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NYC schools temporarily will close for rising COVID-19 rates

( Daily News )




New York City public schools will shut down temporarily starting Thursday because of surging coronavirus cases, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza told principals in an email Wednesday afternoon.


Carranza said the closure would be “temporary” but did not signal when schools would reopen.


The percentage of new COVID-19 cases has hovered near the 3% weekly average threshold the city uses to close schools for more than a week now, forcing parents to wait with bated breath for days for any indication that would force them into having to adjust their childcare arrangements to the new reality.


Gov. Cuomo and others have suggested that de Blasio could change the threshold used to close schools, but such a shift would almost inevitably lead to push back from the United Federation of Teachers, the union that represents most educators in the city.


Sources said de Blasio’s team was frantically hashing out a decision on school closures Wednesday morning as the mayor delayed his scheduled press conference for hours.


De Blasio was scheduled to hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday, but at 2:20 p.m. it still had not begun.


De Blasio has stuck to his guns on the rule that all city schools will close if citywide test positivity rate reaches 3% over a seven-day average in order to “keep faith” with educators and families. But he’s suggested in recent days that the city could adopt a new standard moving forward.


Hizzoner said he would work with the Education Department and educator unions “to figure out what’s the quickest way back and the best standards for that quick turnaround.”


A closure would affect roughly 300,000 students who have been attending some in-person school under the hybrid reopening plan, including many with disabilities who depend on in-person supports and therapy.


The majority of the city’s students are fully remote, though parents had the option earlier this month to opt back into in-person learning.


Pre-K and 3-K programs contracted by the city but run by community-based organizations will remain open, as will the city’s Learning Bridges free childcare program, staffed by community-based organizations. Those programs have offered childcare for about 30,000 students at last count, and will prioritize the kids of essential workers during the school shutdown, according to officials.

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