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OPC vs jd – who would you choose?

August 12, 2020 am31 12:09 am

So pretend for a moment that you are an NYCDoE principal and that you need to get September ready and you can have an outside helper, and you have it narrowed down to the Overpaid Private Consultant (OPC) that the DoE uses, or me (JD)… and all you have to go on are these little bits that each of us wrote about entry into buildings. Read on, and prepare to make your choice.

Overpaid Private Consultant

Checklist for General Student Entry Procedures

(from the 2020 – 2021 School Year | Reopening Playbook for Principals)

playbook-for-principals-2020-2021-school-reopening – p22

      •   Yes, our school entry procedures align with health and safety measures related to temperature checks. Yes, I have referred to Health Policy for up-to-date guidance on temperature check protocols.
      •   Yes, our school (and campuses if applicable) has assigned sufficient staffing to accommodate multiple points of entry should identify these multiple points of entry, ensure that students report to classrooms, and avoid shared spaces at the beginning of the day.
      •   Yes, sufficient staff to ensure that students are supported in maintaining physical distancing and using PPE supervises each point of entry.
      •   Yes, this includes staff presence outside the school building to support students and families lining up for entry.
      •   Yes, either I, as school principal, and/or the Building Response Team (BRT) Leader in collaboration with BRT have identified staff.
      •   Yes, the staff assigned to morning entry and dismissal only include administrators, school aides, deans, and clerical staff, School Safety Agents, and Circular 6 staff.
      •   [IF APPLICABLE TO YOUR SCHOOL] Yes, guidance staffing entry and dismissal at District 75 sites to follow.
      •   Yes, if possible, school counselors and social workers have been assigned to morning entry or designated locations to support any students exhibiting signs of distress.
      •   Yes, our school ensures all students (or their families on their behalf) have completed a health screening before entering the school; refer to “Daily Health Screenings” in the COVID-19 School Health Policy. Yes, I am aware additional guidance is forthcoming.
      •   Yes, we have recommended our students arrive with their own face coverings, and if they do not have a face covering, one will be provided before entering the school building.o Yes, our school has a plan to implement a single file line up with six feet markers and identified traffic patterns with directional markings.
      •   Yes, signage identifying the morning entry protocols and outlining the four DOHMH core actions is conspicuously posted at points of entry and within the lobby. Yes, my school has taken into consideration the fact that signage will be available in multiple languages.
      •   Yes, upon entry to our school building, students are directed to their assigned classrooms (six feet from one another) and have the ability to collect breakfast (grab and go) at entry.
      •   Yes, students clean their hands with sanitizer or with soap and water after entry and before entering class.


What needs to be in an entry plan?

(from this here blog post)

Time; Number

An entry plan must include time that each entry begins, and how many students are entering. For example, a 6 – 8 school of 1350 students, might be operating in three cohorts, of 450 each. Bringing in 450 all at once would likely cause the crowd to smoosh together. Perhaps the school brings in 150 7th graders at 8, 150 8th graders at 8:30, 150 6th graders at 9:00.  That’s the beginning of a plan. Has your school begun a discussion that looks like that? No? Probably very few have.


Will your school be using one entry door? More doors would allow quicker entry, but see “Post-Entry” below for complications. Also, multiple doors require more staff.

Gathering Location

An entry plan must include where the children are prior to entry. What if your school always had kids come hang out in the playground or school yard? Issue, right? Ever try to keep middle schoolers from touching each other? Who will keep them socially distanced in a school yard? Or perhaps they should be lined up from the moment they arrive? (I was getting to that). A six foot distanced line for 150 students is about 900 feet (almost 0.2 mile). That’s approximately one full avenue block in Manhattan, or 3 1/2 short street blocks. Is there adequate sidewalk space? Are there issues with driveways? Perhaps the street could be shut off from 7:30 – 10:00 for entry, and a zigzag Disneyland-style (but with much more space) line could be constructed. Maybe there is a nearby parking lot? The least of the problems are putting down marks and cones.

Line mechanics

A sidewalk line with markings doesn’t have to be reset each day. Blocking off driveways does. Blocking off a street and putting up cones or stanchions and ropes does. That’s not the hard part, but it’s part. Much more challenging, as students arrive, moving them to the right spot, and getting them to stay there.  Assume our 900 foot line has been folded so that it is 150 feet, zigzagging about 25 feet in the street (making a rectangle). There is work to do monitoring the line (from outside the line), maintaining spacing, moving students forward. These are serious assignments. If a person assigned is a teacher, this is not prep time.

Entry duration

I have no idea how long it takes to bring 150 students into a building while maintaining social distancing. I am here assuming that 30 minutes is more than enough time – but do I know that? No. And see “Post-entry” below, which could slow things down. If 30 minutes are insufficient, the “stagger” might need to be greater. I can’t imagine that less than 15 minutes is possible.


As a student enters the building, the DoE requires they wash hands. Where are your bathrooms? How will the student reach the bathroom? How long will hand washing take? Will you create a line outside each bathroom? How long can the line be before you cause crowding / lose control? Remember, social distancing must be maintained in the hallways and lines and bathrooms, not just the classroom. The answers to some of these questions may lead you to slow entry, to keep the numbers under control. Also, if you are using multiple entries, how will you coordinate to prevent pile-up in the hallway?

Wrong Day Richard

Students will arrive on the wrong day. It will happen by mistake. It will happen intentionally. The student might miss school. The parent might seek to drop off the child because there is no one to watch her. How will the school verify that the correct students have arrived? What will happen to the student who arrives on the wrong day?  And here, I’m sorry, the answer can’t just be “call the parent to come pick him up” – where will the child stay in the meantime? One option in regular times that is not an option today: no mass preps in the auditorium without violating social distancing.

Mr. Principal

You Choose

Which one of these authors would be more helpful?

OK, so I have had my little fun. Let’s get serious for a second.

On a serious note, Scanning Schools

I did not address scanning schools. I skipped them (and campus schools) because they include complexities I know less about. But I also skipped scanning schools because they are more accustomed to details procedures related to entry, and vitally, to rhythms related to entry. I don’t think a scanning school will have an easier time getting things right, but I think they will have an easier time correcting mistakes. That being said, I would have never written what the DoE’s overpaid consultant did at the opening of a completely separate scanning session:

Yes,I am aware that given the reduction of enrollment on any given day, the process of scanning should be manageable under this new practice of morning entry.

which is ridiculous, insulting, and a little bit threatening to the principal of the scanning school, who needs to “check off” that any problems were caused by that principal’s incompetence, not by a problem in the design imposed by DoE Central.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 12, 2020 am31 9:09 am 9:09 am

    Without mandatory staff and students testing with rapid test results, all plans will fail.

    • August 12, 2020 am31 10:34 am 10:34 am

      Yes, but worse. Even with mandatory testing, all these plans will fail.

      de Blasio has been willing to make impossible promises, because he doesn’t have to keep them.

      They want some in-person instruction? Take care of safety FIRST, and then let teachers figure out what works. It won’t look like the DoE’s proposals.

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