NYC DOE launches program to provide hybrid and full virtual pathways for 200 9th graders this fall


Stuyvesant High School | Photo by kidfly182 via Wikimedia Commons

NEW YORK – The New York City Department of Education (DOE) has launched a program offering students a new way of learning through Hybrid and Virtual schooling pathways. The new initiative, announced by Schools Chancellor David C. Bank, is called, A School Without Walls Program, which gives students the independence of remote learning while grounding their education in an array of individualized, interdisciplinary, project-based learning and internship opportunities.

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is abundantly clear that our education system needs to work for our young people in a way that it never has before. This virtual academy is about giving our students the freedom in their learning to explore their interests, learn outside of the box, lean into their talents, and use our city’s incredible resources as their classroom,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “I’m proud to be able to provide virtual and hybrid learning pathways to rising 9th graders this coming fall, and to meet our students where they are with the tools they need to excel.”

To apply, interested families and students should select A School Without Walls Program Hybrid or Virtual pathway by starring it in their MySchools accounts. The deadline for application is Wednesday, July 6th, and families will be notified of lottery results by mid-July. Waitlist offers will be made to families on a rolling basis.

Interested students will choose between a Hybrid learning model and a Virtual model, with 100 seats available in each distinct pathway. Both pathways will be physically housed in DOE facilities, with teachers providing synchronous and asynchronous instruction from a fully equipped and operational classroom.

Hybrid and Virtual learning pathways

The Hybrid pathway blends in-person and remote learning opportunities for incoming 9th-grade high school students. This model supports students’ socio-emotional wellness while prioritizing individualized academic support both in-person and remotely. Students will attend classes in person on a half-day schedule at 131 Livingston Street in Brooklyn. They will then participate remotely by engaging in synchronous (live) and asynchronous (at their own pace) learning.

Meanwhile, the Virtual pathway will offer a fully remote program using an interdisciplinary, project-based model and deep and meaningful community building to ensure wellness and success in a virtual environment. Also, the virtual pathway will offer: daily synchronous attendance and advisory, everyday synchronous humanities or STEM sessions, and instructional sessions for social studies, science, health, and lab, art/music, and elective courses to support the academic and socio-emotional needs of incoming 9th graders.

All participating students will access these locations and the vital resources available at brick-and-mortar schools, such as counseling services. Students will receive a laptop at home and can visit the school site to troubleshoot any technological issues. Students also have the option to participate in virtual and in-person extracurricular activities, including arts and music programming, sports, and interest-based clubs and electives.

The Program moves beyond the classroom, giving students the freedom to design their own path to earning a high school diploma. Students will be encouraged to experience New York City and their local communities as their classrooms through internships, service learning, and place-based learning initiatives.

High school students participate in designing the Program

New York City Schools Chancellor David C. Banks | PDM File Photo

“The pandemic underscored the importance of reimagining the student experience for our children, giving them the opportunity to freely pursue their interests and passions as part of their high school journey. It is up to us as educators to meet students where they are with opportunities that empower them in their learning,” said Schools Chancellor David C. Banks. “We closely collaborated with students to design A School Without Walls Program and we are taking the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to reimagine school using innovative tools and practices. We are thrilled to be able to offer these new pathways in response to what we heard from our students and families.”

Following the pandemic, DOE said it became clear that the ways they educate young people needed to be reimagined to better support schools, students, and their needs during this time. With that in mind, A School Without Walls Program was established in close collaboration with students. With support from our partners at NYC Outward Bound Schools, A School Without Walls Program engaged NYC high school students in a year-long design journey that included a summer intensive and fall internship program to field test projects and intern-based curriculum, and which continued into the spring where student interns co-designed every aspect of the new program as part of the design team.

“As partners in the design phase of A School Without Walls Program it has been exciting to work with the design team to take the real-world learning and student-centered approach we use in our network schools to an innovative hybrid learning environment,” said Vanessa Rodriguez, CEO of NYC Outward Bound Schools.

The Department of Education is working closely with the New York State Education Department to finalize the necessary details to make these full programs schools that can graduate students. In the meantime, students will officially enroll in a traditional high school while participating in the A School Without Walls Program.

–With Ricky Rillera/PDM

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