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What To Do About Part-Time School? NYC Announces Free Child Care For 100,000 Students

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will offer free child care to 100,000 students when schools reopen for part-time in-person instruction in September. Here, children play at Manhattan's High Line park on Thursday.
Frank Franklin II
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that the city will provide free child care to 100,000 students when schools reopen in September.

Last week the city released its plan for children to return to public school classrooms one to three days a week, depending on each school's capacity for social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Students will take classes remotely on the other days.

"This pandemic has been hugely disruptive in the lives of our kids, which is why we are working to provide as much in person learning as possible. Working families are being pulled in many directions trying to make a plan for the fall, and we are going to help them every step of the way by providing free childcare options," de Blasio said in a statement.

The city aims to provide relief for working parents who either can't afford to stay home or can't find child care for the days that students aren't in school for in-person learning. The program will serve students from age 3 through eighth grade. There will be 50,000 available seats each day, with the idea that those seats will serve 100,000 students because of alternating in-person days at school.

Where will this child care be? The city says it is working to identify space in schools, community centers, libraries and elsewhere. The goal is to have as many seats as possible available when the school year begins and to add more spaces over time, according to the city.

A survey by the city's Department of Education of about 400,000 parents found that roughly 75% want to send their kids back to school in the fall. In addition to part-time in-school schedules, families also have an all-remote option.

Demand for child care will likely outstrip supply. New York City is the largest school district in the U.S., with more than 1.1 million students.

De Blasio called reopening the schools "the single biggest piece" of the city's recovery from the pandemic.

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Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.