A plan to take New York City classrooms to the streets hit a road block.
City officials turned down 63% of public school requests to close a street and move instruction outdoors.
A total of 233 public schools applied to use an adjacent street for al fresco instruction, but only 86 — or 37% — got a green light from the Department of Transportation, statistics from the agency show. The agency approved a greater percentage of private school requests — 46% of the 124 submitted.
The DOT approved 10 public schools in the Bronx; 39 Brooklyn; 22 in Manhattan; 13 in Queens; and two on Staten Island.
Mayor de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced in August that schools could seek to use outdoor space, including streets and parks, as a way of making instruction safer during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We want to give schools the option to do as much outdoors as they can,’’ de Blasio said at a press conference.
While some schools embraced the concept, there was pushback from the city’s principals’ union. One group of Bronx principals said gun violence and syringe-filled parks in their district made outdoor learning unworkable.
The DOT said in reviewing applications it looked at potential safety issues, including truck or bus routes, or those with a firehouse or hospital.
Schools also need to have a staffer present at the outdoor barricades, which block off the streets to traffic during school hours, to ensure safety and avoid any disruptions.
Councilman Brad Lander, who represents parts of Brooklyn and has been a proponent of the outdoor learning initiatives, said the schools that had the OK to use street space were making good use of it.
“I’m hopeful that we can keep working with DOT to expand opportunities for students to use streets as spaces for play and learning across all neighborhoods, especially those that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and have the least open space,” he said.
The Department of Education said it was working with less than 10 schools to find outdoor space after their original proposals presented safety concerns.
“Schools were able to apply for multiple outdoor spaces, so if one space wasn’t feasible due to safety reasons, we were able to offer an alternative,” said Katie O’Hanlon, a DOE spokeswoman.
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