City hopes new Outdoor Learning program will be a breath of fresh air

August 24, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
City hopes new Outdoor Learning program will be a breath of fresh air
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On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced the creation of Outdoor Learning, a citywide initiative for the 2020-21 school year – and Sunset Park is one of the neighborhoods where it will be prioritized.

The initiative will allow schools to hold classes in schoolyards, on adjacent streets and in nearby park space.

According to the mayor, Outdoor Learning is one of many tools the city is using to guarantee a safe reopening.

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“We are doing everything in our power to bring our kids back to school safely,” said de Blasio. “Outdoor Learning will give all of our children the quality education they deserve in a safe and socially distanced environment.”

“For the new school year, Outdoor Learning is the next step,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Working closely with the DOE and our agency partners, we will find and assess streets and other outdoor locations suitable for safely hosting students, prioritizing communities of color hit hardest by the pandemic.”

Beginning Monday, Aug. 24, school principals can submit a request for learning space in school-adjacent streets and nearby parks. Schools that wish to use their own on-site yards are also being asked to fill out the survey and notify the Dept. of Education. Proposals submitted by Friday, Aug. 28 will receive responses by Sept. 4. Additional requests can be submitted on a rolling basis.

All submissions will be reviewed by a working group comprised of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Sanitation, FDNY and NYPD. Schools must provide barriers and staffing to close any street.

“Allowing schools to use space outdoors to conduct classes enhances educational opportunities for all students during this time of social distancing,” said Assemblymember Felix Ortiz. “Outdoor Learning will provide an extension of the classroom, allowing students to move about more freely and breathe fresh air.”

“I applaud this creative use of public space,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus. “We must continue to listen to the concerns of parents, students and teachers and face these challenges as a community.”

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