16 THE QUEENS COURIER • MARСH 19, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Queens lawmakers, Community Education Councils react to school shutdown
BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
Th e decision to close schools didn’t
come easy for Mayor Bill de Blasio and
Schools Chancellor Carranza, but aft er
mounting pressure from teachers, parents
and fellow elected offi cials and coronavirus
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Offi ce.
NYC Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced that students can stay healthy and full during the COVID-19 outbreak by announcing students can
pick up food.
Free Wi-Fi for students, DOE to deliver 25,000 iPads next week
BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
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 Th ursday, 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. “Th is 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.”
Th e 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
Th e DOE is partnering with companies
like Apple to get students electronic
devices such as iPads. Th e fi rst batch of
25,000 iPads will be delivered to students
some time next week, according to a DOE
But the DOE is also working with internet
providers like Spectrum to guarantee
internet access for students.
As of Monday, March 16, Spectrum is
off ering 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
To enroll, or to ask for more information,
call 844-488-8395 or go to spectrum.
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. Th ey said they don’t have data caps
or hidden fees.
Some of these off erings also apply to
Other internet providers are also off ering
free Wi-Fi and hotspots in public
spaces including Comcast via their Xfi nity
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.
Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Offi ce
Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability on COVID-19 with Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza
at City hall on March 16.
cases continued to rise, they fi nally
announced the shutdown on Sunday,
All New York City public schools, the
nation’s largest school system with 1.1 million
students and 75,000 teachers, will be
closed until at least Monday, April 20 — but
could stay closed even longer. As a result,
students will begin remote (or online)
learning on Monday, March 23.
Although the logistics are still to-be-determined
after the Department of
Education conducts training for teachers
who will now switch to online educating,
Queens lawmakers and Community
Education Council (CEC) leaders saw it as
a necessary measure to contain the coronavirus
“Chorus of calls to close schools in NYC
became deafening. Mayor then closed
schools, but now questions, as well as potshots,
abound. Let’s pull together as New
Yorkers and help each other through this
pandemic. More diffi cult decisions, perhaps
curfew, will be needed,” Senator John
Liu said in a statement.
“I agree with Mayor DeBlasio’s decision
to close NYC schools until April 20th”
Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal said. “Th is
is going to be a diffi cult time ahead. Th is is
the right call. We will get through this.”
Senator Jessica Ramos told QNS that as a
public school mother, she’s glad they closed
the schools and is eager to see what remote
learning will look like.
Most importantly, Ramos wants students
and parents to take advantage of the Graband
Go program the DOE has in place so
students who depend on their schools’ daily
breakfast and lunch still have that option.
From 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. any and all students
can go to any school 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.
CEC 24 President Phil Wong told
QNS that all they’ve been doing since the
announcement is talking to parents and
spreading the information they have so far
via social media. Th ey were mainly waiting
to hear what the DOE plans to do about
Th e city announced it will open about
100 “regional enrichment centers” in all fi ve
boroughs on Monday, March 23, which will
be sites to accommodate school-aged children
of parents who are fi rst responders
(health care workers, and transit workers).
Th e centers will be open from 7:30 a.m.
until 6 p.m. on weekdays, with each room
allowing a maximum of 12 children.
CEC 27 President Willie Jones Sr. told
QNS that “it was prudent for them to shut
it down when they did, even though most
people wanted it to be earlier.” He said that
they had to work out at least some of the
logistics in order to do it.
“It’s better for students to stay home,”
Jones said. “We’re happy that students will
be able to keep learning from home, even
though it’ll be an inconvenience for many
but the DOE is working to give them the
resources they need. We’re happy they
won’t miss out on so much education.”