Remote learning likely to continue after the pandemic

A teacher conducts class remotely at One World Middle School at Edenwald in the Bronx.
A teacher conducts class remotely at One World Middle School at Edenwald in the Bronx.
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
A teacher conducts class remotely at One World Middle School at Edenwald in the Bronx.

Remote learning likely to continue after the pandemic

New York City prepares for the long haul.
October 23, 2020

Say goodbye to your snow days, kids. Remote learning – or at least some version of it – could be here to stay for the long run. At a Community Education Council town hall on Thursday night, New York City schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said virtual learning will, to some extent, stick around – even beyond the coronavirus pandemic. “Virtual learning, digital learning, mixed environments, digital content, digital supports, will always be part of the new normal as we educate students,” Carranza said, noting that there may not be a need for snow days in the future.

While New York City’s experiment in remote learning has included the distribution of more than 300,000 iPads for students to connect to online classes, the effort has so far failed to reach some students, including some living in homeless shelters with nonexistent or subpar Wi-Fi access. While relying on data-enabled iPads is intended to circumvent the problem of Wi-Fi access, it’s an imperfect solution that doesn’t fundamentally address the digital divide that allows some students to succeed while others fall behind, critics say.

When talking about the possibility of no more snow days in the future, Carranza noted that on the other side of the pandemic, some of these challenges will have been addressed, and the city will have universal Wi-Fi. It’s true that New York City has a plan to achieve universal broadband internet access throughout the city – and plans to prioritize connecting public housing – but that could take years to finish.

Annie McDonough
Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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