This is our daily update following the reopening of NYC schools for Wednesday, November 4th, 2020.

Here's the latest:

New data released by the city Department of Education on Tuesday shows tens of thousands of students with disabilities received only a portion of the required specialized education programming needed in the months before schools transitioned to remote learning in March. While the majority of these students did receive specialized education, advocates for special education say it's not enough. It's also uncertain how much the pandemic impacted the number of students receiving special education once the school system transitioned to remote learning.

The DOE's report for the 2019-2020 school year only includes data from September 2019 until schools transitioned to full remote learning on March 16th this year.

The data shows that 83% of students, or 151,572, in special education programs fully received their required services in New York City public schools. 28,254, or 15% of students, received only part of the required programming, which includes prescribed classroom settings or services like speech and occupational therapy. Close to 2% of students, or 3,424, with disabilities received no special education programs.

The numbers were a slight improvement from the same time during the 2018-2019 school year, which saw 80.4% of students fully receiving special education programming.

The report does not say how much the pandemic disrupted special education programming for these students, though the DOE emphasized that they were prioritized when it came to receiving devices for remote learning. The DOE also reported that more than 3 million sessions of remote counseling, speech-language, occupational, and physical therapy were held during the pandemic. The report — required by the City Council to be released annually — does not specify the percentage of special education students taking part in the remote programming.

City education officials acknowledged that they have more work to do to meet the needs of special education students during the pandemic.

“We’ll continue to have a laser-focus on providing students with disabilities a high-quality education, both in-person and remotely,” said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza in a statement.

Even if the city has made some improvement over the years, more could still be done, said Lori Podvesker, director of disability and education policy at the non-profit group INCLUDEnyc.

"I think as a city we get desensitized to the scope of the issues,” Podvesker said, arguing that remote instruction is no substitute for legally-mandated services.

Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York, said her organization is pushing the city to more directly measure, and address, the gaps in services and learning for special education students during the pandemic.

"We are obviously worried that the kids that were making progress are now going to see regression in their development,” Moroff said, adding that city data shows a nearly 27% decline in the number of initial referrals for special education evaluation. “We’re worried that some kids who should be getting services for the first time this fall are not, because they did not get evaluations.”