New York City will reopen primary schools, which will have face-to-face classes for students with special needs of all ages from December 7, despite the recent increase in cases of the new coronavirus, announced on Sunday (29) Mayor Bill de Blasio, under pressure from parents.
The mayor announced the abandonment of the order that determined the closure of all schools if the rate of positive tests exceeded 3% for seven days in a row, at a time when cases increase in New York – the largest school district in the country – when the current rate is 3.1%.
“Now we have a lot of evidence of how safe schools can be,” said De Blasio during a news conference, and said that all students who return to school will be subjected to weekly covid-19 tests in place of monthly ones.
“Whenever possible, we will move on to personal learning five days a week” for these students, he added on his Twitter account.
So far, face-to-face classes have only been available two to three times a week.
“We want our children as long as possible in the classroom. Our families do too. We will work to make this happen,” said the Democratic mayor.
Classes for students who are not elementary students or have special needs, will remain 100% remote.
New York suspended all face-to-face classes on November 19, amid a second wave of covid-19, because the city reached the 3% positive test mark agreed with the teachers’ union to decree the closure.
The decision infuriated thousands of parents, who protested in front of the City Hall because bars and restaurants remain open, while schools are closed. They also highlighted the example of Europe, where schools remained open despite the pandemic.
Parents argue that the rate of positive exams in schools is vastly lower than in the rest of the city and that closing hurts disadvantaged children – like the 60,000 who do not have a computer – and working mothers.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, warned on Sunday about a sharp increase in the contagion curve after the Thanksgiving holiday, and recommended: “close the bars and keep schools open”.
New York schools closed for the first time on March 16, when the city became the national epicenter of the pandemic that left more than 24,200 dead by the end of the school year in June.
After the summer in the northern hemisphere in September, New York was the only major American city to reopen private schools partially for face-to-face classes, albeit a month late to install security measures negotiated with the teachers’ union.
However, of the 1.1 million students, only 300 thousand accepted to attend face-to-face classes and the rest opted for a 100% remote model.