Outdoor Learning Initiative 

Outdoor learning supports student learning and a safe return to school in multiple ways.

Research indicates that COVID-19 transmission is less likely outside; prior research points to the health, developmental, and educational benefits of time spent outside.

With additional space via Outdoor Learning, schools have increased capacity for academic classes and critical activities that can help develop socialization skills, enhance communities, promote physical health, and at best, foster some of the joys of childhood that the pandemic curbed.

Application Process

To provide enough space for these courses and activities, along with other instruction that can ease indoor space burdens, schools should first turn to their regular onsite options (i.e., school grounds such as yards and fields). Decisions about space allocations should be reviewed and approved by the Building Council. No additional steps are needed to approve Outdoor Learning in those spaces.

In cases where school grounds are non-existent or insufficient, school communities may choose to pursue additional outdoor learning space such as street space and local parks.

Schools, even if they were part of Outdoor Learning last year, must apply for space directly from each agency at the links below.

Please note that the applications are not specific for schools or Outdoor Learning, and schools are advised to review the DOE Guidance documents prior to submission for insight into the application requirements.

Open Streets

Parks

In the event that the school’s submitted plan is missing information, or conflicts with another school’s approved site, representatives from the respective agencies will reach out to the school to discuss application resolutions.

For general questions about the Outdoor Learning initiative, email OutdoorLearning@schools.nyc.gov.

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