Concerns raised over some students' lack of digital tools, access as pandemic shutters NYC schools
All New York City schools are closed to in-person learning now that the city has reached its 3% coronavirus infection rate threshold.
And as buildings are closed, there are growing concerns about what will happen to hundreds of thousands of students who don't have proper access to remote learning.
Child advocates say students not having the devices they need seriously hurts their ability to learn, and they want the city to find a solution fast so kids can have a chance.
The Family Homelessness Coalition Released a statement that says in part, "Many lack basic necessities like Wi-Fi access, a working tablet or even physical space to study and learn. New York City cannot stand idly by as our most vulnerable children fall even further behind, spiraling deeper into a cycle of poverty."
School Chancellor Richard Carranza says he is aware there are nearly 60,000 students who don't have an iPad or tablet to do their work at home, and he's working to fix the issue. He says 40,000 devices should arrive by the end of the week, but some local officials say that's still not enough.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is demanding that the city quickly outline a new detailed plan to keep students on track.
Some local officials said it could have been avoided.
Public advocate Jummanne Willams called out de Blasio for his last-minute decision to shut down schools during a Facebook Live with City Councilman Mark Treyger. Williams said closing schools is unacceptable when there are so many kids who don't have access to Wi-Fi and devices so they can properly learn at home.
"It's like nails on a chalkboard every time I hear the mayor say we couldn't have anticipated this. All of us anticipated this," Williams said.
Both Williams and Treyger said they threw out a number of plans to make sure students get the proper education they need during the pandemic that were based on safety and equity, but they were ignored.
"The only thing worse than over 60,000 kids still without a device in November is entering the school year knowing that thousands of children are still without a device and reliable internet,"
Child advocates also called on the city to do better. The Family Homelessness Coalition released a statement that said in part: "New York City cannot stand idly by as our most vulnerable children fall even further behind, spiraling deeper into a cycle of poverty," Treyger said.
Williams said the only thing can done now is to reset and hope for the best.
As of now, the plan is to keep schools closed through the Thanksgiving break, but child advocates say they hope a proper solution for students without access to properly learn at home comes soon.
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