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New York closes schools again as Covid-19 cases rise in the second wave

The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, declared last Wednesday that the city, which has the largest educational district in the United States, would close its schools starting Thursday as a “precaution” due to the increase in cases of covid-19.

De Blasio wrote on his Twitter account that New York has reached 3% positivity in a seven-day proration, the “limit” established to reverse the opening of schools, so the centers “will be closed tomorrow

“We must fight the second wave of covid-19,” added the mayor in a succinct message after a five-hour wait for his daily press conference.

The director of the New York public education system, Richard Carranza, reported in his account that classes “will continue remotely until further notice” and that students who attended school some days of the week will have to make a “transition”

“The mayor and I have been clear from the beginning that we needed to get students to classrooms as soon as it was safe. And we carry the same urgency today by announcing this temporary closure: we will bring students to the buildings as soon as we can, safely, “said Carranza.

The local education minister told families that school principals will be in contact with them soon and that the city will offer “device support and advice on remote teaching,” as well as free meals for all students. Last Friday, De Blasio already warned that this week schools could be closed if the positivity index continued to increase and asked parents to prepare to face this eventuality.

The New York City public education system welcomes more than one million students, of which approximately one third were enrolled in the hybrid program, combining face-to-face attendance several days a week with virtual classes.

The announcement of the closure of schools came as the state governor, Andrew Cuomo, ended a press conference in which he recalled that if the city reached that 3% positivity limit, it would fall into the category of “orange zone”, with greater restrictions on mobility in general.

Across the state, “Orange Zone” schools can reopen if they are closed for at least four days, thoroughly disinfected, and community tested as they return to centers, but for New York City, for its size, it would take a “different formula,” Cuomo said.

Asked about this step backwards taken by the mayor, Cuomo said that he expected that the mayor’s office would close the schools if that percentage was reached, so he did not consider that the reopening strategy is failing.

However, the city and the state use different metrics and according to the latter Administration, the city’s prorated rate in the last 7 days is below 3%, which has generated some confusion.

“All over the world (the coronavirus) is increasing, every state in the nation. Success depends on how we do it relative to the rest. We are the fourth in the US (…) after having had the largest infection rate in the US New Yorkers are doing a good job,” he noted.

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