Winter Guide

Information, tips, and activities for families this winter

As the pandemic continues to shift, we know one thing: Winter will feel different. This guide can help your family adapt to the school year and keep learning and growing while you stay healthy. Explore below for free indoor and outdoor activities, updated information on the coronavirus, and more.

Getting Support

COVID-19 has impacted New Yorkers in many different ways. If you need information or support, you can visit our Coronavirus Updates page to learn about:

  • School updates
  • Free food options
  • Applying for cash and benefits
  • Mental health support
  • And more


Find support

Resources for families with young children

Find information and support for managing this shift in your family’s daily life, including tips for managing blended learning, how to keep daily routines, and making space for caring for you and your child’s mental health. Visit our page created with the NYC Department of Education.


Find resources for young kids

Winter Fun Activities

Check out the free things you can do indoors and outdoors this winter. Check back for new activities! For activities and information for teens and young adults, visit the Winter Fun guide on Generation NYC.

Featured this week


Winter Fun – Curated Winter Activities from NYC Go – the Official Guide to NYC

There are plenty of ways to explore the five boroughs anytime, from anywhere. NYC Go has rounded up the best family friendly online experiences—including recorded performances, digitized exhibitions, social media gatherings and virtual tours—from museums, galleries, theaters and other venues all over the City. Visit NYC Go to reconnect with your favorite NYC attractions—and discover some new ones in the process.


Explore activities

Spring Preview

Service in Schools Leadership Program for High School Students

The SIS Virtual Leadership Institute is a youth program for NYC public high school students in grades 10-12 that engages them in meaningful service-learning and leadership. Program participants engage in a series of leadership skill-building activities, preparing them to draft a lesson plan and lead a live virtual lesson for students in grades 3-5 for their capstone community project. Leadership Institute participants work together to address community issues related to animal welfare, the environment, housing, and food access by identifying root causes and creating a service-learning lesson for elementary school students to be presented in May 2021.

  • Cost: Free
  • Who: Students in grades 10 through 12 for the 2020-21 school year in NYC public schools.
  • When: Sessions will be held during a four-day virtual institute between March 29 and April 1 and three after-school sessions on April 15, April 29, and May 20. The virtual institute sessions run from 10:00am-3:00pm each day and the after-school sessions 
  • Locations: Zoom virtual sessions
  • Website: SIS Leadership Institute

How to apply

Apply online – Application deadline: Wednesday, February 24 at 11:59pm

Students in grades 10 through 12 who apply for SIS Virtual Leadership Institute will be selected based on their responses to the application questions and stated commitment to program. If a student is selected as a finalist for the Leadership Institute, the Service in Schools team will reach out to the teacher named by the student in the application for a recommendation. 

Frequently Asked Questions about the School Year

As the COVID-19 situation continues to shift, your family may have questions. From school health measures to playdates and free food, find out the answers to your school year questions below.

  • What are schools doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

    • For schools to reopen, the number of positive COVID-19 tests in New York City must be less than 3%. If 3% or more tests are positive, schools will not reopen.
    • If schools have already opened, and an average of 3% or more tests in NYC are positive in a 7-day period, schools will close.
    • Schools are increasing health and safety measures. Some measures include regular deep cleanings, better air flow, and changing around spaces to ensure physical distancing. All staff and students must wear face coverings, if it's developmentally and medically appropriate for them.
    • If a student or teacher is feeling sick, they must stay home. If their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, they are asked to get tested.
    • For more information on health and safety measures, visit NYCDOE’s Return to School 2020 Health and Safety page.
  • What is “blended learning”? Does your child have to go to school in person?

    • Blended learning is when a child has some days in school and some days where the learning happens remotely. It is the default option for Fall 2020. The purpose is to limit the number of students in a school at one time and allow physical distancing.
    • To see what blended learning looks like for your child’s school, visit the NYC Schools website.
    • You can choose fully remote learning at any time, for any reason. To choose remote learning for your child, fill out the Learning Preference survey.
  • When do yo have to submit school applications?

  • Where can your family get free food this fall?

  • Do you have to wear a mask?

    • New Yorkers over two years old should continue to wear a mask or face covering when out in public where they can’t stay 6 feet away from others. This includes walking on a busy street, going to the grocery store, and going to the doctor, among other places.
    • To learn more about face coverings, visit the COVID-19 Citywide Information Portal.
  • Can kids have playdates?

    • As NYC reopens, you can decide whether or not you're comfortable spending time with other families. If you do gather with others, make sure you do it safely. Keep gatherings under ten people, consider meeting outside, and limit contact. Learn more about how to gather safely.
  • Are libraries open?