Only about 15 percent of families who opted for classroom learning this year have consented to COVID-19 tests for their kids so far, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza revealed Friday.
As of last week, roughly 489,000 kids are still enrolled in the Department of Education’s blended instruction model that has them alternate between remote and building learning.
Of those, 72,000 have submitted forms that give the DOE the right to test them for the coronavirus.
Carranza revealed the figure during a City Council hearing after being pressed by education committee chairman Mark Treyger.
Treyger raised concerns about the outstanding forms and asked how many schools did not have enough to meet minimum testing thresholds.
Carranza said he would provide that figure at a later date.
Some parents have expressed reservations about the process. The DOE will not allow families to accompany their kids during the in-school tests or accept results from private doctors.
The department stressed Friday that consent forms are still being submitted and that they expect the number to grow in the coming weeks.
Schools are aiming to test between 10 and 20 percent of their population – including staff and students – each month to guard against coronavirus outbreaks.
The DOE was not able to say how many consent denials were submitted but Carranza said the number was “very minimal.”
“This is a rolling process,” he said. “There are a lot of consent forms coming in on a daily basis.”
Dr. Jay Varma, Mayor de Blasio’s senior adviser for public health, said that 7,257 students and teachers have been tested in the past three days and that 15 tested positive for COVID-19 — an infection rate of 0.2 percent.
“That is a very large sample size relative to the proportion of students actually attending in-person learning during that period,” he said.
Carranza also revealed Friday that parents would finally be given guidance on several key DOE policies that have not yet been resolved.
The chancellor said that a concrete grading policy for the year would be instituted by the end of the month.
The DOE scrapped traditional letter grades last year for grades K-8 in light of the coronavirus crisis and have yet to say if that system will continue this year.
Carranza added that competitive admissions dates and application processes would also be revealed in the next two weeks.
DOE officials said during the hearing that 19,000 city teachers – or 25 percent of their total number – have been granted coronavirus exemptions that allows them to work from home this year.
That figure is up from 15,900 last month.
In addition, 231 city principals have been given the same accommodation – 14 percent of their total.
Overall, 34,000 DOE employees have been granted coronavirus medical exemptions this year and will not have to report to their buildings, according to the DOE.