Mayor De Blasio: 'If [Principals] Want To Use It, It's Their Choice How And When'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With just days to go until the start of school, we’re getting a glimpse at what outdoor learning might look like in New York City.

Hundreds of schools have applied to add outside instruction.

A teacher uses a decorated noodle to help students maintain proper social distancing. (Credit: CBS2)

From a decorated social distancing “noodle” to a pre-K teacher reviewing shapes while students in masks sit under a tent — these are just a few features of PS 15’s potential outside instruction.

“I think it’s great. I think outdoor learning is ideal for this age to begin with,” parent Kyley Smith said.

The Red Hook, Brooklyn, elementary school set up a demo for pre-K parents and kids on Sullivan Street as they wait on the city to approve their outdoor learning plan.

It included tables with arts and crafts at each end, tents and easels.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Schools: The New Normal

School administrators were not allowed to speak on camera but say they applied for outdoor learning for all grades on the street and in the park next door.

“It offers great space so that you’re able to, you know, just be safe and socially distanced from one another and be able to learn in such a natural and organic way,” pre-K teacher Nikki Laugier told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.

RELATED STORY: Mayor, Schools Chancellor Defend Outdoor Learning As Some Educators Say Decision Came Too Late

Outdoor learning does present its own challenges, however. The noise from nearby construction is just one of them.

There are also concerns about safety outdoors, especially in higher crime neighborhoods, not to mention the weather.

“Unquestionably, if a principal does not feel good about safety for any reason, including consulting with the school safety team, they just don’t have to go forward,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “If they want to use it, it’s their choice how and when.”

The mayor spoke after touring PS 59 in Bed-Stuy. Their outdoor plan includes physical education and dance classes to start in the playground behind the school.


The schools chancellor says they’ve approved more than 300 plans so far and will continue to do so on a rolling basis.

The mayor says there will be days students cannot be outdoors because of the weather.

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