New York City public schools will remain open for in-person learning on Monday — but a system-wide shutdown could still come next week, officials said Saturday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio held off on a decision to close the nation’s largest school system after reporting the city’s COVID-19 infection rate on a seven-day rolling average dipped from 2.83 on Friday to 2.47 percent.
The mayor has said that if the coronavirus infection rate surpasses 3 percent for that span, city school buildings will close.
“Schools remain open. We expect today’s daily test positivity to increase as more tests are entered into the system, but don’t expect that to push today’s 7-day average to 3 percent,” the mayor’s press secretary, Bill Neidhardt said.
The seven-day infection rate has steadily risen in recent days. It was 2.6 percent on Thursday and 2.83 percent on Friday, when de Blasio warned parents to plan for a possible shutdown as early as Monday.
A group of parents planned a 2 p.m. rally in Foley Square on Saturday to demand the city keep schools open.
Despite the opposition, de Blasio has so far refused to back down from the “high bar” the city had set, even though he continues to insist the schools are “extraordinarily safe.”
Testing of staff and students conducted in schools on a random, voluntary basis has produced infection rates around just 0.15 percent.
But coronavirus cases among students and staff have resulted in classrooms and schools closing citywide. On Friday alone, 460 DOE classrooms were closed; 19 buildings were shut for 24 hours and 55 buildings were shut for 14 days, according to data posted by the DOE. Many buildings house multiple schools.
Since Sept. 8, 1,613 infections have emerged from testing sites and health-care facilities — 777 students and 823 staff, including a total 162 on Thursday alone, according to state data.
Any shutdown would exempt Pre-K and 3-K programs run by community-based organizations — not in DOE buildings — will remain open “even if we go beyond the three percent,” de Blasio told WNYC on Friday.
In addition, the city’s Learning Bridges child-care program will remain open, with a priority for children of essential workers, he said.
The community groups do not employ members of the United Federation of Teachers, which is holding the mayor to a 3 percent closure rate.
In a note to members Friday, UFT President Mike Mulgrew said city schools are “among the safest public places in New York City.”
“But schools are not an island,” he added. “Epidemiologists warn this second wave is bound to infiltrate our schools. As hundreds of thousands of students, parents and staff crisscross the city on public transportation, schools would become the connection points to spread the virus through all the city’s neighborhoods.”
The decision to close schools/keep schools open came as parents faced a deadline Sunday to decide whether to switch students in 100 percent remote classes to blended learning, a mix of in-person and online.
The mayor first said parents would have several opportunities to make the switch, but abruptly changed it to one last chance. Amid parent outrage, Chancellor Richard Carranza has hinted that families may be given another opportunity in several months.
Originally published at https://nypost.com/2020/11/14/de-blasio-stalls-decision-to-close-schools-after-covid-rate-drops/ on .