Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some major tea and it involves the largest public school system closing due to the coronavirus.
New York City’s public school system will shut down on Thursday according to the schools chancellor, Richard A. Carranza who wrote in an email to principals, in a worrisome signal that a second wave of the coronavirus has arrived. Schools have been open for in person instruction for just under eight weeks.
“As of this morning, November 18, the City has now reached this threshold of test positivity citywide and, as a result, the DOE will temporarily close down all public school buildings for in person learning, Thursday, November 19,” Mr. Carranza wrote little after 2 p.m. on Wednesday, about four hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio was scheduled to give a news conference.
The shutdown was prompted by the city reaching a 3 percent test positivity rate over a seven day rolling average. This is a significant setback for New York’s recovery since the spring, when the city was a global epicenter of the outbreak.
Virus transmission in city schools had remained very low since classrooms reopened at the end of September, and the spike in cases does not appear to be caused by the reopening of school buildings.
Even as the city chose to end in person learning, indoor dining and gyms will remain open at a reduced capacity and Nonessential workers can continue to use public transportation to commute to offices.
This is a major disappointment for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was the first big city mayor in the country to reopen school buildings. Moving to all remote instruction will disrupt the education of many of the roughly 300,000 children who have been attending in person classes and will absolutely create major child care problems for parents who count on their children being at school for at least part of the week.
New York is home to the nation’s largest school system, with 1,800 schools and 1.1 million students. The city’s public school families, majority of whom are low income and Black and Latino, have endured eight months of wide spread confusion about whether and when schools would be open or closed.
Case numbers are rising so quickly in New York that more restrictions appear likely. Mayor de Blasio has said that indoor dining should be reassessed; only Mr. Cuomo has the authority to close indoor dining rooms.
During a news conference on Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he would shut down indoor dining in the city and impose other restrictions once the state’s data showed that the city had reached a 3 percent test positivity rate over a seven day rolling average.
On Wednesday, the state’s health data showed that New York City had a seven day rolling average of 2.5 percent. Over the course of the pandemic, the city’s health department’s numbers have often differed.
Parts of the city where cases have risen in recent weeks have been subject to more restrictions, but officials have declined to impose restrictions across all five boroughs.
Meeting the 3 percent threshold would qualify the city to be considered an “orange” zone, the second level of restrictions under the state’s color coded tier system, which applies different limits in regions of the state where the virus is surging more severely than others.
Governor Cuomo also said on Wednesday that parts of the Bronx would be placed into a “yellow zone” and that the state would expand the existing yellow zone in Queens. In those zones, open schools must conduct weekly testing of students and staff, gatherings are limited to 25 people and houses of worship are limited to half their capacity.
The state’s orange zones, all schools, private and public, are required to close and shift to remote learning. Under New York state’s plan, schools must remain closed for at least four days and are allowed to reopen if they meet certain testing criteria.
In those Orange zones, some of the nonessential businesses deemed high risk, such as gyms and personal care services, are also required to close. Indoor dining will end, and restaurants with outdoor dining can serve no more than four people at a table. Houses of worship are limited to 25 people or 33 percent capacity, and all mass gatherings are limited to 10 people. Gatherings at private residences are also limited to 10 people statewide.