Messages from NYC School's Chancellor
A Welcome Back Message for Families from Chancellor David C. Banks
I’m thrilled to welcome you to the 2023-24 school year! Thank you for choosing New York City Public Schools. I hope you all are returning from the summer break refreshed and ready to jump into an exciting new year of learning.
For me, nothing compares to September and the first exhilarating week of classes—when I get to visit schools throughout the five boroughs, meet parents, and welcome students and teachers back. When I get to see the hope and promise in children's faces and feel that familiar nervous energy that charges the air with electricity. When I get to watch students tap into their curiosity and creativity, and experience awesome “aha” moments as they challenge themselves academically. When I get to see children’s brilliance and unique abilities, knowing that their families and teachers will inspire them to reach even greater heights with each passing day.
To ensure we set up our students for success, this September I am doubling down on our mission: to offer every child a bright start...and a clear pathway to a bold future. This means a year full of strong academics, enriching sports and arts programs, healthy and delicious school meals, safe, inclusive classrooms, and so much more.
NYC Reads, our groundbreaking initiative to ensure that all students are proficient readers, continues to lead the charge. This initiative features new, evidence-based curricula rooted in the “science of reading” and supplemented with phonics—the proven method for teaching children to be confident readers. Literacy truly is the foundation for all learning and is essential to clearing a path to our students’ bold futures.
Whether that future includes college, technical training, or an apprenticeship, we will make sure that all students graduate with a plan to achieve long-term economic security—and equipped with the tools, resources, and support they need to unlock their full potential and open every door of opportunity.
You can find important information and updates about academic policies, health and safety protocols, and more at schools.nyc.gov/bts2023. To download a printable Back to School checklist, please visit schools.nyc.gov/btschecklist.
September is just the beginning of what I know will be a truly exceptional school year. Thank you for your partnership. Thank you for entrusting your children’s education to us. I’m so excited about all the great things we’ll accomplish together this year!
A Town Hall Event
The Community Education Council for District 32 Presents: A Town Hall Event with Chancellor David C. Banks
Tuesday, February 28th
6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
194 Harman Street
Brooklyn, NY 11237
Proof of vaccination is still required for all visitors entering school buildings.
Town Hall will also be live-streamed. Please register ↗️ for this event.
Don’t miss this excellent opportunity. Issues and concerns will be addressed.
English Conference Line: Dial 929 205 6099 (Local NYC) and enter Webinar ID: 835 9700 6395
Spanish Conference Line: Dial 888-475-4499 (Toll-Free) and enter PIN 885-2262-3501
January 13, 2023
One of our core pillars is to engage you as our true partners. You are the experts on your children and their education, and your involvement can help them thrive inside and outside of school. That is why I am encouraging you to take a leadership role in our public schools by applying to run for a seat on one of the City’s 36 Community or Citywide Education Councils (CCEC).
The Councils are made up of elected and appointed parent volunteers just like you. If you win a seat, you will play a vital role in shaping important decisions in your school district. For example, you could approve zoning lines or review improvements to your child’s school building, as happened recently in the northwestern portion of District 15.
To raise enrollment and promote more diversity, Community Education Council (CEC) 15 members worked with New York City Public Schools, education researchers, and community leaders to develop an elementary school rezoning plan. The CEC also successfully advocated for a much needed middle school option in the Red Hook, Brooklyn neighborhood. These are the kind of policy changes that make a real difference in the lives of our children.
To bring even more diversity to our Education Councils, I’m excited to share that for the first time ever, families with a child in a District 75 school or program can vote for a District 75 representative to sit on each local Council. This is a big win for our families, and I encourage eligible parents to run for a designated District 75 seat.
Our Family and Community Engagement team is providing a host of resources to walk you through the election and voting process. These include information sessions via Zoom in different languages and more details on the structure and roles of the Education Councils, eligibility guidelines, key
dates, and Frequently Asked Questions. You can access all of this and submit your application at schools.nyc.gov/elections2023 ↗️ through February 13.
As parents, I believe we all share a loving mission: to help young people flourish and succeed. When you run for a seat on an Education Council, you commit to being a voice for change in your child’s education. When you lend your voice to the important issues affecting our schools by voting and sharing your opinions with your CCEC representatives, you show your communities that you are part of the solution. Please consider running for a Council seat and help put all our students on a path to the bright futures they deserve.
David C. Banks
New York City Schools Chancellor
December 19, 2022
Thank you for choosing New York City Public Schools and for trusting us to do right by your children. As I complete my first full year as Chancellor, I am filled with so much gratitude, admiration, and respect for you. Thank you for your unwavering partnership and the sacrifices you make to support your child’s education.
Before we close out the year, I want to acknowledge some of the great things we have accomplished together, from enhancing our literacy programs and simplifying our admissions processes to reimagining special education and creating new pathways to launch all our students into the bright futures they deserve.
Every day I’ve been in our schools this year has reinforced the brilliant promise of our children. I see it in the light in their eyes, the warmth of their smiles, and the strength of their spirit; it always energizes and inspires me. I will take their promise and their energy with me into the new year, as we keep a sharp focus on our mission: to ensure each student graduates on a pathway to a rewarding career and long-term economic security—and is equipped to be a positive force for change.
I know that the holidays mean different things to different people, but I believe that no matter what or how we observe, the holidays bring out the best in us. Now is the time that we pause to reconnect with the people we love. To appreciate all that is good in our lives and, of course, to reflect, relax, and celebrate. For me, the holidays are also about looking forward to the second half of the school year. Part of my job is to ensure that my team and I return in January full of energy and enthusiasm, ready to create even more pathways for our children to achieve their dreams.
I wish you a joyful holiday season and a healthy, prosperous new year, and I very much look forward to seeing you and your children in the new year.
David C. Banks
New York City Schools Chancellor
September 8, 2022
Welcome to the 2022–2023 school year!
As the father of four children, I still remember the excitement of September and my kids’ jitters over what the new school year would bring. Would they like their teachers? Would it be easy to make new friends? Would they do well in their classes? I reassured them that the adults in their school would cherish them as much as I did at home.
Now, as I prepare to experience my first “first day of school” as Chancellor, I am grateful for you and for our educators, who are as excited as I am to welcome your children back. I also appreciate that in sending your children into our classrooms, you are placing great trust in us—trust that we will challenge your children intellectually so they can live out their wildest dreams. Trust that we will keep them safe and help them grow as human beings. Trust that they will graduate with a pathway to a rewarding career and enjoy long-term economic security. Trust that we will teach your children how to be a positive force for change in our world.
I am committed to doing all of this—and more.
My team and I have spent the summer reimagining the student experience so that it better serves your children. Literacy, which is the foundational building block of all learning, will be a major focus this school year. We are transforming how we teach reading by implementing a high-quality, phonics-based literacy program in all elementary schools. We are extending learning beyond the four walls of the classroom, offering students regular visits to local museums, parks, and all the incredible resources our great city has to offer. At the same time, we are improving students’ digital learning experiences.
This year, we are also offering more of the learning opportunities you have requested, enhancing the way we serve all children. This includes an increase in Community Schools, Gifted & Talented programs, bilingual education programs, and programs to improve long-term academic outcomes for students with disabilities. Wellness and its role in student success is another priority you’ll be hearing more about.
I can’t write to families without recognizing you as the lifeblood of our school communities and our true partners in your child’s education. Be on the lookout for improved ways to access the information and support you need to help your children succeed. This will include expanded language access supports for families who speak languages other than English and more opportunities for us to work together.
Thank you for choosing NYC Public Schools. I know that there have been challenges, and I hope you agree that our schools stand ready to put all children on the path to the bright, bold futures they deserve. I encourage you to visit schools.nyc.gov/bts2022 ↗️ to find the most up-to-date information about the new school year.
As always, I am honored to partner with you to better serve our children. I truly believe that the best is yet to come. So, let’s get the 2022–2023 school year started!
David C. Banks
New York City Schools Chancellor
August 29, 2022
We’re excited to welcome you back to school on Thursday, September 8! As you prepare for the first day of school, we want to ensure that you’ve received New York City’s most up-to-date guidance on health and safety.
Reduce COVID-19 Risk
Get vaccinated! This is the best way to reduce COVID-19 risk.
We strongly encourage all eligible New Yorkers to stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots. To find a vaccine site near you, visit nyc.gov/vaccinefinder ↗️ or text your zip code to 438829. For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, visit nyc.gov/covidvaccine ↗️
Vaccination is still required for all visitors entering school buildings. This includes NYC Department of Education (DOE) employees; anyone who works in DOE buildings; and anyone participating in high-risk extracurricular activities, including Public School Athletic League (PSAL) sports. To learn more, please visit schools.nyc.gov/2022health ↗️
Wear masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Masks will be available at your school. We recommend wearing well-fitting masks when indoors, and when exposed to someone with COVID-19 in or outside of school. All students and staff are required to wear a mask when:
Entering the school medical room, nurse’s office, or school-based health center,
Returning to school (including traveling by school bus) between days 6 to 10 after a COVID positive test or, if earlier, after the onset of symptoms, and
Showing symptoms of COVID-19 at school.
Test for COVID-19. Starting on the first day of school, schools will offer home test kits to students and staff who may be at risk of exposure and students or staff experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. In addition, each staff member and student will receive four tests per month to take home. In-school PCR testing will not be a part of the 2022-23 school year.
Stay home if you are sick. If students and staff show any symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses, they should stay home and get tested for COVID-19. This year, you will not need to complete a Daily Health Screening to enter school buildings.
Isolate if you are COVID-19 positive. Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 5 days and can return to school on day 6 (masked through day 10) if they have no symptoms or if symptoms are improving. Be sure to report a positive case to your child’s school.
This year, schools will continue to follow CDC guidelines, using air purifiers and updated HVAC systems. Building ventilation will be monitored daily, and surfaces cleaned regularly.
Get Vaccinated Against Polio
Poliovirus has been identified in wastewater samples in New York City, following a case of polio identified in Rockland County. Everyone who is unvaccinated against polio — especially children — should get vaccinated immediately. Parents can check the records for their children here: myvaccinerecord.cityofnewyork.us/myrecord ↗️. Vaccination against polio is required to attend school in New York City.
If your child needs to get vaccinated against polio, make an appointment with your pediatrician or regular health care provider. If your doctor does not have the polio vaccine or you do not have a doctor, call 311. Children should get four doses of the poliovirus vaccine, starting at age 2 months. Anyone starting the vaccine after age 4 months should receive a total of three doses.
Find out more about protecting yourself and your children against polio at nyc.gov/health/polio ↗️.
Learn About Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus, usually spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with the sores of someone who has monkeypox. It can also be spread through contact with clothing or bedding, or from respiratory droplets during face-to-face contact. In this current monkeypox outbreak, the virus has spread mainly among adults during close contact, such as during sex, kissing, cuddling, and massage. It can cause sores that may look like pimples or blisters, be firm to the touch, and have a dip in the center. Some people also have flu-like symptoms.
Do not assume someone has monkeypox if they have a rash or sores. Most rashes and sores are not caused by the monkeypox virus. Sores are very common among children and are usually due to bug bites, acne, allergies, or other causes that are not contagious and do not require staying home from school, child care, or afterschool activities.
Children who have a new or unexplained rash or sores should be seen by the school nurse or by their health care provider. You can find more information on monkeypox at nyc.gov/monkeypox ↗️.
Get Ready to Go Back to School on Thursday, September 8!
As you and your child gear up for the first day of school, get off to a flying start with these suggestions. For more tips, read our Back to School Checklist at schools.nyc.gov/checklist ↗️.
Plan Ahead. Review the 2022-23 School Calendar at schools.nyc.gov/calendar ↗️ for information on upcoming events and closures throughout the year.
Stay Connected. Sign up for an NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) and update your emergency contact information at schools.nyc.gov/NYCSA ↗️.
June 22, 2022
After six months as your New York City Schools Chancellor, I feel enormous gratitude as we approach the end of the school year. In that short period of time, you helped me begin to realize my vision of empowering our families to be genuine partners in the decisions we make together for our students. Your input is shaping everything we are doing in our schools, and we can all see the difference!
Think back to when I first started on January 3, at the height of the Omicron variant surge, when our attendance rate was only 65 percent. We implemented a variety of measures to improve safety called Stay Safe, Stay Open. That included increased testing and offering highly successful vaccinations on-site for our students.
By the end of January and continuing since then, our attendance returned to nearly 90 percent. After more than two years of upheaval and trauma caused by the pandemic, our families, students, and staff deserve so much credit for persevering and enabling us to end this school year on such a high note!
All of the initiatives that we announced in recent months are the result of input from our families and will be developed in partnership with them. These include our improved literacy instruction and dyslexia interventions, violence interruption programming to improve safety, expanded access to gifted and talented programs, and a variety of new efforts to enable our high school students to gain skills valued in the workforce.
We are relying on our families because I have learned throughout my lifelong career as a New York City educator that the best ideas and most successful initiatives arise from conversations with families. You know the needs of your children and the strengths and weaknesses of your schools better than anyone. I have been preaching to everyone throughout our school system that they need to seriously engage with families and respond effectively to their concerns. No more imposing big changes without first seeking meaningful feedback from our families.
For those reasons, we are streamlining our school system and opening up clearer channels of communication with our leaders. That includes empowering our local district superintendents and school principals so that families can more directly and easily communicate with those in charge. In recent weeks, families across the city have had opportunities to meet at town halls with finalists for the 45 New York City public school superintendent positions to ensure that the most qualified and effective individuals fill those vital roles. Thanks to your feedback, I am confident that you will be excited about the leader of your district starting July 1; you can learn more at the NYC school's website. ↗️
I hope you’ll agree that we’re listening, we hear you, and together we’re building a new future for New York City schools! As you enjoy the summer, I hope that you and your children will take advantage of all the amazing cultural and recreational opportunities the city has to offer.
Have a safe and fun summer. The best is yet to come as we advance toward the 2022-23 school year!
David C. Banks
New York City Schools Chancellor