With the traditional school structure upended by the coronavirus, the New York City Council on Thursday passed two bills intended to make the Department of Education accountable for transparency on attendance and remote learning metrics.

The bills come after the DOE released data showing attendance has dropped since remote learning started in the spring, when schools closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, the five-year average attendance rate in New York City’s public schools was 91.6%. In April, right after schools went remote, it dropped to 85.9%. This fall, it was 88.6%, though that number slipped a little after schools shut down again in November.

The attendance bill, which is sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, will mandate the DOE to publish monthly remote learning attendance data, broken down by school-level information, grade, ethnicity and other factors.

"Monitoring student engagement is an essential way to determine the effectiveness of remote learning—whether fully remote or hybrid, every student will be using remote learning in the coming months," Williams said in a statement. "Tracking student attendance rates allow us to hold the DOE accountable for ensuring our students have the ability to access all of their classes remotely.”

Williams opposed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to open schools for in-person learning this fall, and said the funding for blended learning for an estimated 190,000 kids back in school buildings could be better spent on improving remote learning for the system’s entire 1.1 million student body. “The money and energy the Administration has spent in rushing to re-open, and then close, in-person classes could have been better spent improving remote learning and fulfilling our obligation to provide students with safe and equitable education. This bill will help to correct that error and imbalance,” Williams said.

The other bill, sponsored by Councilman Mark Treyger, will require the DOE to report on metrics like language access and support for English language learners, remote instruction for incarcerated teenagers, and the distribution of internet-enabled devices from the DOE to students. The acquisition of enough devices for kids to attend remote learning continues to be a problem for the DOE.

“Once schools shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic we swiftly shifted to remote instruction; however, the DOE has yet to provide a breakdown of how many students were receiving live instruction,” Treyger said in a statement. “We need a more granular look into the remote learning experience, to better understand its impact on students and faculty. We need to ensure that every student is receiving a high-quality education, whether in-person or remote, so that vulnerable student populations are not left behind.”

The DOE said it supports the measures. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have been focused on making sure every student has what they need to succeed in remote learning. We support this legislation and have provided City Council with many of these data points since the fall,” DOE spokesperson Danielle Filson responded in an email statement.

Once signed by de Blasio, the laws will take effect immediately.