Mayor Bill de Blasio has claimed the city is on track to obtain thousands of additional teachers ahead of the reopening of public schools next week – after the first day of remote classes was plagued by technical difficulties.
New York City students in kindergarten through 12th grade returned to school on Monday through remote-learning, the same way many of the state’s other urban districts have.
Only Pre-K and some special education students ended a six-month absence from school buildings and returned to the classroom on Monday after multiple delays.
Meanwhile, those who started the school year online were faced with technical difficulties and delays after the online student portal crashed for several minutes at the start of the school day.
De Blasio has come under fire by parents and residents over his handling of students’ return to school which been marred by delays and confusion due to the new model imposed amid the pandemic.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday reassured New Yorkers that the city is on track to hire thousands of teachers ahead of the reopening of classrooms next week
Monday’s start to the school year was plagued with technical difficulties after the students online portal crashed for several minutes at the start of the day
Kindergarten through fifth grade schools and grade 5-8 schools are now due to resume in-person learning next Tuesday, while high school students will return on Thursday, October 1.
De Blasio had previously said that the city would need to hire 2,000 additional teachers, bringing the total number needed to 4,500, if in-class and at-home live learning was to be successful.
During a press conference on Tuesday, he responded to questions regarding concerns over the teacher shortage and whether the city will be able to hire enough staff on time.
‘We’ve had until now, a changing situation in terms of the number of teachers available, the numbers of students available,’ De Blasio said.
‘It has caused some real challenges in getting the numbers right, but what we saw in the last few days is that we surged a certain number of personnel to make sure the needs were filled,’ de Blasio said.
Angry New Yorkers criticized the mayor and the DOE for the crash
The mayor explained the city is planning to apply the same model used at Pre-K schools this week when reopening elementary schools and high schools next week.
He did not specify how many teachers that have been hired, but said the numbers are now ‘coming in much stronger.’
‘There’s confidence those numbers are coming forward in the way we need them to. There’s a lot of people looking for work,’ the mayor said.
‘What we are finding is, the thousands of educators who now work at the DOE, who are certified, ready to go, who were working at other jobs not in classrooms – they’re moving into the classroom. That’s working smoothly.
‘The substitute pool is over 5,000, who are already certified – they’re moving into place.’
‘We’re finding more and more teachers who have taught previously and want to come back into the profession. Young people planning to be teachers in the middle of their degree programs – there’s a lot of different pieces here.’
De Blasio said the Department of Education is also looking at adjunct professors at CUNY schools who are now looking for work in lower education.
When asked about how many teachers he was aiming to hire, de Blasio admitted there ‘isn’t yet a final number’.
‘[W]hat we found out in the previous dynamics was there was so much complexity going on that we had to cut through it and get the numbers right, case by case, school by school and that process clearly needed work,’ he said.
‘And now what I saw going into yesterday was it had finally aligned the way we needed it to, and remember originally we had hoped to be up and running September 10th, 11 days later 1,800 sites up and the staffing was right.
‘It was proven now on a large scale, that same model is going to work for next Tuesday and next Thursday, we got a lot of work to do, but we finally have the design we need to do it.’
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, right, talks at a news conference at the Mosaic Pre-K Center while Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, listens on the first day of school
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio does a social distancing elbow bump with four-year old Oliver as he welcomes students to Pre-K at Mosaic Pre-K Center in the Queens on Monday
The mayor proudly claimed the city was ‘off to a really strong start’ with yesterday’s reopening, but did not mention the technical glitches experienced by remote learners.
The Department of Education on Monday announced it was experiencing a crash around 9am, shortly after millions of students logged on for class.
‘The DOE login page was down for 10 min around 9am, which may have affected Zoom, TeachHub, email, & other platforms. We were back in business within minutes & we’re continuing to keep an eye on it. Families who have any other issues can submit a ticket,’ officials said on Twitter.
Angry New Yorkers responded to the tweet, with some claiming the system had been down for longer.
‘SSO was down a lot earlier and longer than that! Didn’t expect a million kids to be logging on at the same time?,’ user Jocelyn Fung said.
‘I mean, it’s not like this hasn’t happened before,’ tweeted another user while sharing a screenshot of the offline student portal from last week.
On Monday, de Blasio’s Twitter was immediately inundated with calls to resign from angry New Yorkers.
‘First lesson of the school year: Resign,’ one tweeted.
Another said: ‘Teachers and principals are going above and beyond. You should be ashamed of yourself. Just resign.’
The rate of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations plunged after an April peak and has largely flattened this summer across the state: New York has seen an average of 1% of daily tests coming up positive since June.