Some New York public school students with medical exemptions from in-person education feel they are lagging behind – CBS New York


NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – Mayor Bill de Blasio has strongly resisted calls for a distance learning option this school year, but two weeks into the semester and some students considered “medically fragile” are already late.

Ali Bauman of CBS2 sat down with a family in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

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“I want a good education,” said August Huete, 10.

August is missing his school, Public School 216 in Brooklyn.

Due to underlying medical issues, the fifth-grader is one of hundreds of New York City public school students medically exempt from in-person instruction this year.

“He has asthma and an overactive immune system disorder,” mother Jennifer Goddard said.

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With no distance learning option this school year, the city offers kids like August a “medically necessary instruction” program – essentially, a distance tutor.

“We logged in at 10 am, finished at 11:15 am. Not the most educated, ”August said.

The program only includes one hour of lessons per day, five days a week.

“An hour a day is not an education,” Goddard said.

“Are you worried about a learning loss? Bauman asked.

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“Yes,” Goddard said.

“Absolutely. If we want to keep our son safe and alive and out of a hospital, we have to sacrifice his education,” said Father Andre Huete.

August’s parents said the school had suggested he could apply for medically necessary instruction in person, in which the Education Department would send a teacher to their home for lessons each day, but his parents say this defeats the purpose of keeping him at home.

“The work that these teachers do virtually, there is no reason that it cannot also do a full day,” Goddard said.

“Now we have a significant number of school children in New York who are falling behind because they are not getting any education,” State Senator John C. Liu said.

Liu is sponsoring a bill that would require the country’s largest school system to offer a full distance education option until the rate of COVID transmission declines.

“In all likelihood, the session would not resume until January, so this is a long-term solution,” he said.

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In the meantime, August makes his own lesson plans, but it’s not really a program.

“We’re going to continue what we’re doing the best we can and make sure he gets some form of reading… but we’re just incredibly discouraged and disappointed that it’s the best they can do,” Huete said.

The DOE did not respond to CBS2’s questions about learning loss, simply stating that the program “provides our immunocompromised students with high quality education and support.”

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While elementary school students participating in the program have five hours of class per week, the DOE says middle school and high school students receive 10 hours per week.


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