The impending childcare program created by the city for kids of working parents has launched a survey this week that hints at who will be prioritized for seats when schools reopen.
Dubbed Learning Bridges, the program promises childcare for up to 50,000 kids at a time, alternating days to serve 100,000 kids in total, in places like libraries and cultural centers, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio when he announced the program on July 16th.
Children from 3 years old through 8th grade are eligible to participate on their remote learning days, under the supervision of staffers.
New information published by the city online says the program will “be operated by community-based organizations and other partners; provide opportunities for children to connect to their remote learning activities; include time for art, recreation, and other age-appropriate activities; follow the same rigorous health and safety precautions as schools.”
A survey emailed to families this week seemed to indicate a priority on accommodating the children of teachers and other staffers in the Department of Education who might be working full-time when schools reopen.
The survey asked for information on whether students are the children of DOE staffers, first responders, or other essential workers such as hospital employees, or lived in public housing or temporary housing -- possible signs of who will get the first seats in the program’s initial rollout.
De Blasio has promised the Learning Bridges program will expand beyond its initial capacity to serve more students, and the city is still searching for spaces under the supervision of Melanie Hartzog, the city’s Director Office of Management and Budget.
Even with 100,000 spots, the capacity of the program will be far smaller than the projected 700,000 students expected to participate in blended learning this fall.
After New York City schools were shut down March 15th to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and the school system switched to remote learning, the city established Regional Enrichment Centers around the city to provide childcare for essential workers. Those centers will close once in-person school starts this fall, the DOE has said.