The entire system of public schools in New York will be closed on Thursday, wrote in an email to the principals the school chancellor Richard A. Caranza in an alarming signal that a second wave of coronavirus has arrived. Schools have been open for personal training for just under eight weeks.
“As of this morning, November 18, the city has already reached this threshold of test positivity throughout the city, and as a result, DOE will temporarily close all public school buildings for personal learning, Thursday, November 19,” Mr Carranza wrote a little. after 2pm on Wednesday, about four hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio was due to give a press conference. Mr de Blasio confirmed the news in a tweet.
It was also a great disappointment for Mr Blasio, who was the first mayor of a large city in the country to reopen school buildings. The transition to distance learning will disrupt the education of many of the approximately 300,000 children attending individual classes and will create major problems for the care of children of parents who rely on their children to be at school for at least part of the week.
In New York, the number of cases is growing so fast that there seem to be more restrictions. Mr de Blasio said indoor eating should be reassessed; only Mr. Cuomo has the right to close indoor dining rooms.
New York is home to the largest school system in the country with 1,800 schools and 1.1 million students. The city’s family schools, most of which are low-income and black or Latin American, have suffered about eight months of confusion about whether and when schools will open or close.
Mr. de Blasio put the opening of the school at the center of his quest to revitalize the city and has repeatedly said that distance learning is inferior to classroom learning. But many teachers and parents said the city had done little to improve online learning.
The mayor said the closures would be temporary, but warned that schools would not automatically reopen when the seven-day positivity rate fell below 3% again.
He said it would be too destructive for children and teachers to switch between open and closed schools every few days, assuming he would wait until the virus spread to the community at a slower rate. He also said the city would soon publish details of how it plans to reopen schools.
The mayor and the teachers ‘union, the United Teachers’ Federation, have faced strong criticism as the 3 per cent closure threshold has approached. Mr de Blasio has repeatedly said that the union has not pressured him to set a threshold; instead, he called the indicator a “social contract” in a recent radio interview, arguing that it was a symbol of how seriously the city took school safety.
City officials said the number was agreed by the mayor’s public health team as part of a package of safety measures they say are the strictest in the world.
The mayor set the threshold at 3 percent in the summer, when average levels of positivity were around 1 percent or below. He was adamant that the number was a less strictly scientific measure and more a symbol designed to reassure parents, educators and the union.
In a recent interview, the union’s president, Michael Mulgrew, said he thought the 3 per cent threshold was stable. He cites warnings from experts that even if there is low transmission in schools, the infection can still spread from the wider school community, increasing the likelihood of students and staff carrying the virus to their homes and neighborhoods.
Mr Mulgrew said he was concerned that schools were closing so soon, and said the expression of disappointment at the suspension of some New Yorkers seemed hypocritical.
“We had a lot of criticism from people when we opened schools,” he said. “They did not want to be open. Much of this comes from the same people who are screaming now that they want to open up. “
He also called on New Yorkers to take the virus seriously to reduce their numbers again. “If we want to keep our schools open, it’s up to everyone else to take precautions,” Mr Mulgrew said.
While the city’s parents are expecting conflicting reports about the schools from the mayor and governor, Mr Cuomo said at a recent press conference that he had no plans to interfere in the city’s efforts to close schools.
But he said “the problem doesn’t come from schools” and encouraged the city to come up with new stop indicators after schools reopen. The governor said the state would force schools to close only if they were in a region where the seven-day pass rate reached 9 percent.
Mr Cuomo also said the spread of the virus was more prevalent in bars and restaurants and at indoor family gatherings, although he did not order the closure of restaurants or gyms.
Some other large school neighborhoods have recently approached resumption, either by outlining plans to welcome children back to classrooms, or by restarting personal education for children with disabilities and other vulnerable students.
But many other major neighborhoods, including Los Angeles and Chicago, are not yet open, although Chicago plans to return younger children to classrooms in January. Philadelphia recently postponed the reopening of schools, and Detroit suspended personal training due to high levels of test positivity.
At a bad time, New York said last month that families only had until Sunday to decide whether they wanted their children to return to school at all, at least until next September. Parents had to make that decision, knowing that schools could close at any moment.
Students who rejoined class had to restart classes between November 30 and December 7. Now they will have to wait weeks or even months to return to school buildings.
Many of the charter schools in the city are not yet open for any lessons.
The city faces criticism from educators and parents for the relative lack of focus on improving distance learning compared to preparing school buildings for students, although approximately 70% of children attend full-time distance classes.
Even students enrolled in the city’s hybrid school system spent at least half of their week in virtual classes, and the rest of their training was personal.
Some students, including some children in homeless shelters, have not yet received iPads or laptops from the city and lack sufficient internet access.
Many teachers report that children sometimes struggle to enter classes due to technological problems. Teachers also said they received little training on how to provide better instruction online.