Public schools in New York City won’t reopen for in-person learning unless the city’s daily COVID-19 positive-test rate is kept below three percent, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.
“We are going to hold New York City to a very high standard, our schools to a very high standard,” de Blasio said during a Friday morning press conference. “We will not reopen our schools unless the city infection rate is below three percent.” This is much tougher than what has been suggested by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said last month that schools should be able to reopen if the daily infection rate was kept below five percent over a fourteen day average.
“This is a way of proving that we will do things the right way, setting a very tough bar but also one I am convinced we can achieve,” de Blasio said, noting that the city’s COVID-19 infection rate has been less than 3 percent since June 10. It is currently at 1 percent.
The NYC’s education department on Thursday night released the long-awaited plan to reopen the nation’s largest public school system in the fall, which includes new protocols for handling any possible COVID-19 cases in schools.
Under the plan, most of the city’s one million students will spend two or three days at school and learn remotely from home for the remainder of the week. Parents can request full-time online learning if they believe that’s best for their children.
Face coverings and social distancing are mandatory under the plan, and school buildings will be cleaned throughout the day and disinfected at night. If one student test positive for COVID-19, the entire classroom will close and anyone who had close contact with the student will self-quarantine for fourteen days and take online classes during the period.
If two or more students in the same school test positive but do not share the same classroom, the entire school will have to undergo a fourteen-day quarantine.
School Chancellor Richard Carranza, who joined de Blasio at the Friday press conference, reminded the parents and students that daily routines at school will be very different from the pre-pandemic days.
“In-person school this fall will not be the same as it was last fall,” Carranza said. “You just cannot have that kind of an environment given all of the safety requirements, the social distancing requirements, all of the things that we have to do to be preventative.”