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A Powerpoint is not a Plan / NYC Schools in September

June 13, 2020 am30 2:12 am

The New York City Department of Education issued a planning document for September, on June 9. They were very, very late. And, big surprise, it turns out not to be a planning document. It’s more like a poorly thought out framework.

The story gets worse, but for now, let’s look at their powerpoint.

Nothing special about the cover, except you should notice it is dated June 9 and “Preliminary.”


You might need to click this image to open it. But that dark blue stage, that’s May and June, except this document was not issued as a preliminary draft until June 9, not explained to principals until June 11, and that dark blue arrow? That’s all stuff we haven’t started, or have just started.

Removing implicit bias from the school system is a higher priority than removing implicit dishonesty, but we shouldn’t skip either.


The “Design Areas” are essentially a list of questions for principals, that many principals will treat as preapproved options:

1. Should there be enhanced health measures?

2. Should there be a trauma-informed transition back to school?

3. Should blended /remote learning continue?

4. When should in- person school start? When should 12- month programs start?

5. Should return to school be rolled / phased?

6. Should there be a split school schedule to allow for social distancing?

7. Should there be modifications to building operations

8. Should there be modifications to school support services?

1.1. Additional protective equipment and sanitation protocols

2.1. Two week long transition

3.1. Blended Learning should continue during phasing period

4.1 Allow for transition back

5.1. Phase by vulnerable populations

6.1. Assess social distancing requirements for capacity

7.1. Modified movement protocols

8.1 Pupil Transportation

1.2 Testing and health measures (e.g. social distancing)

2.2. Transition period is focused on trauma based care

3.2. Blended Learning should be integrated in school delivery model

4.2 Create a supportive return to normalcy

5.2. Phase by populations under- served by remote learning

6.2. Split schedules by day, week

7.2. Increased building supplies and cleaning operations

1.3 Health status monitoring protocols

2.3 Transition involving a return to ‘old’ classes and ‘hand-off’ to new ones

Combination of the above or alternative option

4.3 Acknowledge unknown health risks

5.3. Phase by grade level

6.3 Split schedule based on student/family needs

7.3. Set-up testing stations

8.2 School Food Operations

Combination of the above or alternative option

Combination of the above or alternative option

Combination of the above or alternative option

Combination of the above or alternative option

Combination of the above or alternative option

Unfortunately, “Continue Remote Learning” is not listed as an option in column 3. Most of us need that option.

The “Sample Deep Dive” is laughably not a deep dive. There is no actual look at the complexities of scheduling. Instead, a facile list of daily A/B, weekly A/B, and 2/3 A/B (with some remote) is offered.

An honest look at the capacity numbers (or a conversation with an actual person who works in an actual school) would have revealed that most of our schools need A/B/C or A/B/C/D. I was talking to a chapter leader earlier whose school, if they did this, would require A/B/C/D/E.

And not a detail is examined.


Finally we get to space utilization. The Department is going to be using 65 square feet per student as their guideline. But their calculation for this school looks strange.

How can 24 rooms have capacity of 230 – 280?  The DoE has the size of the rooms. If they can’t do division, they have calculators. And the average seems to be about 11 students per room. Have they remembered to include the teacher? They mention student capacity. I think these morons forgot to include teachers. Twelve students (the top of their range and one teacher would take 845 square feet. That’s not common in NYC. Have they picked an atypical school, or just made a mistake? Your guess.

DOE Planning Overview for Principal Meetings

11 Comments leave one →
  1. NYC4Life permalink
    June 13, 2020 am30 10:58 am 10:58 am

    What about Danielson? The whole rubric is based on peer interaction. Now is the time to address this ridiculous evaluation tool. We need to go back to S/U system during this coronavirus.

    • June 14, 2020 pm30 1:04 pm 1:04 pm

      We will be back to S and U temporarily. But this is an opportunity to fight to reopen that. The conflation of ratings (which we understand) with “teacher improvement” was a bad move.

  2. June 13, 2020 am30 11:23 am 11:23 am

    The beginning of a plan … yes …. many more questions and scheduling is complex, if NYC moves to Stage 4 schools will open … and different schools will have different models, throwing rocks in not helpful, asking the deeper questions and offering suggestions is useful. we are headed towards a “blended model,” how should it look in your school? By mid-August there will be a final plan …. what will it look like for your school, or, anyone’s school is still up in the air …. and …. unless the feds have another stimulus we’ll be talking about layoffs ….

    • June 13, 2020 am30 11:28 am 11:28 am

      We have to throw rocks. This framework will not produce workable models. None at the high school level. Maybe none at lower levels either.

      If we are going to get anything done, this needs to be ditched. And fast. Thus the rocks. And we will need smarter people to produce a framework that has a chance.

      People who actually do planning (including me) cannot make this work. It is not helpful for people who have not dug into this to say “By mid-August there will be a final plan” – we should distinguish between hopes (which this is) and knowledge.


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