Plan Ahead & Get Vaccinated Before School Starts

In early July, we were elated to welcome students to classrooms for Summer Rising, the city’s free summer academic and enrichment program. Children were clearly excited to be back with their teachers and friends, and those feelings have only grown over the past few weeks.
In an elementary school in East Harlem, youngsters proudly displayed the solar-powered ovens they’d built to cook s’mores. In a school in Chinatown, students gasped with joy over the “magical” science experiments performed by Jason Latimer of YouTube’s Impossible Science channel.
And in a school in the Bronx, students dove into their lessons and demonstrated an outdoor mindfulness activity.
Experiences like these are reflected in the smiles of hundreds of thousands of children who are in school to learn, play, connect, and grow this summer. Both children and their parents are grateful to have this bridge to the next school year.
We see the first day of school – Monday, September 13 – as a homecoming. In fact, it comes shortly after NYC Homecoming Week, a five-borough celebration of the city’s resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we think ahead to the fall, the health and safety of students and school communities are at the forefront of our planning. We are asking New Yorkers to help with a crucial part of this work: get vaccinated.
The vaccine for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 involves a two-dose regimen, and it takes two weeks from the second shot for someone to be considered fully vaccinated. So, think of this as your doctor’s orders: Schedule your vaccine today if you have not already.
Safely and fully reopening schools this fall is a milestone for our city, and we are eager to see students back in their school communities. We are doing everything in our power to create a safe learning environment, from disinfecting every school, to re-configuring classrooms and improving ventilation, to stocking up on face masks and hand sanitizer.
And last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that school staff must show a one-time proof of vaccination or weekly COVID-19 tests. The new requirement recognizes that the single most important way we can help our children go back to learning, and save lives, is with vaccination.
As parents ourselves, we know the decision to vaccinate is important, and we would do anything to protect our children. The vaccine is safe and very effective. Over 250,000 young New Yorkers have now gotten the shot.
At school, vaccination allows children to be in the classroom, participate in afterschool activities and sports, and gather with friends safely. It also provides a more stable learning environment. For example, students who are considered fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine.
Getting the shot has never been easier in New York City. Access to vaccination is widely available in all five boroughs, and the city is offering a new $100 incentive for anyone (including children) who gets their first dose at a city-run site.
Nearly all New Yorkers live within a half-mile of a public vaccination site, and everyone is eligible to request and receive at-home vaccination.
Pediatricians and other health care providers can also help answer questions, and many are able to give the COVID-19 vaccine at a back-to-school check-up, along with other routine immunizations. If you need a provider, call 1-844-NYC-4NYC and you will be transferred.
We’re so excited to welcome all New York City students back into classrooms in September. Because of vaccination, our buildings will soon be fully open and our young people will be learning. We deeply appreciate the partnership of the city’s families and the commitment to keeping our school communities safe and healthy.

Meisha Porter is chancellor of the Department of Education and Dr. Dave Chokshi, is commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

A Summer of Renewal for our Students

This year has demanded that all New York City families and students do so many things differently. They’ve had to think differently, learn differently, and connect differently with teachers, peers, and the whole school community.
At the Department of Education, we know we also have to think differently as we look towards the summer. For the first time ever, we are inviting all students to join us for a free, fun-filled, enriching summer program: Summer Rising.
This year, we will serve any student in grades K-12 in July and August who wants to participate, and I am excited to be partnered with the Department of Youth & Community Development to reimagine what summer can be.
Our children’s days will be filled with innovative academic support, social-emotional learning, and engaging enrichment activities. These programs will be designed by school teams in partnership with local community-based organizations and offered in hundreds of sites across all five boroughs.
After all the trauma and disruptions caused by the pandemic over the past 15 months, our children need a chance to reboot their education in fun and supportive ways as we approach the full reopening of our schools in September.
It is time to begin regaining what the pandemic took away. Summer Rising is an opportunity to do just that, creating spaces for students to learn, grow, play, and explore the city around them – from field trips to Central Park and museums to dance and art classes.
Summer Rising will also provide an enormous relief to families by keeping children safe, supported, and productive this summer.
After enduring months when so many of our students were isolated from their teachers and peers, the opportunity to rebuild those face-to-face relationships will do so much to support their healing process and prepare them for returning to school in the fall.
All K–8 students participating in programs will have access to academic classes and enrichment programming, including field trips, arts activities and outdoor recreation.
Students will also engage in daily community building and social emotional learning activities. We know some students with disabilities may require additional supports to participate in Summer Rising, and those supports will be provided as needed.
In addition, Summer Rising is a chance for high school students to complete courses in progress, make up credits to march towards graduation, and participate in academic acceleration opportunities.
They will also be able to engage in important work experience and internship opportunities, like the Summer Youth Employment Program.
As always, health and safety remain a top priority. Summer Rising will follow the rigorous health protocols that succeeded in keeping our schools among the safest places in the city this school year.
To support these efforts, parents will need to complete a testing consent form for their child so we can keep everyone healthy and safe,
Summer Rising will be the start of revitalizing the powerful joy of learning together as we head toward a strong reopening of our schools and warm homecoming for our students in the fall. I strongly urge the families of every child who can join us over the summer to sign up now.
To learn more about the options available for your child or to sign up, go to All programs are free, in-person, and have something to offer for everyone.

Meisha Porter is New York City Schools Chancellor.

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