The NYC Council Education and Health Committees held oversight hearings on October 16 on the reopening of schools, as well as two proposed bills to require detailed attendance reporting: Int. 2058 and Int. 2104. Below is my testimony on the issue of class size and how to sharpen these bills to require more precise and disaggregated reporting on the three kinds of instruction students are receiving: in-person face-to-face learning, blended online learning, and full-time remote learning.
The most depressing statistic revealed at the hearings: 77,000 students still don’t have access to devices for remote learning.
The DOE also failed to provide any data on how many students are attending school in-person only to receive instruction on their computers, how many more teachers are needed to staff all three types of programs sufficiently, and/or how many houseless students have logged into any sort of online classes.
The most hopeful finding: Only 0.2% of students and staff randomly tested randomly so far in the public schools have been shown to be positive for COVID-19; more on this here. Dr. Jay Varma, the Senior Advisor for Public Health to the Mayor, also revealed at the hearings that their estimates of the actual current COVID-19 infection rate in NYC is between 0.1-0.7% --rather than the much higher positivity rate which according to the state is 1.3%, and according to the city is 2.17%, which instead reflects how many New Yorkers have tested positive at any one time.