Queens councilman calls on DOE to add seats for Learning Bridges program in District 24

Max Parrott/QNS

Councilman Robert Holden is calling on Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and the Department of Education (DOE) to add more seats for the Learning Bridges program in District 24.

In a letter addressed to Carranza, dated Oct. 20, Holden stated his office has received complaints from families in his district about the “lack of access” to the Learning Bridges program. The program promised to offer 100,000 free child care seats by the city for blended learning students on their remote learning days.

In September, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced seats will be added on a rolling basis, with 70,000 of them to open by October and the rest of the 100,000 to open by December.

Holden said several schools in Council District 30 — which encompasses the neighborhoods of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Woodside — that also fall under Schools District 24, are missing from the program, mainly, P.S./I.S. 113, P.S. 58, P.S. 153, I.S. 73, P.S. 49, P.S. 128, P.S. 229 and P.S. 290.

“The blended learning model has presented many challenges to our principals, teachers and students, and the uncertainty that our parents face is a serious problem,” Holden wrote.

The former professor added that P.S. 128’s annex may be a good site for Learning Bridges, as it is not currently in use. The Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, a local nonprofit, is willing to operate the program at the facility.

“The communities I represent are filled with essential workers and first-responders who worked hard during this pandemic. As often is the case, we are always overlooked for any city programs, despite paying our taxes as middle-class residents,” Holden wrote. “I find it inconceivable that so many families in my district seemingly have no access to such a critical program like Learning Bridges.”

Mark Zustovich, spokesman for NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), told QNS they “know how important child care is for working families, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when school year plans have been upended for many households.”

“Additional programs are opening every week across the city to provide supervised learning and enrichment activities for young people who can’t be at home or in school. We will continue adding seats, making offers available to more families and increasing the number of schools served throughout the fall,” said Zustovich.

For more information, visit the DOE’s Learning Bridges website.

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