About 300,000 students were attending in-person classes in New York City

By Rachel DeSantis
November 18, 2020 03:14 PM
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Credit: Mario Tama/Getty

Public schools in New York City, the country’s largest school system, will once again be learning entirely from home as positivity rates in the city continue to climb.

The New York City Department of Education announced Wednesday that schools will be closed for in-person learning until further notice, less than two months after they were reopened for students who wanted to take part in hybrid lessons.

“New York City has reached the 3% testing positivity 7-day average threshold,” Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote on Twitter. “Unfortunately, this means public school buildings will be closed as of tomorrow, Thursday Nov. 19, out of an abundance of caution.”

“We must fight back the second wave of COVID-19,” he added.

The 3% threshold was established as a definitive marker for whether schools would remain open, and was determined over the summer, when the average positivity rates were around 1% or below, The New York Times reported.

Most of the city’s students are already fully remote, though parents had the option to sign their children up for a hybrid mix of in-person and remote learning. About 300,000 students have been attending class in-person, and many are students with disabilities who depend on in-person support and therapy, the New York Daily News reported.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that 3.43% of the more than 154,000 COVID tests reported on Tuesday came back positive.

Since classrooms reopened at the end of September, however, virus transmission in city schools has remained very low, and the spike does not seem to be caused by their reopening, the Times reported.

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Though de Blasio warned parents last week that they should prepare for fully remote learning by Monday of this week, some parents say the stress of the back-and-forth is still taking its toll.

“Every single day I wake up and look on Twitter to see what the positivity rate will be to see if he’s going to school the next day, and that’s insane,” Lauren Tambini, mom to a kindergartner who goes to in-person class one week and remote the next, told the Wall Street Journal. “This constant stress of wondering if he’s going to be in school the next day, it changes my work.”

While schools are now closed, indoor dining and gyms will remain open at reduced capacity, and nonessential workers will still be able to commute to offices via public transportation, according to the Times.

The newspaper noted that the policies are opposite those in many countries in Western Europe, where elementary schools remain open and bars, restaurants and theaters are closed.

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