NYC Schools in ‘Hotspot’ Areas to Close Tuesday: Cuomo

October 5, 2020 Updated: October 5, 2020

About 100 public and 200 private schools in New York City’s “hotspot” neighborhoods, where high COVID-19 test positivity rates have been reported, will close starting Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

The measures come after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed to shut down nine zip codes—all in Brooklyn and Queens—closing not only schools but also businesses deemed non-essential, including restaurants and gyms. De Blasio said over the weekend that the temporary shutdown would be lifted after two weeks if those zip codes could keep positivity rates under 3 percent for seven consecutive days. If not, the shutdown would last for at least four weeks.

De Blasio wanted to wait until Wednesday to close buildings to give teachers and students more time to prepare, but Cuomo said they should close a day sooner than the mayor has planned.

“New York City has clusters,” said Cuomo during a Monday afternoon press conference. “I would not send my child to a school in a hotspot cluster.”

teacher collects supplies
A teacher collects supplies needed to continue remote teaching through the end of the school year at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York City, N.Y., on May 14, 2020. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

“Picture that map as a map of dry grass and picture those hot spots as embers within the field of dried grass,” the Democratic governor said, pointing to a map of the state with “hotspot” areas marked. “The only course is to run to those embers and stamp them out immediately and dramatically. That’s why I don’t sleep at night, so you have to attack the clusters.”

Cuomo also disagreed with de Blasio’s plan to shut down businesses, saying that businesses are less likely to spread the CCP virus than schools and places of worships, and should be allowed to operate as the state tries to come up with a system more efficient than zip codes for outlining outbreaks.

“Better safe than sorry. I would not send my child to a school in a cluster that has not been tested,” Cuomo said. “I am not going to recommend or allow any New York City family to send a child to a school that I would not send my child. We are going to close the schools in those areas tomorrow, and that’s that.”

Students in schools slated to be closed will shift to remote learning on Tuesday, less than a week after most of the city’s 1,600 schools officially reopened for hybrid learning, a model that allows students to attend socially distanced classes at least once a week and spend the rest of the week learning remotely for home.

The in-person learning in New York City has already been delayed twice, as the City Hall, teachers, and principals struggled to staff schools, navigate complicated staggered schedules and health guidelines in order to bring students back to classrooms.