This is our daily update following the reopening of NYC schools for Tuesday, October 6th, 2020.

Here's the latest:

Governor Andrew Cuomo offered his own version of closing schools in hot spots in a large swath of Brooklyn and Queens by adding a different three-tier model to the city’s plan—throwing an already-fraught school year into further chaos Tuesday.

The move comes as part of Cuomo’s Cluster Action Initiative to contain spiking rates of COVID-19 in certain parts of the state, including New York City. The initiative has guidelines for what businesses, religious houses, mass gatherings, dining, and schools can do under three different designations—red for most restrictive, then orange and yellow. He said in New York City there were two red zones in Queens and one in Brooklyn, covering the almost same area as the nine ZIP codes that Mayor Bill de Blasio has already identified as hot spots.

During his press conference, Cuomo shared a map that seems to show much of central Brooklyn as part of the red and orange zones— which call for all private and public schools to switch to remote learning.

A map of Brooklyn hotspots where schools in the red and orange zones will close and switch to remote learning.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Twitter

Another Queens hotspot where schools in the red and orange zones will go to full remote learning.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Twitter

The move comes after de Blasio repeatedly hailed the reopening of the city’s public school system as a hard-won success.

City Councilman Mark Treyger is the chair of the council’s Education Committee and said he was completely caught off-guard by Cuomo’s announcement.

“We did not have any heads-up notice about today's announcement, and I'm still trying to find out what exactly is the announcement, in terms of who was impacted, who was not impacted?” Treyger said.

He said Cuomo’s map lacked detail and any sense of guidance in helping his constituents.

“I have no sense of the boundaries,” Treyger said. “I don't even know how, for example, which schools to communicate with, which small businesses to communicate, which houses of worship that communicate, which PTA do we have to call? No one even knows anything right now.”

In the map above, these are the approximately 300 public and non-public schools plus 100 day care and pre schools closed in nine NYC ZIP codes identified as having clusters of virus outbreaks.

One thing Treyger did glean from Cuomo’s announcement was that the city’s random testing in school communities, where 10-20 percent of students and staff at each school are tested once a month, was not sufficient.

“It seemed to me that the governor wants a mandatory testing program,” Treyger said.

In a short statement, the head of the United Federation of Teachers union said they support additional testing.

"Testing is one of the keys to halting the spread of the virus, and the Governor’s plan for additional testing for schools will help us keep our students, educators and school communities safe," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the UFT, in an emailed statement.

The confusion is compounding an already difficult year, Treyger said.

“I feel really terrible for students, parents and educators who are feeling the brunt of all this,” he said. “It's up to the same people, principals, teachers, students, parents, to operationalize these plans, with very little information and inadequate support.”

Listen to Elizabeth Kim and Jessica Gould discuss Cuomo's plan with David Furst on WNYC:

Horace Mann School Going All-Remote After Multiple COVID-19 Cases

The Horace Mann School is switching to all-remote learning for its middle and upper division classes after “multiple” COVID-19 cases were reported, the Riverdale Press reported on Tuesday.

The private school had launched full-time in-person instruction on September 8th, with the middle and upper divisions holding outdoor classes on the school’s ample Bronx campus. While the school has three campuses, it’s the main campus on West 246th Street in Riverdale that will remain closed.

The outdoor class setup at Horace Mann.

Horace Mann / Flickr

The school “identified one case of COVID among its employees over the weekend. Three more were found on Monday, including two in the physical education department and one in college counseling, head of school Thomas Kelly said in an email to parents Monday night,” Bloomberg reported.

A voicemail left with administrators at Horace Mann was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Heading back to school on October 1, 2020

50% Of NYC Public Students Have Opted Into Remote Learning

12 p.m. Over 503,000 NYC public school students are now enrolled in 100% remote learning—half the entire school population.

The Department of Education on Monday released the latest enrollment numbers through October 2nd. Students were automatically placed into the blended learning model—a mix of in-person and remote learning—unless their families selected the entirely remote option. Families whose children are in hybrid learning can opt into 100% remote learning at any time; students can only move from remote to hybrid learning at certain times, pending school capacity.

Initially, in mid-August, about 304,000 students had selected fully remote learning.

There are currently 20 school districts where 50% or more of the students are in remote learning; one district, 26 in Queens, is at 64% remote learning:

Minorities are also opting into remote learning at much higher rates than whites: 67% of all Asian students are learning remotely, while 48% of Black students and 48% of Hispanic students are in remote learning; 35% of white students are in remote learning.

Another observation from the DOE data, which includes an "economic needs index": Generally, the poorer a district is, the lower the number of kids going remote, but over time, as all districts are going more remote, the association is flattening: