NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Schools have reopened in New York City for pre-K and special education students, marking another milestone in what’s already been a difficult year that’s taking a toll.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday outlined a plan to close what’s being called the “COVID achievement gap.”

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Parent Shaquaisa Mack looks forward to the days when her daughter is in school.

“The way that they is interacting with other students and the teacher inside of the building is different from at home, so it’s a roller coaster,” Mack told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.

Remote learning is much harder for the first grader, and Mack fears it’s affecting her progress.

“As a parent, it’s only so much that I could do,” she said.

Schools: The New Normal

While the mayor and schools chancellor Richard Carranza tout the accomplishments of a difficult school year, it’s clear students are being left behind.

“We must close the COVID achievement gap,” de Blasio said.

A new six-point framework, still short of an actual plan, is aimed at helping students catch up. It includes assessments to monitor students’ progress, providing a digital curriculum for every school, professional development for educators, and confronting trauma and mental health crisis for students.

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“It now gives teachers another set of tools to individualize the instruction for students,” Carranza said.

The plan won’t go into effect until September 2021, allowing time to figure out details, but it’s also time for students to fall even further behind.

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“You’re saying another nine months from now. So in 18 months that we’ve already lost learning because there was no plan when it happened,” said Nadia Lopez, a former New York City principal.

She says addressing the achievement gap could start now, but she says first the Department of Education has to better understand the problem.

“The same way that educators are expected to know each and every one of their students, we need to be clear about the needs of each and every one of our schools,” Lopez said.

For now, Mack relies on the educational apps on her phone, hoping it fills the gaps.

“We have to figure it out. It’s horrible,” she said.

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