When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that public schools are shutting down from Monday, March 16 until Monday, April 20, to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many people felt relieved as well as uncertainty about what it’ll mean for students who still have a few months left of the school year.
Chancellor Richard Carranza said that while the city didn’t have an immediate plan for what the rest of the school year will look like during the pandemic’s containment period, they would have more answers about remote (or online) learning as they train teachers from Tuesday, March 17, to Thursday, March 19.
“We’re transitioning to remote learning so our students can stay on track while remaining safe and healthy,” a Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson told QNS. “This is an ever-changing situation, but we are committed to providing our students and educators the opportunity to remain connected and engaged with their course content.”
The most pressing issue is to get students electronic devices to use at home as well as internet access, as public services like the Queens Public Library will be closed until further notice to slow the spread of the virus.
Carranza said that out of 1.1 million students in the New York City public school system, roughly 300,000 don’t have electronic devices.
The DOE is partnering with companies like Apple to get students electronic devices such as iPads. The first batch of 25,000 iPads will be delivered to students some time next week, according to a DOE spokesperson.
But the DOE is also working with internet providers like Spectrum to guarantee internet access for students.
As of Monday, March 16, Spectrum is offering households with K-12 and college students free WiFi access and broadband (high-speed internet) for the next 60 days. But this only applies to households who do not already have a Spectrum WiFi and broadband subscription.
To enroll, or to ask for more information, call 1-844-488-8395 or go to spectrum.com.
Installation fees will be waived for new student households. For most new customers, self-installation is an option and free professional installation is also available.
For customers where self-installation is available, equipment and instructions can be shipped directly to the customer at no charge. For customers who have never had Spectrum services at their address, professional installation is required.
For those struggling to pay their Wi-Fi bills as a result of COVID-19, a Spectrum agent told QNS that the billing department is willing to make accommodations.
Spectrum will also open its Wi-Fi hotspots across their footprint for public use. They said they don’t have data caps or hidden fees.
Some of these offerings also apply to businesses.
Other internet providers are also offering free Wi-Fi and hotspots in public spaces include Comcast via their Xfinity brand and AT&T.
Although public schools are closed, they will remain open for grab-and-go lunches from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Any and all students, whether they’re in pre-K or 21 years old, can go to any school in order to pick up their breakfast and lunch — they do not need to be enrolled in the school where they pick up their meals. Meals will be available outside of the main entrance of every school.