You are reading

Mayor Announces Schools Can Utilize Outdoor Space for Classes, Including Streets and Parks

PS 11 School Yard (Queens Post)

Aug. 25, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that schools can apply to the City to hold classes outside in schoolyards, local parks and closed streets to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Schools that don’t have usable outdoor space within their campuses, as well as schools in neighborhoods that were hit hard by the coronavirus, will get priority for outdoor space in the application process.

The Queens neighborhoods prioritized are Briarwood, Corona, Jamaica, Queensbridge, Rockaway and Far Rockaway, de Blasio said.

The Department of Education (DOE) will work with other city agencies, such as the Parks Department and Department of Transportation (DOT), to find and secure additional outdoor learning areas.

“We want to give schools the option to do as much outdoors as they can,” de Blasio said. “It’s up to [principals] to figure out how to use school yards and anything on school property that’s outdoors, but we’re going to go farther.”

In some cases, the city will close off adjacent streets for a period of time and in other cases, space in local parks can be turned into an outdoor classroom, he said.

School principals can request additional outdoor space and street closures by Friday, Aug. 28. Principals are promised a response from the DOE within a week, by Sept. 4. After that, the DOE will accept requests on a rolling basis. Public, private, charter and religious schools can all apply.

The applications will be reviewed by a group of city agencies including the Parks, Sanitation, Transportation and Education departments along with the NYPD and FDNY.

Requirements for requests for street closures include streets that have little traffic, no bus routes, and no entrances to police or fire stations or hospitals. Schools will have to provide their own street blocking barriers.

De Blasio made the announcement with just two and a half weeks left before public schools reopen — and many officials are asking why it’s so last minute.

“For weeks we have begged the City to consider outdoor learning as a crucial tool for keeping students who must learn in-person safe, only to be rebuffed,” Astoria Council Member Costa Constantinides said. “We will now find ourselves scrambling to identify those open spaces, low-hanging fruit that could’ve been dealt with more than a month ago.”

The principals’ union, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), also called the mayor’s announcement too late and said it leaves too many questions unanswered.

“Once again, the City and DOE have made decisions, rolled out guidance and announced a deadline far too late and haphazardly for school leaders to develop and implement a thoughtful and well-constructed plan,” CSA President Mark Cannizzaro said in a statement. “The short-sided guidance on outdoor learning also lacks detail, raising serious concerns around safety and security.”

Scientists have confirmed that the coronavirus is less easily spread outdoors. Many elected officials as well as parents, teachers and principals have readily called on the mayor to allow outdoor learning at city schools.

PS 11 in Woodside (QueensPost)

“Though the idea of outdoor learning has real merit, the City’s plan will not be implemented nearly as well as it could have been if the Mayor had simply given principals the time and support they need,” Cannizzaro said.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer also chastised the mayor’s last-minute decision.

“Why wasn’t this decision made weeks ago? Parents need time to plan—and educators need time to implement these policies successfully,” Stringer tweeted. “New Yorkers deserve proactive leadership—without it we are putting teachers and parents in an impossible situation.”

De Blasio has repeatedly pointed to bad weather as an obstacle for outdoor learning.

“We never know what the weather brings and that’s why outdoor learning – I’ve said it before – is not a perfect solution and it won’t work every day, but it will certainly add a lot of flexibility to what we’re doing and a great alternative for many schools,” de Blasio said Monday.

email the author: [email protected]

One Comment

Click for Comments 
NYC Mayor DeBlasio gets a F

Can not use the “closed streets” cars are crashing into the outdoor dining. This Mayor has no clue , he get a F for failures ( multiple failures )

1
1
Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Raga sworn in as first-ever Filipino American elected to the state Legislature

More than 300 community members attended the historic inauguration of Assemblyman Steven Raga as the first Filipino American elected to office in New York state.

Many who attended the swearing-in event at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park wore traditional and cultural attire to the event at the building that once housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946 to 1950 until its current home in Manhattan became available for the world body.