How NYC moved the country’s largest school district online during the coronavirus pandemic

Lauren Feiner:

On March 6, New York City high school principal Matt Willie was already preparing for the worst. After watching a news report that said the city’s Department of Education was preparing to close public schools amid the coronavirus crisis, Willie texted his assistant principal: “Prepare for the apocalypse.”

Willie said his school, University Neighborhood High School on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, was about as prepared as he could hope, having started disaster prep about a week before the DOE gave its final judgement. During that time, Willie and his staff took inventory of in-school laptops, surveyed students about whether they had devices and internet connections at home (“just in case”) and had already distributed some laptops to students whose parents said they were no longer comfortable sending them to school. 

But when the DOE finally announced school closures, staff still had to scramble. The decision came down on a Friday, upending the school’s plans to ask students to sign out laptops from their third-period teachers.

I suggested to several Madison Superintendents that teachers and staff receive a stipend to purchase and maintain an internet connected device (cellular iPad would be my choice) and begin to interact with everyone using this device. Further, Apple’s assistive efforts are substantial.

This occurred during Infinite Campus evaluation and implementation meetings. I wonder what the teacher/staff utilization data looks like today?

Infinite Campus – or similar – was for many years an expensive, missed opportunity.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has apparently made little progress online– in 2020.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.