the United States, including recommendations for school systems to consider.

At this time, it is important to listen to facts and not respond to fear. Currently there are no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in New York City and the risk to New Yorkers remains low.

However, transmission of the virus in other countries has raised our level of concern, and we are preparing for the possibility of person-to-person transmission in New York City. The measures that are put in place should local person-to-person transmissions begin will depend on the number of individuals affected and the general severity of illness we experience in our city. Our public health experts are vigilantly preparing for a spectrum of possible scenarios, and we are in close contact with them regarding how that may impact our school communities. There are no plans to close schools at this time.

This is an extreme measure that can be disruptive to day to day life, and the decision to implement will be at the direction of public health experts. 

All students and staff should continue to practice general flu prevention measures including:

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Get your flu shot – it’s never too late
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick.  Call your doctor and let them know your symptoms, travel history, and if you’ve had contact with people who are sick.

Please backpack the attached letter home to families, as well as these Coronavirus FAQs for helpful information regarding common questions about the coronavirus. It is up to all of us to ensure school communities are informed of the facts in order to stay aware of the latest updates, and also to help guard against stigma and fear associated with the virus. Translated versions of the letter will be made available shortly on the DOE’s website; please backpack translations by tomorrow.

For more information and regular updates, visit the Health Department’s website. For questions, contact your school nurse or BCO health director.

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