New York City schools will be closed for in-school instruction starting Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
New York City has reached the 3% testing positivity 7-day average threshold. Unfortunately, this means public school buildings will be closed as of tomorrow, Thursday Nov. 19, out an abundance of caution.
We must fight back the second wave of COVID-19.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 18, 2020
The move to shutter the schools comes eight months after schools shut down in mid-March. Most schools around the city had partially re-opened, offering families the option of a “blended” education that included in-school instruction two days a week.
Over the summer, when the test positivity rate was below 1 percent, the mayor said that schools would be automatically shut if the 7-day positivity rate in covid tests hit three percent. On Wednesday, de Blasio said that threshold had been reached.
Approximately half of New York City’s students were enrolled in blended programs, with the other half already in all-remote schooling. With 1,800 schools and 1.1 million students, the New York City public school system is by far the largest. It was also one of the only major systems in the country to have returned to some in-school instruction, although many smaller cities and suburban areas have students who attend five days a week.
New York public schools had a positivity rate of 0.23% out of more than 140,000 students and staff tested as of Monday.
— Rebecca Jarvis (@RebeccaJarvis) November 18, 2020
City education officials said the shutdown would be only temporary, although they did not specify plans or dates to reopen. School principals have told families they do not expect to reopen prior to Thanksgiving.
Prior to de Blasio’s announcement, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the 7-day positivity rate in New York City was just 2.5 percent. He also said that if New York City’s schools were forced to close again, new procedures would have to be developed before the schools could be reopened since universal testing in the school system is impractical.
New York City school children had developed the superstitious notion that schools would be closed after Friday the 13th, based on the idea that the last Friday the 13th in March was followed by the initial shutdown. Reached for comment, one New York City kid said, “See dad. Told you. Friday the 13th.”