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Low attendance seen in many reopened NYC schools: data

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While Mayor de Blasio trumpets his school reopening as a major triumph, the number of students showing up in buildings each day still totals less than 15 percent of all kids in the system, attendance data obtained by The Post show.

Last week, 488 high schools joined elementary and middle schools now open for students in “blended learning” schedules, a mix of in-person and online classes.  

But only 14,312 high-school kids came into buildings on Tuesday — 5 percent of the 282,000 enrolled. Another 3,040 who were supposed to be in school skipped classes that day — an absentee rate of 17.5 percent, according to internal Department of Education records.

Overall, daily attendance in 1,619 open schools hit a weekly high of 129,982 students on Tuesday. Another 12,309 were no-shows Tuesday, according to DOE data posted internally that evening.

Students walk to Hillside Arts & Letters Academy in Jamaica, Queens on March 25, 2021.
Students walk to Hillside Arts & Letters Academy in Jamaica, Queens on March 25, 2021.
Stephen Yang for New York Post

That’s only 14.5 percent of the total DOE register, which has dropped to 890,828 students since last year, when more than a million kids were on the rolls, the records reveal.

Thousands of students have switched to charters, parochial and other private schools, or moved out of the city since the COVID-19 pandemic threw the DOE into turmoil.

Despite repeated requests, the DOE has not released attendance numbers.

Last week, some high schools seemed eerily vacant.

About 8 am Thursday morning, only a handful of teens trickled into the main entrance at Brooklyn Tech, a specialized high school with nearly 5,900 registered students. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio leaves the Bronx School for Law Government & Justice High School on March 22, 2021.
Mayor Bill de Blasio leaves the Bronx School for Law Government & Justice High School on March 22, 2021.
Matthew McDermott for NY Post

At Forest Hills HS in Queens, “It’s a ghost town. It’s depressing,” said social studies teacher Jordan Pincus. “There’s nobody in the hall, nobody walking around. There’s just nothing happening, no activity.”

Less than 50 of the registered 3,745 students came each day last week, records show.

Every kid in the building takes classes on laptops with their teachers working remotely. Pincus teaches all his 160 students remotely four days a week, and supervises classrooms in person once a week.

“We’re never teaching when we’re in the building.” Pincus said. “We’re just babysitting.”

Last week, Pincus supervised two classrooms. In one, only three of nine students on the roster came in. In the other, just one of eight students showed up.

Brooklyn Tech High School located at 29 Fort Greene Place in Fort Greene Brooklyn.
A student has their temperature checked at Brooklyn Tech High School on March 25, 2021.
A student has their temperature checked at Brooklyn Tech High School on March 25, 2021.
Paul Martinka for New York Post

One 9th-grader who attends in-person called it “disappointing” that “any random teacher” supervises the room. She has never asked the supervisor for help.

“If you can have teachers sit in a class, you have them teach in a class,” the 14-year -old told The Post.

Wearing a mask, she stays in the same classroom all day with three other students — each  taking different courses remotely. She doesn’t even know their names.

Still, she’s happy to walk to and from school, and learn on her laptop in a classroom instead of in her bedroom. “I just enjoy being anywhere else but home,” she said.

Hillside Arts & Letters Academy in Jamaica, Queens on March 25, 2021.
Hillside Arts & Letters Academy in Jamaica, Queens on March 25, 2021.
Stephen Yang for New York Post

Most instruction is live at nearby Queens Metropolitan HS, which serves about 1,100 kids in Forest Hills, Glendale and Middle Village. Two groups of about 165 students each take turns attending classes in person two days a week, and all kids can come once a week for tutoring, counseling and clubs.. 

“Metro” teachers instruct both in-person and remote students simultaneously — a practice their union has frowned upon.

“It’s the closest to normalcy I can get right now,” senior Yani Barrientos, 17, told The Post. “I get to see my friends and teachers, and have a little interaction.”

While in class, Yani still tunes into Zoom, so when she takes part in a discussion or asks a question, the remote students hear her, and she hears them.

 Yani Barriento is a senior at Queens Metropolitan High School.
Yani Barriento is a senior at Queens Metropolitan High School.
Photos provided

When asked at a press conference last week how many students citywide are getting live classroom instruction, Mayor de Blasio gave no answer. A DOE spokesman did not respond to the question.

The DOE has reported only attendance percentages, which can be misleading. 

For instance, Hillside Arts & Letters Academy, a Jamaica high school with 452 students, reported 100% attendance on Tuesday — which meant all five students enrolled in blended learning came in.

World Academy for Total Community Health HS in East New York, which has a register of 163 students, had the fewest students in blended learning that day. Of four kids counted in person, two were marked absent — a 50 percent attendance rate, the data show.

Overall, high schools showed the lowest in-school numbers.

Social Studies teacher Jordan Pincus outside Forest Hills High School.
Social Studies teacher Jordan Pincus outside Forest Hills High School.
Helayne Seidman for New York Post

On Tuesday, elementary schools, which reopened last December, tallied 69,515 students, with 4,302 absent. Middle schools, which reopened last month, reported 21,320 students in person, with 1,951 absent. K-8 schools counted 13,084 students in person, 1,037 absent.

DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer called the DOE data “extremely preliminary,” because some schools entered no attendance numbers by the day’s end.

On Tuesday, 459 of the 1,619 schools showed zero in-person attendance, including 78 that failed to enter any attendance data, the records show. 

“We’re proud of our citywide in-person average attendance rate of 91 percent this week,” Styer said, giving no numbers to back it up.

Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter
Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

The DOE has opened a new “opt-in window” until April 7 for parents of students at all levels to switch from fully-remote to blended learning through June.

De Blasio said Friday that at least 25,000 students had already signed up to return to classrooms up to five days a week, as the CDC lowered its recommended social distance among students and staff from 6 feet to 3 feet. .

“I think a lot of parents are going to want to come back,” the mayor said, but he added “there’ll be hundreds of thousands of kids who are not ready and their families are not ready until September.”



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Suspect arrested in fatal Brooklyn stabbing

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Police have apprehended a suspect in the fatal December stabbing of a Brooklyn man, cops said on Saturday.

The suspect, John Headley, 32, also of Brooklyn, was taken into custody Friday and charged with murder and weapons possession for the Dec. 12 knifing of Ken Baird, 37, police said.

Baird was stabbed multiple times in the chest following a dispute on Crown Street near Utica Avenue in Crown Heights at about 6:40 p.m., police said.

EMS transported Baird to King County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, cops said.

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Man dies after jumping from Staten Island Ferry

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A 53-year-old man died Saturday after jumping from the Staten Island Ferry into the chilly waters of New York Harbor, police said.

NYPD Harbor launch officers pulled the man out of the water after responding to reports of a jumper near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan at around 2 p.m.

“He jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock,” an NYPD spokesman told The Post. He jumped off the Ferryboat Andrew J. Barberi, police said.

The unidentified victim was removed to Pier 11 and transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 3:10 p.m.

A newsstand worker said there were “about 50 or so emergency people” at Pier 11 following a valiant effort — which included CPR — to save the man’s life.

Ferry1

An NYPD spokesman says the 53-year-old man “jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock.”

Michael Dalton

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The 53-year-old man was transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Michael Dalton

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Kemp Lashes M.L.B. as Republicans Defend Georgia’s Voting Law

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Mr. Kemp, who is gearing up to run for re-election in 2022, has striven to re-enter the good graces of Republican voters after becoming a central political target of former President Donald J. Trump because of his refusal to help Mr. Trump overturn the state’s election results last year. A former secretary of state of Georgia who has his own record of decisions that made voting harder for the state’s residents, he is again a key G.O.P. voice leading the charge on the issue.

On Saturday, he repeatedly tried to paint the league’s decision as driven by Stacey Abrams, the voting rights advocate and former Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia who is seen as likely to challenge Mr. Kemp again next year.

Ms. Abrams, one of the most prominent critics of Georgia’s voting law, has pushed back on calls for sports leagues and corporations to boycott the state. She said on Friday that she was “disappointed” baseball officials had pulled the All-Star Game but that she was “proud of their stance on voting rights.”

In defending the law in Georgia, Mr. Kemp singled out two Democratically controlled states, New York and Delaware, and compared their voting regulations with the new law in Georgia. Those states do not offer as many options for early voting as Georgia does, but they have also not passed new laws instituting restrictions on voting.

“In New York, they have 10 days of early voting,” Mr. Kemp said (New York actually has nine). “In Georgia, we have a minimum of 17, with two additional Sundays that are optional in our state. In New York, you have to have an excuse to vote absentee. In Georgia, you can vote absentee for any reason.”



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