NYC’s new hybrid high school program could be fully remote by 2023

Distance learning might be here to stay.

New York City is rolling out two virtual learning programs for high school students — with the goal of turning them into full-fledged distance schools by 2023.

The new initiative, called “A School Without Walls,” will provide hybrid and virtual learning to an increasing 200 ninth graders this fall.

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s abundantly clear that our education system needs to work for our young people like never before,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement.

“This virtual academy aims to give our students the freedom in their learning to explore their interests, learn outside the box, lean into their talents, and use our city’s incredible resources as a classroom. .”

Officials described the program as going “beyond the classroom,” giving students more freedom and flexibility to earn a high school diploma.

Students will also be officially enrolled in a traditional high school, while the DOE is working with the state to turn virtual academies into full-time, degree-granting schools.

Mayor Eric Adams said the virtual academy will provide students with “freedom” in their learning.
Paul Martinca

“The pandemic has underscored the importance of reinventing the student experience for our children, giving them the opportunity to freely pursue their interests and passions as part of their educational journey,” said Schools Chancellor David Banks.

“It’s up to us as educators to meet students where they are with opportunities that empower them in their learning,” he added.

Both programs will be housed in school facilities, where teachers will provide live and pre-recorded instruction using DOE equipment and classrooms.

Students will also have access to these facilities, for counseling services, in-person clubs, sports and electives. The DOE said it will also provide laptops and families will be able to visit physical sites for technology support.

Hybrid students will attend school in person for half days in downtown Brooklyn and then complete their classes online.

Meanwhile, students who opt for the all-virtual model will witness real-time engagement and guidance, and take daily synchronous classes in humanities, math, and science.

This week’s announcement comes after months in which Banks has shown interest in virtual learning since the start of his term as chancellor.

“I see it as a place of real innovation,” Banks said in a Wednesday interview with News 12. “We can really test a lot of different theories around technology and education.”

School Chancellor David C Banks speaks at a press conference.
School Chancellor David Banks said parents have expressed interest in fully remote learning.
Matthew McDermott

“For example, if someone is a great physics teacher and your school doesn’t have a physics teacher, why can’t we provide virtual access to a physics teacher who is on the other side of the city for these students?

“There are people around the world who could be teachers in our schools virtually.”

The DOE also seemed ready to expand the programs to more students, if families are interested.

“I’m looking for the response and the interest – when I find out how many parents are really interested in this,” Banks said.

The city’s virtual academies reflect a growing trend of more localities offering virtual options.

An analysis of the nation’s 20 largest school districts by the educational association Chalkbeat found that almost all will offer distance learning courses this fall — and at least half are offering more full-time virtual options than before the pandemic. These include Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia, and suburban Atlanta.

In New York, officials said “A School Without Walls” was designed in collaboration with students and responds to their requests and those of their families.

The program operated as a pilot project with the NYC Outward Bound Schools organization and included summer and fall internship opportunities to field test potential projects and career opportunities. In the spring, student interns helped the design team shape the virtual academies, according to the DOE.

The deadline to apply is Wednesday, July 6. Students will be selected by lottery and notified of offers by mid-July.