New York will close schools in the face of Covid-19 cases

The Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio.
Reuters

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared Wednesday that the city, which has the largest educational district in the United States, will close its schools starting Thursday as a “precaution” due to the increase in covid-19 cases.

De Blasio wrote on his Twitter account that the Big Apple has reached 3% positivity in a seven-day proration, the “limit” set for reversing the hybrid opening of schools, so the centers “will be closed tomorrow.”

“We must fight the second wave of covid-19”added the mayor in a succinct message after a five-hour wait for his daily press conference, which he has not yet attended.

The director of the New York public education system, Richard Carranza, reported in his account that classes “will continue remotely until further notice” and that students who attended the centers for part of the week will have to make a “transition.”

“The mayor and I have been clear, from the beginning, that we needed to get the students to classrooms as soon as it was safe. And we carry the same urgency today when announcing this temporary closure: we will bring the students to the buildings as soon as we can, safely, “Carranza said.

The local Education Minister told families that the school principals will be in contact with them soon and that the city will offer “support with devices and advice on remote teaching”, plus free meals for all students.

Last Friday, De Blasio already warned that this week schools could be closed if the positivity index continued to increase and He asked parents to prepare for this eventuality.

The New York City public education system is home to more than one million students, of which approximately one third were enrolled in the hybrid program, combining face-to-face attendance to class several days a week with virtual classes.

The announcement of the closure of the schools came while the state governor, Andrew Cuomo, ended a press conference in which he recalled that if the city reached that positivity limit of 3% would fall into the category of “orange zone”, with greater restrictions on mobility in general.

Across the state, schools in the “orange zone” can reopen if they are closed at least four days, thoroughly disinfected, and community tested as they return to centers, but for New York City, for its size, a different “formula would be needed“Cuomo said.

Asked about this step backward taken by the mayor, Cuomo said that he expected the mayor’s office would close schools if that percentage was reached, so did not consider the reopening strategy to be failing.

However, the city and the state use different metrics and according to the latter Administration, the city’s prorated rate in the last 7 days is below 3%, which has generated some confusion.

“Around the world (the coronavirus) is increasing, every state in the nation. Success depends on how we do it relative to the rest. We are the fourth in the US (…) after having had the highest infection rate in the US New Yorkers are doing a good job, “he said.

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